Creating a communication buzz in Zimbabwe
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.
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.
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.
Photostory: Learning and doing communications in Zimbabwe