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ACCCA experiences: Risk communication, social learning and storyboard exercise

Lessons learned from ACCCA (Advancing Capacity for Climate Change Adaptation) workshop in Cape Town.
Multiple Authors
Charles Schartung

Lessons learned from ACCCA workshop in Cape Town

– The risks communicated by communities are usually ‘peripheral’ in that they often point to issues that are exacerbated by climate change as the main threats. For example, people might see poor sanitation as a greater threat than a flood because the flood event presents a greater risk to their health is that it increases the risk of their water being contaminated.

– Local governance structures are useful structures in communicating risk as they often have greater influence and decision making power in their respective areas/constituencies than the government institutions would to drive awareness and adaptations.

  • It is a big challenge to communicate climate change impacts to communities. The first concern is related to a good understanding of what we have to communicate and then how to use the information to communicate, what purpose, what language to use. how many consultation we have, what approaches, how much time we have to speak to people with which languages.

– Risk communication can be community-dependent and culture-dependent.

– It’s more about convincing or training local people how to adapt to climate change and cope, adjust to disaster, rather than making decision for them, which might make things worse.

Myths about communicating risk

* That we need to inform communities about the risks they face and what they can do about it. Suggestion: Be careful to elicit community knowledge of risks – and make an effort not to drown out community information through your efforts- which can appear disorganized from the scientific perspective.

* Simple tool syndrome – Communities need simple tools, techniques and methods of communication -Timeliness often dictates we need to communicate rapidly – giving access to information is sometimes better than translating that information ahead of time.

* Promoting awareness is the major aim of communicating with communities – this is only one of MANY reasons for communication – sometimes, you may want to encourage the delivery of information that allows communities to compare costs and opportunities

* 2 way dialogue – Communicating risk to communities is not a one-time, low cost effort – Requirements dictate an ongoing information exchange. Must offer time for sharing and reflection.

Communicating with the public: 10 questions to ask

  1. Why are we communicating?
  2. Who is our audience?
  3. What do our audiences want to know?
  4. What do we want to get across?
  5. How will we communicate?
  6. How will we listen?
  7. How will we respond?
  8. Who will carry out the plans? When?
  9. What problems or barriers have we planned for?
  10. Have we succeeded?

Source: U.S. Public Health Service (1995). Risk Communication: Working With Individuals and Communities To Weigh the Odds.

Risk Communication in ACCCA pilot actions

The ACCCA project is currently supporting 19 pilot actions in 17 countries in Africa and Asia. The risk communication methods proposed/currently in use in some of these pilot actions have been documented and their strengths and weaknesses outlined. It is hoped that the document will be a useful learning tool for ACCCA pilot actions and beyond. This table is also available in document form on the ACCCA knowledge base, where there are also details on the different pilot actions and further information on the project.

Risk Communication in ACCCA pilot actions: methodological strengths and weaknesses

Method Country Target audience Project partners / roles Advantages Disadvantages
Pamphlets Kenya All stakeholders Easy dissemination

Offer brief description of project purpose

Useful as awareness raising tool

Relevant to the literate

Pamphlets can be costly to print

Policy Briefs Kenya Decision makers
Project reports South Africa All stakeholders
Information database Kenya Targeted users Easy access to relevant information Usually housed in a particular place and requires access to telecommunications technology
Drama South Africa All stakeholders Target wide audience range (especially the illiterate) Requires time and willingness to participate as both cast and audience member(s)
Presentations South Africa Targeted groups Good for targeted information May involve travelling to preferred population and can often come across as top down approach
Focus group discussions Philippines, South Africa All stakeholders Inclusive of all those involved/present Require time and willingness to participate within a group
Bulletins (to local communities, local, national and regional government) Burkina Faso All stakeholders
Books* Mongolia All stakeholders Offer detailed information within the subject matter/area.

Available for use to different audiences over long periods of time.

Publishing costs may be high.

Reading can be time consuming. Proficient level of literacy required

Working papers Mongolia Decision makers and officials
Synthesis papers Mongolia Decisions makers and
Video materials Malawi, Mongolia Community members and other stakeholders Output is made by community and therefore perhaps easier to engage with

Subject material is relevant as it depicts real life/issues

High costs of production

Careful planning is required

Technical expertise required

TV Programmes Mongolia, Ghana, Philippines All stakeholders Wide reach Limited to areas with reception and a TV set
Local participation workshops Mongolia , Philippines, Community members and other targeted groups Great platform for engagement of multi-level stakeholders

Good opportunity for knowledge exchange

Some members of the group may be more dominant than others, hierarchy must be recognized

Workshops may be costly and require time to organize

Brochures Mongolia All stakeholders
Multi stakeholder forums Philippines All stakeholders
Consultations Philippines, Malawi Community members
???Computer modeling Philippines Scientists Derived from scientific information Requires technological equipment, electricity and telecommunications

Specialized expertise required

Peer reviewed articles Kenya, Malawi Scientists and other stakeholders
User friendly climate information Malawi All stakeholders Challenge in simplifying language without losing meaning

Local language(s) may not have vocabulary for detailed expression

???Demonstrations Ghana
Household visits Ghana Community members Provide a good platform for respondents to get detailed information and seek clarification where needed Time consuming for respondents

Timing of visits should be take into account communal or seasonal activities such as farm cultivation or community meetings

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