Monday, November 23, 2015

Prioritizing climate change reporting ahead of COP21

By Bob Aston
Climate change is posing a great challenge to many communities in Kenya. Rise in temperature, decreasing rainfall trends, reduced mountain glaciers, frequent flooding, and prolonged droughts are clear signals of the urgency of increasing the coverage of climate change by the media.
The need for a more a informed public on climate change is a clear indication that it should be at the top of the media or public priority list.
The media can play a huge role in educating the public as well as helping in preventing the negative impacts of climate change by playing an active role in disseminating information about mitigation, preparedness, relief, and recovery.
Enhancing climate change reporting
In the run up to COP21, improving and prioritising reporting on climate change is of paramount importance. In Kenya, various climate change stakeholders are taking an initiative in ensuring the country has informed journalists reporting on El-Nino as a climate change phenomenon and its related disasters.
The Low Emission and Climate Resilient Development (LECRD) Project being implemented by the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Regional Development Authorities (MENRRDA),  held a two days training on November 14-15, 2015 at Lake Naivasha Country Club in Nakuru County for 40 Journalists.
Alex Kubasu from Citizen TV doing a presentation during the training.Photo:Philip Dinga


The MENRRDA and the Media Council of Kenya jointly organized the training. Implementation of LECRD Project is by the MENRRDA with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The journalists, drawn from disaster prone areas and hot spots as well as environmental journalists from across national media houses were trained on different strategies for reporting on El-Nino, related preparedness and risk reduction. They gained skills on creating awareness on how El-Nino related disasters might affect communities and coverage of such stories.
The training not only reinforced capacity building of the climate knowledge management system in Kenya but also highlighted the important role played by journalists in reporting on El-nino as a climate change phenomenon.
LECRD Project
The training enabled journalists to learn more about the LECRD Project. The project aims to support Kenya’s efforts to pursue long-term, transformative development as well as accelerate sustainable climate resilient economic growth, while slowing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions.
The outcomes of the LECRD Project include enhanced national climate change coordination process, enhanced access to clean and efficient energy systems and creation of a sustainable greenhouse gas (GHG) emission system.
Others include enhanced national and County Government decision making on climate change intervention, contributing towards minimizing the impacts of extreme climate change and capacity building on climate knowledge management.
Understanding Climate Change
Most of the journalists concurred that before the training, distinction between individual weather events and climate change had always been a hard task. Most journalists have at times erred on how they report on climate change, since some of the information disseminated through the media is not factual.
Most journalists have been oblivious to the fact that extreme weather events do not confirm or weaken their linkage to climate change and that it is wrong to attribute individual weather events directly to climate change.
Some of the journalists during group discussions. Photo:Philip Dinga
Some have been thinking of climate change as just an environmental issue. At the end of the workshop, the journalists indicated that they better understood the causes of climate change, mitigation measures, adaptation strategies, as well as projected impacts. They can now report on climate change with renewed confidence.
Looking beyond the training
Many of the journalists particularly those drawn from the broadcast media are now planning to influence their studio managers to start programmes tailored towards climate change issues. This will not only help to raise awareness of climate change but also encourage communities to implement coping strategies.
Ms. Purity Akoth, a freelance journalist based in Kisumu County noted that the training expanded her horizons on how to enrich her content, key elements of climate change to look at and especially her role as a journalist on how to mitigate, prepare, and offer relief and enriched information to her audience.
“I am now more informed on how I can report as a journalist. I will now be able to report in more depth on the effects of climate change. I am now able to build the awareness of the general public on the importance of incorporating climate change in their daily decisions,” said Ms. Akoth.
On her part, Ms. Maureen Ndamwe from Maata Radio in Lodwar, Turkana County noted that the training would enable her to do follow-ups with experts in climate change instead of always relying on politicians to provide her with information on the phenomenon.
 “We will now do more talk shows and even come up with programs specifically on climate change. Climate change is real and we have to give communities solutions on mitigation,” said Ms. Ndamwe.
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