Climate Change and the Media – by Olumide Idowu

The Policy Advocacy Project Partnership on Climate Change (PAPPCC), a network of Civil Society Organization and Professionals concerned about the threat of Climate Change to Lagos, recently organized a 2-Day Sensitization workshop for Media Professionals with two cardinal objectives: a.) Demystifying the concept of Climate Change and b.) Advocating for a robust policy framework addressing Climate Change in the State.

The workshop for journalists and media practitioners was held in partnership with DFID – State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) with the theme, ‘Strengthening Citizens Voice and Climate Change: The Role of the Media’.  According to the organizers, the workshop was aimed at building the capacity of Media Professionals and prevailing issues on Climate Change in Lagos State.

The Day 1 of the workshop witnessed training sessions by Speakers in the field of Climate Change Advocacy and Intervention.
Speaking at the workshop was Barr. Titi Akosa, Executive Director of the 21st Centre for Century Issues. She implored Media practitioners to be vaster while reporting Climate related issues.
‘Reporting should be human centered. Human faces should be on reports as regards Climate Change. Taking cognizance of people that are socially vulnerable, people with disabilities and how it affects these different people  should make a difference while reporting”,  Akosa noted.

The Second Speaker was Dr. Ayo Tella, Producer, and ‘Our Environment’ Film with focus on what media professionals should look out for when it comes to delivering Climate Change Reports. According to Tella, “For effective communication to enable the citizens know about Climate Change, media practitioners need to share in the idea of the citizens as well as their opinions. When communicating with the masses, media practitioners must ensure barriers of noise, language, perception, jargons are avoided”.

Rounding out the workshop was a presentation delivered by Francis Anyeagbu giving insights on how to utilize Social Media Networks to report Climate Change issues as well as other advocacy services with discussion focusing on ‘Citizen Voice Advocacy: The Place of Social Media’.  According to Anyeagbu, “The Power that News Media has created ensured that different issues are generate and solutions are propounded and implemented as prompt as possible.”

Day 2 of the workshop was a field task where Media Practitioners cutting across; Broadcast, Print as well as Online Media Networks visited the Bishop Kodji Community, a community under Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area (LGA harboring about 25,000 – 30000 residents. The Island can be accessed from CMS with the aid of a speedboat in less than 30 minutes. Bishop Kodji Island is made up of seven communities amongst which are the Sabo Kodji, Gonure Kodji, Akopanawa, Iredu, and Agala Ayedun.  Others under this LGA include; Sagbo Kodji, Whlak Kodji, Akoponawa and Agbonjido communities.

The aim of the field task was to identify the social issues that communities were facing.  The issues were  categorized under; Livelihood, Environment, Health, Water and Energy. Also, the visit to the community would be used as a point of reference for other communities under the Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area (LGA). To witness the visit and talk with the press, were representatives of the communities including the Head of the host community, Chief Sewanu Felix.  According to Chief Sewanu, who addressed the Press, the community is presently faced with many challenges in the categories of Education, Electricity, and Water.

It was also disclosed during the press briefing by the Heads of Community that the only Government Nursery and Primary School in Bishop Kodji community, Bishop Kodji Nursery and Primary School, need complete rehabilitation as the building is totally dilapidated. Students  have no access to a conducive environment for reading and education.

A visit to the School showed an environment that looked unsafe and scanty.  Speaking with Instructors in the School, it was disclosed that sometimes when they get to class to start School Activities, they find dead pigs in the classroom.  Instructors have to first clear the pigs in their way and clean up the classroom  before commencing classes with the students.  The School building lacked doors, sufficient chairs and windows. Tutors also complained about Security Level of the School which is loose due to all these missing factors and lack of Government Assistance.

A visit to the community also proved that things are behind when it comes to alternate energy development. There is only a non-functioning state-sponsored solar project which was installed years back. The solar project was meant to power water pumps and fish driers.  The community relies on fishing and boat-carving.  The solar project would have helped the water system and the related industries , but the reverse is the case now. Further, Chief Sewanu noted that the people of the community do not have access to portable water. They tend to sail their canoes away from the community to get water that can be bought and drank by the residents.

Residents are also unstable health-wise as the community is being taken over by dirts and garbage from the Sea.  The Deputy Baale, Bishop Kodji Community, and Chief Victor implored the government for help.  They asked for aid to boost  the present state of living of the community, as well as for neighboring communities under the LGA.

Olumide CLIMATE Idowu

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