Abduwali Abdi is a Disaster Risk expert in charge of the Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa (CONFER)

Disaster Risk and Climate change experts are asking media professionals to begin to specialise in climate change reporting through enhancing their expertise and knowledge on  climate.

A Disaster Risk expert Abduwali Abdi who is in charge of the Co-production of Climate Services for East Africa (CONFER) project funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 said that journalists are not climate experts, “yet they are expected to unpack climate information for the general public, that is well understood in order to ensure disaster risk reduction,” said Abduwali and added, “there is therefore need to train them in understanding climate, in order to have a better knowledge on climate”.

Speaking during the Synergy Building Workshop for National Meteorological, and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and Stakeholders in Climate Information and Services drawn from Kenya and Tanzania, Abduwali who also the Norwegian Capacity (NORCAP) expert based at the Igad Climate Predictions and Application Center (ICPAC) said if journalists are well grounded on climate reporting, “they will be able to confidently report on various climatic phenomena that is affecting the weather patterns and hence enable the public to understand and be able to adapt to the changing climate.”

The training funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 is working towards training media practitioners and climate experts on effective communication of weather and climate information in order to enable communities to be more resilient in the face of increase disasters on account of climate change. 

“We hope to establish a progressive partnership between the NMHSs, state agency policymakers, the private sector, and journalists in Eastern Africa,” said Abduwali and added, “knowledge and technology transfer will contribute to improved climate services in the region through supporting the great work of ICPAC that will ultimately empower NMHS to their fullest potential.”

The capacity building being undertaken under CONFER and NORCAP is aimed at improving understanding and enhancing the use and uptake of the ICPAC climate services.

In an interview, Abduwali said that training the media on the East Africa Drought Watch will enhance the ability of media practitioners to track hazards and effectively report on them before they become disasters.

The East Africa Drought Watch is one of the service developed by the Igad Climate Predictions and Applications Center (ICPAC) as part of the Intra-ACP Climate Services Project in collaboration with the Drought group of the Natural Disaster Risk Unit at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and provides automatic 10-day warnings for developing and actual drought events as well as recovery from drought conditions.

Abduwali noted that if well understood, the East Africa Drought Watch could aid in reducing the negative impacts of droughts by ensuring resilience by communities that are mainly impacted, through loss of livestock, and livelihoods.

A User Engagement Expert at IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) Collison Lore said that a knowledgeable media on reporting climate and weather can aid the public in building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

“Long-term climate information can provide opportunities for adaptation against the impacts of long-term anthropogenic trends in temperature and rainfall,” said Lore and added, “but many of the region’s economies are dependent rain-fed agriculture and seasonal climate variability can pose a challenge to agriculture, pastoralism and energy production.”

Lore noted that effective reportage using the East Africa Drought Watch could increase resilience among the community adding that 90% of the disasters in East Africa are due to weather, climate hazards, “leaving the region as one of the most vulnerable to extreme events.

“Considering the high dependency of the economic systems in the region on natural resources, the impacts of weather and climate extremes have far-reaching socioeconomic consequences,” said Lore.

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