SELIPHAR MUSUNGU, KAKAMEGA
Climate change crisis has become rampant in Kenya as it cuts across all sectors; political, health, sports and nutrition and food security among others. Due to the adverse effects of climate change in the country, journalists have to play a big role in educating and informing the society on how to mitigate and adopt it.
Media Council of Kenya led by Media Training and Development Director Victor Bwire has made an initiative in training journalists from across the country on how to report, write and focus on development stories in line with climate change and food security.
Speaking to the first lot of journalists during the training that took place in Kakamega, which included a field visit to Kakamega forest, the remaining tropical forest in Kenya, Bwire said that the media must play the big role of educating, shaping, agenda setting and gearing behavior change to ensure the adverse climate change effect is curbed.
“Climate change is an issue that cuts across every sector of our daily lives. This calls for journalists to put their best foot forward in reporting these stories in a human interesting manner to be best understood by the society.” He said.
He also said when journalists turn to reporting such stories it will help the community to know the role played by the government in conserving, protecting and rehabilitating natural resources like the Kakamega forest, which plays a big role when it comes to rainmaking, herbal medicine and water sources.
“The purpose of this training is to help you as a journalist to gain knowledge and experience of telling and writing award winning climate change stories that are result oriented and beneficial to society.” Said Bwire
He also promised journalists that the Media Council of Kenya will offer financial support and mentorship to those who are ready to take up the task on climate change reporting. He urged them to enroll on the short course being offered by the body on climate change to enhance their abilities.
“We have traveling grants and a short course that will help you as journalists to sharpen your skills in writing climate change stories. The short course will take place online. We urge you to enroll and learn how to write well researched stories related to climate change.” Mr. Bwire said
He urged journalists to do more research and read widely on articles related to climate change and be familiar with the many story ideas. Some of the suggested articles are Climate Change Action Plan 2018 – 2030, Kenyan Constitution Right to Clean Environment under social pillar vision 2030 and Agenda 2063.
MCK Assistant Director for Training and Curriculum Development Ms. Christine Nguku advised journalists to always relate their stories with daily lives and ones that someone can relate to so as to educate the audience on the need for the fight against climate change .
“As much as we would like to make a change in the society on climate change, make sure that your story can be understood by that grandmother at home. Allow them to relate your story with their daily activities.” Said Ms Christine
University of Nairobi climate scientist Mr. Cromwel Busolo urged the trainees to educate society on the importance of coming up with sustainable measures that will conserve the forests in the country as a way to regulate the amount of greenhouse released in the atmosphere hence causing global warming
“Forest like this play a great role in stabilizing greenhouse gases that are released especially during human activities. We ought to be at the forefront in ensuring that we conserve such forests if we intend to win the war against climate change.” Prof. Busolo said.
One of the solutions he gave is to leave fallen trees to decompose on the forest floors.
“When trees fall, let them decompose there because carbon dioxide that was stored in the cellulose material of the plant in the leaf goes back to the soil for storage and it is reused again in the forest soil.” he explained.
Prof. Busolo taught the key concepts of climate change and basic terms the journalists can use when writing their stories.
Other trainers included Rachel Kibui who is a writer and climate change trainer. She explained the need to engage everyone in the fight against climate change as it affects everyone in one way or another.