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EASUSWATCH WORKING WITH THE MEDIA IN EAST AFRICA TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE CHANGE
The East African Sustainability (SusWatch) Network is a network of NGOs from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania spearheaded by Uganda Coalition for Sustainable Development (UCSD), Sustainable Environmental Development Watch Network (SusWatch Kenya), and Tanzania Coalition for Sustainable Development (TCSD). EA SusWatch Regional Secretariat is hosted by UCSD in Kampala, Uganda.
The Vision of EA SusWatch is to attain a world where sustainable development principles drive social and economic development processes.
The Mission of EA SusWatch is to catalyze and mobilize civil society in Eastern African to exert accountability from governments and international development institutions to achieve a socially and environmentally sustainable world.
The mandate of EA SusWatch is to monitor and advocate for the effective implementation of national and regional obligations to International agreements and other arrangements for sustainable development in Eastern Africa”.
EA SusWatch is currently implementing the LVEMP II Civil Society Watch Project that seeks to lobby and advocate for realization of results-based performance from the Lake Victoria Environmental Management Project (LVEMP II) and implementation of the East African Climate Change Policy (EACCP, April 2011).
How we work with the media in East Africa
Building on the capacity of journalists and their media houses in East Africa by empowering them with environmental information including knowledge and up-dates on Climate Change has become a key area of involvement in advocacy and lobbying for environmental sustainability.
Involving broadcast media (radio and television), print media, advocacy analysis and on-lone media in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the EASUSWATCH has empowered many communities with information through the media houses in climate change issues such as International negotiations, the East African Community Climate Change Policy, research findings and trends in specific sectors affected by climate change such as water and sanitation, energy and ecological management, food security, vulnerable populations (elderly, women, children, sick people) and Regional meetings and processes of environmental sustainability around Lake Victoria Basin.
Field recording of a community in Masaka –Uganda .This group collects plastic bottles for a recycling plant.
Why we involve the media in Climate Change Lake Victoria Basin and the Great Lakes Region of Eastern and Central Africa?
Lake Victoria is the second largest Lake in the world located along the Equator surrounded by 5 East African countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. It is Africa's largest lake and has a surface area of 26,600 square miles (68,800 square kilometers).
The shoreline however is shared between Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda are in the Lake Basin. The activities in these 2 countries affect the Lake.
Lake Victoria faces many environmental challenges that affect its ecology, water resources and livelihoods of more than 10 million people who derive their stay from the Lake.
Pollution of the Lake by chemicals and fertilizers washed from up-stream catchments to the Lake; which then became conducive spots for water hyacinth growth, HIV/AIDS affecting people in the basin, depletion of fertile soils due to soil erosion, poor sanitation practices, increasing population of people in the rural and urban setting in the Lake basin; have all expounded the rate at which climate change is affecting this region.
While Kenya has a 6% of the shoreline, Tanzania has 52% of the shoreline and Uganda has 42% of the Shoreline of this Lake. However, Burundi and Rwanda communities that form the Lake Basin have activities that affect the Lake adversely hence in advocating for strong environmental practices, the information is targeted to all the five countries of the East African Community and beyond.
Passengers on Lake Victoria in Kisumu-Kenya
How we involve the media in Climate Change issues
Using various approaches, the media has been engaged in following and being interested in issues of climate change in East Africa and beyond.
Working with more than 17 media houses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, media trainings have been done through face-to-face interactions with media training organizations such as the Rural Development Media Communication and the Uganda Broadcasting Corporation training department. On-line trainings are continuously undertaken to equip journalists with skills and contacts for further information on Climate Change.
Climate Change Policy Assessment and Adaptation in East Africa
Many rural and indigenous peoples’ communities in East Africa are grappling with effects of climate change. Various communities in arid, semi-arid, mountainous areas, urban areas and fishing areas are observing and experiencing early impacts due to the particular vulnerability of their locations and therefore the media needs to inform them on coping mechanisms as well as remind Partner States of East Africa to build reliance and allocate resources to enhance climate smart livelihoods.
The EASUSWATCH has done three key studies in relation to 1. Climate Change and energy, 2. Climate Change and water and Sanitation and 3. Climate Change and food security and nutrition. These studies are following up series of the assessment of the East African Community Climate Change Policy of 2011, which has since been abridged in English and Kiswahili; and widely circulated by the EASUSWATCH to various stakeholders including the media.
Media Monthly Briefs and Climate Change Up-dates
Monthly media briefing sessions are held in the three countries to provide information up-coming Climate Change and environment events in the countries, region and globally. Specific technical persons are invited to present about environment issues that the media finds useful to communicate to the public. On-line media support is done through a dedicated media face book where up-dates and news links are shared with the wider media community in East Africa.
Special Media Reporting Grants
Special media grants are offered to journalists who wish to delve in specific areas of interest and publish features and investigative articles on environment issues and their impact on livelihoods of persons with in East Africa. There is also a photographic competition for whose best journalists are awarded prizes.
6 special Media Reporting Grants have been awarded between 2013 and 2015.
Newspaper pull out of an Article published as part of the Special Media Reporting Grant
As a way of recognizing good work by the media, the EA Suswatch collaborates with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), EASUSWATCH contributed to the Media Awards in 2014 with support to the best journalist report on environmental protection of Lake Victoria.
Supporting the media to attend Community Meetings in climate change hot spot areas
Target areas within Lake Victoria Basin include the three river basins on Nyando in Kenya, Simiyu in Tanzania and Katonga in Uganda. Journalists have been supported to meet communities in the three catchment areas to be able to identify and discuss issues of environment that have impacted on their livelihoods and how they have adapted to climate change. Issues of water pollution, deforestation, sanitation, fish depletion, pro-longed dry spells and flooding are common climate change challenges in the three hot spot areas.
Media team was part of the sanitation campaign at Senyondo Landing site in Mpigi-Uganda.
Conversely, the journalists learn from the community. Understanding indigenous knowledge of weather, long-term observations of environmental change and community-based strategies for resilience is a package that the journalists collect from communities they interact with.
Communities are aware of indigenous knowledge and how managing such knowledge and applying it to their climate change challenges has enabled them respond and effectively adapt to climate change.
A copy of the Lake Victoria Climate Change Readiness Brief no. 2