The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) held a two day regional workshop on Climate Change Reporting for eastern Africa journalists from 18 – 19 December, Nairobi, Kenya. The regional workshop, which is being implemented under the LO- TCO Project 2014 - 2016 brought together 10 journalists from 9 countries in the region and was aimed at building the capacities of journalists in the region to report more effectively on climate change.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the President of the Kenya Correspondents Association (KCA) William Oloo, who facilitated the organisation of the workshop, said that the regional workshop is a follow up to the Continental Conference on Climate Change, which was held in Nairobi in July 2014, with the leadership of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ). Oloo, emphasized that the issue of climate change is a very important subject that the media had ignored for so long but can no longer afford to do so, as climate change had become not only an environmental issue but a serious human rights, economic, social and political issue. In Kenya, he said, journalists have already stated to form associations that are geared towards reporting on climate change and “greening the media”. He called on the journalists at the workshop to seize the advantages provided by the workshop to enhance their potentials in reporting on climate change.
The IFJ Senior Programme Officer for Africa, Pa Louis Thomasi, in his Solidarity Statement said that the issue of climate change had become a top priority for the IFJ. Over the past few years, he said, the IFJ Africa Office had come to realise that climate change is seriously under reported by African journalists. Moreover, reporting on climate change had become very challenging for African journalists, partly due to the complex nature of the subject. It is in this regard therefore, that the IFJ deem it fitting and necessary to enhance the capacities of journalists in the continent in reporting climate Change.
The Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) Eric Oduor, in his Keynote address to the participants at the workshop, said that the majority of journalists in the continent still do not understand the issues of climate change, and this is highly reflected in their work. Reporting on climate change has become as important as reporting on politics and the economy, he said. “The majority of journalists, who win awards today, mostly report on climate change”.
The workshop which was facilitated by a climate change specialist and trainer, Ochieng Ogodo, delved into the techniques of writing stories on climate change as well “story mapping”. It also explored critical areas of discuss in climate change, including mitigation and adaptation, engendering climate change, climate change as a human rights issue and the use of indigenous knowledge in combating climate change. In addition to these themes, there were also practical sessions in which the participants identified areas in their specific countries that they would like to work on, and how to apply the techniques that they have learnt in reporting on these issues.
The participants at the workshop called on media owners to give more importance to the coverage of climate change and to provide the necessary funds for journalists in order to facilitate their work in relation to climate change. They also called on editors to sensitize themselves on the issue of climate change and to give it the importance that it deserves on the newspapers, as well as radio and television programmes.
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