Enhancing Media Reporting on Climate Change: Climate Action Narratives from Rufunsa
By Kondwani Thindwa - Panos Institute, Zambia
The urgency to comprehend and effectively communicate the complexities of climate change has never been more crucial. Climate change is one of our most pressing global challenges, demanding increased public and media attention. Media plays a crucial role in shaping public perceptions, influencing policy decisions, and fostering collective action, thereby underscoring the intricate relationship between media reporting on climate change, the power of storytelling, and the impact of field exposure on journalists in capturing locally-led climate actions.
In response to this pressing need, Panos Institute Southern Africa, in collaboration with the Zambia Institute of Independent Media Alliance (ZIIMA) and with support from SouthSouthNorth, convened a one-day training workshop in Lusaka aimed at empowering media professionals with the tools and insights necessary to report on climate change and its multifaceted narratives skillfully.
Following the media training workshop, in collaboration with the Zambia Alliance for Women (ZAW), a local VCA partner supported by Akina Mama Wa Afrika, participants were taken on a field trip to the Rufunsa district in the Bunda Bunda area. The field trip provided an immersive experience for the journalists, blending theoretical knowledge with practical field exposure. The agenda encompassed two integral components – to enhance storytelling techniques and foster a deeper understanding through field exposure.
MEDIA REPORTING ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The media serves as a primary source of information on climate change for the general public. Journalists play a pivotal role in disseminating accurate, timely, and impactful stories that convey the severity of the climate crisis. However, the challenge lies in presenting complex scientific data in a way that is accessible and engaging for a broad audience.
“Often, media reporting on climate change tends to focus on catastrophic events, such as extreme weather conditions, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels. While these stories are crucial for raising awareness, there is a need for a more nuanced approach that incorporates solutions, resilience efforts, and the human aspect of climate change.” – Joseph Kapandula from Itezhi Tezhi Community Radio Station.
Narratives highlighting the experiences of individuals and communities directly affected by climate change capture attention and inspire action. Personal stories create an emotional connection that statistics and data alone may struggle to achieve. As journalists weave narratives that resonate with their audience, they contribute to a more informed and engaged public.
NARRATIVES FROM THE FIELD EXPOSURE
Farmers in the Bunda Bunda area in Rufunsa are adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques to enhance food security and resilience amidst changing weather patterns. Agroecology and organic farming methods are gaining popularity, reducing reliance on chemical inputs and promoting biodiversity.
Florence Tembo Chapora, a local beneficiary of the VCA programme in Rufunsa district, shares that through her learning experience with ZAW, she has, over the years, witnessed improved soil health and increased biodiversity by eliminating synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. Through agroforestry, Florence says she has experienced higher yields in her field and experienced reduced reliance on synthetic fertilisers by integrating trees with her crops.
“The shade provided by the trees helps conserve water and prevent soil erosion while enhancing soil fertility and supporting biodiversity.” – Florence Tembo Chapora.
Evelyn Nshindano, another farmer from Bunda Bunda in Rufunsa, adds that diversifying crops can effectively manage soil nutrients, enhance soil health, reduce reliance on chemical fertilisers, optimise water usage, and promote biodiversity.
“Crop rotation not only helps maintain soil fertility and minimise the need for synthetic fertilisers but also reduces greenhouse gas emissions and protects against pests and diseases.” -Evelyn Nshindano.
Florence Chapora narrates that planting local seeds provides many advantages for sustainable agriculture. Local seeds display remarkable adaptability to specific environmental conditions, bolstering crop resilience and mitigating the risk of failures. The extensive genetic diversity enables crops to thrive in varying contexts, ward off pests and diseases, and adapt to evolving circumstances.
“Opting for local seeds has proven cost-effective and promotes self-sufficiency among the local farmers.”– Florence Tembo Chapora.
Media reporting on climate change is a powerful tool for shaping public discourse and influencing policy. By integrating compelling storytelling and leveraging the insights gained from field exposure, journalists can enhance the effectiveness of their reporting. The challenge is striking a balance between conveying the severity of the crisis and inspiring action, ensuring that the public remains informed, engaged, and motivated to contribute to a sustainable future.