Today is Earth Day. And this year’s theme is Environmental and Climate Change Literacy. I found it useful to share my views on How Can Climate Change be Communicated In a Way that Engage and Activate People, especially in Tanzania.
But before I continue, I would like to take a short break for reviewing briefly What’s Earth Day and What It Stands for. Earthday is annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which day events worldwide are held to demostrate support for environmental protection.
It was firstly conceived and celebrated in 22nd April 1970 by Wiscousin Senator Gaylord Nelson. The Senator was worried about the rate of industrization and the careless attitude of everyone toward environment. Since its conception todate, Earthday is cordinated globally by Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year worldwide. This year, the Earth Day focuses on raising awareness about environment particularly climate change through sharing knowledge. Experiences and aspirations. Of course, this is the basis of my article today.
HOW CAN CLIMATE CHANGE BE COMMUNICATED CLEARLY IN A WAY THAT ENGAGE AND ACTIVATE PEOPLE?
This question might sound so obvious, but in deed climate change communication is very important. All reports might mean nothing if climate change is not communicated clearly in such a way that even my rural mums in village understand it. I read many climate-related findings by different experts. Thanks to Tanzania Climate Change Information Repository (TaCCIRe) , a repository that provides access to various research information on climate change relevant to Tanzania by giants from well appreciated universities such as University of Dar es Salaam, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Ardhi University, Norwegian University of Life Sciences as well as Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA).
Despite all these facilities like TaCCIRe, yet in many areas the phrase “Mabadiliko Ya Tabia Nchi” is not clear. There is a need for simplifying the language we use to communicate climate change. In my first blog post I wrote about Greenhouse analogy, that the term does not appear common and laymen find it hard to connect dots from greenhouse in agriculture to atmosphere.
I appreciate works of climate experts, but in between experts and vulnerable communities there should be some people who translate technical findings to more clear language. Those middle men include me and anyone out there. For example, I’m working in various ‘Tree Planting’ projects, in each village before we start planting trees I educate villagers ‘what it means planting trees for curbing climate change?’ Its not just about environmental conservation. That is too broad, I tell tree uses carbondioxide to manufacture its food (photosythesis). By doing so it reduce amount of Carbondioxide (one of greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere and there by reduce other impacts such as global warming, ozone layer depletion and eventually climate change. I also tell them about different ways that tree reduce poverty. In doing so, they are motivated to plant more trees because apart from curbing climate change, there are other opportunities.
We should have even some specific radio and TV programs to communicate climate change. Perhaps we should think more about people in rural areas who despite the fact that climate change is real, they’ve not accepted it in full..they still associate climate change with some traditional beliefs. They consider this term as modern one and it belongs to educated.
We should invest in using language that is understandable, that appears sensible to their context. We should continue to communicate it in primary and secondary schools.
Yet I think more conferences and events are held in towns and no representatives from vulnerable communities. Of course its English Discussion. Many Climate Chage discussions are for key educated stakeholders. I think the other time we should challenge even district councils to have their own discussions. We should bring the matter down to local smallholder farmers, those who suffer the most.
Happy Earth Day!