Creating a communication buzz in Zimbabwe

17 October 2011

Mobile lectures, a mock newsroom tussle between journalists competing for their editor’s attention, and imagining a day in the life of policymakers and poor farmers were just some of the innovative elements of two workshops on climate change communication run by IIED in Zimbabwe in February 2011.

For a country that still lacks a climate change policy, communication has a big role to play in ensuring robust decision making and good governance. But many local communicators struggle to access reliable and timely information. And getting the right messages into the right formats for the right audiences remains a challenge.

Communications workshop photos

The workshops, which were funded by the UK Department for International Development, were designed to help non-governmental organisations and journalists overcome these barriers and play a bigger role in sparking and steering informed debate about climate change in their country.

Learning and doing

Each workshop gathered about 20 participants for a day and half of interactive learning and practical tasks. The staff from civil society organisations learnt how to develop communication strategies and target different messages to different audiences, using different communication channels. They got crash courses in writing clear and influential briefing papers for policymakers and newsworthy press releases for journalists.

For the journalists, a series of outdoor lectures and activities opened doors to ‘big’ issues, including the essentials of climate science and the challenges of adaptation and mitigation. This group also learnt about key institutions, from the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to national and local bodies. They explored how to report on climate change in ways that are relevant to their audiences and found many online resources to help them do this once back at their desks.

We are fighting hard to make sure that environment and climate change journalism blossom to avoid abuse of our environment.Farai Matebvu, Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association

By the end of each programme there was a buzz in the air, with participants keen to put their learning into action within the recently launched Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association.

Online extra

Photostory: Learning and doing communications in Zimbabwe

Creating a communication buzz 011. At the first in a series of mobile lectures, the journalists got to grips with the greenhouse effect.

Creating a communication buzz 022. David Dodman explains the interplay between risk and vulnerability in relation to the impacts of climate change.

Creating a communication buzz 033. The journalists who attended the workshop have gone on to form the Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association

Creating a communication buzz 044. Participants from civil society organisations having a ball as they share their top learning from the workshop.

Creating a communication buzz 055. Nearly three-quarters of participants at the workshop for civil society organisations said they were now better able to develop key advocacy messages from their organisation’s work.

Internal links

Why the media matters in a warming world: A guide for policymakers in the global South

Talking about a revolution: climate change and the media

External links

Zimbabwe Environmental Journalists Association