Yaounde, Cameroon, 26 June 2018 (ECA) - Cameroon journalists have been enjoined to take interest in reporting climate information data and services, cardinal instruments in development planning for policy makers and other stakeholders. The call was made by officials of the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Advanced School of Mass Communication, ASMAC Yaounde, at a two-day workshop, June 25-26, 2018 to enhance the reporting skills of communicators on the use of climate information services in development planning.
“The media has an important role to play in informing policy makers and end users on the use of climate services and data to better address environmental and development challenges” said Professor Nana Nzepa, head of the Information technology department, ASMAC Yaounde.
With increasingly extreme weather taking a toll on farming, incomes and infrastructure projects, mainstreaming climate data and services into development planning will help countries better meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and associated mechanisms established through the global climate governance processes, he added.
The overarching goal of enhancing the uptake of Climate Information Services (CIS) is to provide governments, people and organizations with reliable, timely, user-friendly information tailored to reduce climate risks and related losses as well as in capitalizing on emerging opportunities for development, noted ACPC.
“Hence, factoring CIS into policy, planning and practice is crucial for Africa to achieve its development aspirations for enhanced trade competitiveness, reduced poverty and sustainable economic growth,” Journalists were told.
“The media has not been very proactive in providing the correct information and in time for decision-making. Engaging media in climate information dissemination is therefore an important step in ensuring that climate information is packaged in a form that can easily be understood and that it is also received in a timely manner” Professor Nzepa added.
According to the ACPC, the uptake and use of CIS in Africa is influenced by the lack of reliable historical observations, coarse scale of future climate projections, weak coordinated CIS delivery, among others. On the side of the users, the main obstacles for poor uptake and utilization of CIS include limited awareness about the existence of specific climate information, poor data accessibility, and lack of capacity to use climate information in decision making processes.
It is against this backdrop that the training of over 30 journalists in Cameroon was organised under the theme "the use of the e-learning platform on climate information and services mainstreaming in the planning and economic development processes".
Participants were empowered with teaching tools and skills in the dissemination of climate information and services and the need to mainstream climate information in their different media content and programmes to better inform policy makers and end users.
“We expect you as communicators to better advocate and sensitize legislators, decision-makers, the private sector, investors and other stakeholders on the issue and role of Climate Information Services (CIS) in development planning processes” said Professor Nana Nzepa. “But to do this you must first understand the basic notion of climate information services and data” he said.
The participants from community radio, national and private newspapers, radio and television appreciated the training, acknowledging its importance amidst growing climate threats.
“It is time for the voices of Journalists to be heard in the fight against climate change, thanks to the two days training I now know the importance of climate information services” notes Jean Didier Ayisi, journalist and workshop participant.
Cameroon just like many African countries today suffers from the effects of climate change with many economic and social sectors increasingly vulnerable to floods, droughts and storms.
Environment experts say the dissemination of climate information services by the media for the benefit of specific users remains essential to support Africa's response to climate change.
“The fight against climate change can only be effective if decision makers and especially the population have ample climate related information” said Augustine Njamnshi of Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, PACJA Cameroon.
Approximately 80 percent of Cameroon's rural people depend on rainfed agriculture for a living, making them highly vulnerable to more extreme weather associated with climate change. “The importance of climate information service to their activity cannot be over emphasised” Njamnshi said.
Investment in the deployment of robust climate information and services delivery system for the effective implementation of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and associated mechanisms established through the global climate governance processes is crucial according to ACPC.
The Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) was designed by the UK Department for International Development (DfiD) in 2015 to facilitate the uptake of climate information by policy makers and vulnerable groups especially young people and women. Its pan-African component is led by the ACPC, which is a hub for demand led knowledge on climate change in Africa.
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