Africa must close the climate change information gap

Climate change

By Peter Makwana

In the context of climate change and many other development paradigms, Africa finds itself lacking in many respects.

Africa is said to lack technology transfer, lack of integration of climate policy into development goals, lack of documentation of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) and information management, property rights intellectual property and patents, ambition and political will, among others.

The list is quite long and disappointing, but what is essentially African is underdevelopment. It is up to Africa to demonstrate and prove to the world that these perceived shortcomings are the result of what continues to be stolen and repackaged in developed countries, returning to Africa as new knowledge or new products.

The continent has been accused of lacking reliable science, climate research and innovation. In other words, nothing comes from Africa except raw materials, poverty and lack of political will to tackle the impacts of climate change. So many challenges and information gaps that stand on the continent’s will to move forward and fight against the impacts of climate change without the help of developed countries.

The continent should be actively involved in climate change related activities that influence people’s knowledge and awareness on climate change.

When it comes to climate change knowledge and information, the continent needs to move from levels of awareness to presentation and dissemination of information.

People need in-depth knowledge of climate change, not basic information, much of which is still lacking on the continent.

Even levels of climate awareness are still low on the continent as the majority cannot link climate impacts to their local situations. These are knowledge and information gaps that have broad implications for climate change.

While the continent is still struggling on the level of awareness because it cannot fund its own climate initiatives, it must also eliminate lies, climate propaganda and improve the political will to fight climate change.

How knowledgeable are the foot soldiers, climate knowledge brokers and activists on the ground on climate change issues? Even when climate knowledge and awareness prevail, how are issues of access control and fencing addressed, amid toxic policies?

Knowledge about the impact of disasters and climate-induced hazards, in the form of floods, droughts and epidemics, on livelihoods and social cohesion, should be firmly in the public domain. More state-led programs to integrate youth and school children into climate change activities are needed to prepare and build their climate literacy and resilience.

Access to climate knowledge, education and information for all children and young people in an interdisciplinary way across all curricula requires support, commitment and consistency. All of these initiatives lead to insights into climate change and sustainable development.

It is also important to know how climate change is demystified, discussed at the family level and passed on to school as common knowledge, as well as how religious issues are propagated and brought to the fore.

If information on climate change is not treated in this way, the information blackout will affect the future of children and young people.

The continent’s adaptation gaps are a benchmark of Africa’s position and placement on the global map of emissions information gaps. How well known are these climate inactions and their associated costs and their effects on human livelihoods?

The continent needs strong climate voices and ambition to make climate change a priority, not an afterthought or talking about it when it suits them or when there are monetary values ​​and opportunities along the way.

With emerging and recurring disasters, issues of loss and damage are inherent and also in the public domain. The knowledge needed to communicate and quantify them in terms of losses and costs is not yet available.

Climate-related mental health issues remain mystified and continue to be treated as spiritual or traditional rather than climate-induced.

Therefore, the continent needs to come out of this type of knowledge and integrate it into all sectors.

The other issue Africa should demystify is the impact of population density on climate change, which is not always openly discussed or discouraged in many African settings.

As a continent, these issues are often referred to as high fertility levels and women’s reproductive rights.

No one is against the right to reproduction and birth, but when the population increases, more resources and space are needed. If resources and space are dwindling, there are shortages, leading to conflict.

The continent continues to experience knowledge and information gaps in how the majority deals with early warning systems and weather forecasting. These have been overtaken by climate change and should be incorporated into technological developments rather than exclusively traditional lenses.

The continent should be very concerned when its IKS medical breakthroughs and innovations are shunned on the world stage and treated as lacking research even by the World Health Organization. It means there is a place, place or destination waiting to authenticate and quality control Africa’s knowledge and information. The other area of ​​concern is why renewable energy as a panacea to Africa’s energy poverty and energy challenges is not yet well understood by those meant to benefit from these transitions. This also includes the benefits to be derived from carbon markets and credits. All of these remain gaps in knowledge and information on the African continent despite the publicity onslaught of developed countries.

On topical issues of adaptation and mitigation, Africa’s adaptation finance gaps continue to widen, due to delays and rigors associated with applying for and releasing pledged funds from multinational donors. .

When this funding arrives will depend on how African countries manage or channel it.

Obviously, if the finances are not channeled to good and intended uses, then the source of the funds would not be happy.

The success of any climate change adaptation and mitigation also requires media expertise on climate change which should facilitate the communication of information education and bridge knowledge and information gaps in the public. Lack of expertise in media reporting on climate occurs when journalists do not understand the climate change issues they are reporting on or when they politicize climate initiatives.

Climate change, by its problematic nature, must be situated in its African context while being influenced by global projections and reported using African lenses and perspectives. This is important for the reports to meet the needs of the target audiences.

Despite the availability of water bodies in many African countries, nations continue to depend on rain-fed agriculture without exploiting the opportunities offered by mechanization and irrigation.

In many African countries, irrigation becomes an afterthought, especially when drought hits them. All of the above discussions are concerning and cannot be separated from the issues of climate injustice that the global landscape is trying to eradicate and put people at the center of climate change resilience and mitigation.

  • Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in a personal capacity and can be contacted at: [email protected]

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