Climate Science Workshop Brings Good Tidings to Journalists
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25 July 2019
Author :   Padili Mikomangwa
: >> Image Credits by:Padili Mikomangwa

TANGA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - The first-time ever residential climate-science workshop took place in Tanga, Tanzania attracting around 40 participants. Climate scientists and journalists sat on the same table and dissectedclimate-science complexities to improve  climate reporting skills.

Organized by BBC-Media Action Kenya and Tanzania, Network of Climate Journalist of the Greater Horn of Africa (NECJOGHA) and SouthSouthNorth(SSN).
A diverse panel of journalist from various influencing media houseswere oriented on harmonizing their roles in empowering communities with accurate weather and climate information services.

The workshop saw the creation of an important bedrock of climate information dissemination, laid by Tanzania Meterological Agency, research consortias and journalist, that will transform climate reporting in Tanzania and across the East African region.

Patrick Luganda, NECJOGHA Executive Director, highlighted  the language factor has been a challenge in climate reporting, hence it was dealt in the workshop, appreciatinglanguage commonality so that the end-user at the grassroots (farmer, fishermen and etc.) can understand easily.

“We are here to build the capacity of the media to bring them to work together with the scientists in one room, now for one week these two systems merge together by understanding how the media works(scientists) and for media to understand how the scientists work” he adds.

Dr. ZabloneOwiti, Research Fellow for the Future Climate for Africa sweetened leveled various climate science parameters of importance to the journalists with elaborative infographics which made journalists understand clearly complex scientific issues which were cumbersome to report previously.

“ It was great to include some users (such as agriculture and fisheries extension officers) in the workshop to highlight the challenges they face in receiving and delivering climate information to end-users. This ensured that, beside learning about the available climate information and the inherent uncertainty, journalists were able to understand the information needs from end users and that their role is not just passing the information but also translating the information into actionable advisories targeting specific users”. He added.

Mr. Wilberforce Kikwasi, Meteorologist from Tanzania Meteorological Agency(TMA), who is a pivotal player across climate science information dissemination in enhancing efforts executed by early warning centers and disaster management departments in Tanzania, has helpedbridging the gap between the information gathers and journalists who relay complexscientific information to the audience.

“ I expect a lot of questions from journalists and wider coverage on climate issues, as they are now well informed on climate science matters, more importantly, improving cooperation between media and TMA, for effective reporting ” he added.

Climate reporting in Tanzania, will never be the same as Monica Mutoni, TMA-Communication Officer, ensures stakeholders for efficiency and accuracy in reporting.

“ it was clear that the complexity of scientific weather and climate information were simplified and scientists and journalists had time for consultation which was easier for both sides to understand the needs of each side and implement” she added.

Ms. Sophie Mbugua, science journalist from Kenya, highlighted the workshop’s ability to fuse collaboration between scientists from various areas and journalists, whereby she found the balance of participants to have driven key points home.

Mbugua intends to incorporate the rich knowledge and insights gathered into in-depth stories with credibility, researched facts and depth, resonating with what the Kenyan community need to read.

Radio Free Africa(one of Tanzania’s renowned radio ), Presenter/program managerYusuphMagasha,confidently cited his understanding level has heightened, but also, increased-weight on climate and weather services information reporting.

“ As journalists, we need to inform the listeners with efficacious and precise climate information that is significant to their lives, especially on farming, fishing, and livestock keeping, but also adding data journalism to give the information extra weight”Magasha adds.

Ms. Beth Mackay, Knowledge Manager at Future for Africa Programme for South South North (SSN) had high hopes for the workshop to create a two-way dialogue between journalists and scientists, adding “I had hoped for it to create an atmosphere of collaboration, which will allow a co-production of knowledge between scientists and journalists”.

Journalists across Tanzania working for various media houses, have been taking interest in climate reporting, something valuable to climate change communication. It is the matter of time, for communities to be well versed on climate related affairs.

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