Journalism Critical in Climate Change Awareness
Climate Change, a phenomenon that affects the entire world, particularly African countries, Zimbabwe included, is not well known or understood, debated or discussed.
In Zimbabwe, the general population does not have an understanding of what it is, how it affects them and what forms of behavioral change they can take.
A media which is well informed on Climate Change would inform communities on how to adapt and mitigate in the face of a changing Climate.
The information gap is pretty much what the world faced more than 20 years ago when HIV spread and eventually became a global pandemic.
Today, as was the case when the HIV/AIDS tsunami hit, a large number of people attribute Climate Change to witchcraft and angry or avenging gods or spirits.
Traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television have done very little to encourage awareness raising on Climate Change issues.
All that we get in the traditional media is bombardment with statistics and alarming stories of floods, heat waves and looming starvation.
We do not get well researched articles or broadcasts on Climate Change to give media consumers well rounded and complete stories.
However, the little that is being done to raise awareness and generate debate could be complemented by using non formal media such as road shows, theatre and posters. The CC story is a health, gender, political and security story.
Another area which has potential to raise awareness on Climate Change is the use of new media and ICTs in order to involve the journalists, academics, professionals, the youth, women and ordinary people.
Journalists, artistes, educators, influential people, and politicians, including traditional leaders can be harnessed in order to be drivers of information on CC hence the need to involve them.
Journalists’ leaders of Unions and Associations on the African continent met in Durban during the COP Summit, in 2010 and had a side event in which they produced the Durban Declaration. They met again in 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya where they produced the Nairobi Resolutions on how the media could contribute towards tackling CC.
The Southern Africa Food and Climate Justice Campaign is a coalition of movements in Southern Africa which seeks to support and promote small scale food producers in the face of Climate Change.
It involves small scale food producers, women farmers, trade unions, the media, Non Governmental Organisations and other social movements.
The involvement of different sectors and players, together with media as we know it, can contribute in removing the knowledge and information gap.
As a way of removing the knowledge gap the ACCCKF suggest the following.
1. Support the strengthening of dedicated websites on Climate Change into modern information platforms with capacity to carry stories from different parts of Zimbabwe and the world. They should be able to carry audio and video feeds from different parts of Southern Africa and other parts of Africa.
2. Generate literature like calendars, posters, pamphlets on Climate Change
3. Visit areas clearly affected by CC with journalists so that they have empirical evidence on effects of CC
4. Strengthen capacity of Forum for Climate Change Journalists
5. Engage CC journalists on training workshops so that they develop stories for use by their media organizations and the websites
6. Support radio and TV talk shows, newspaper and website columns on CC
7. Sensitization meetings with editors, news editors and sub editors so that they appreciate CC
8. Hold training workshops with artistes so that they understand CC with a view to generating music and plays on Climate Change and the Campaign
9. Hold training workshops with Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, traditional leaders on Climate and Agriculture,
10. Industry and Local Government to sensitize them on CC
11. Engage the National Climate Office and other stakeholders to provide guidance on Climate Policies and response mechanisms
12. Hold rural meetings with farmers and communities on way forward, opportunities and challenges on CC
13. Document activities on Climate Change
14. Prepare engagements for COP events with a view to sending journalists and community representatives to provide coverage for their media organizations
15. Seek information for documentation on indigenous knowledge systems on CC
16. Begin work on having a Zimbabwe Journalists’ guide or manual on reporting CC
The above media perspective; Climate Change and the Knowledge and Information Gap, was made by journalist Foster Dongozi on 8 July 2015 in Harare at a Konrad Adeneur Stiftung and COMALISO Consultative Forum on Impact of Climate Change in Zimbabwe.