Climate information centres vital for rural development

Climate change literature, information and dissemination are comprehensive communication frameworks designed to reach out to the marginalised and isolated cases of human settlements. In this regard, climate information centres are vital in establishing a versatile and inclusive information repository or bank to support climate growth, resilience, record keeping and environmental sustainability.

Guest column with Peter Makwanya

Although urban centres are not any better in terms the availability of climate information centres, that is in developing countries, at least they have some connectivity. As part of efforts not to live the out disadvantaged rural communities behind, climate information centres would establish sustainable environmental links between the urban and rural areas. Indeed, the knowledge and communication gaps between urban and rural areas stifle development.

In other words, climate information centres would act as outdoor rural community libraries, stocked with up to date climate literature and visuals, comprehensive enough to communicate unfolding climate events. Transforming rural lives is at the centre of sustainable development goals, SDGs 1 (No poverty) 2 (Zero hunger) 11 (Climate action) and 13 (life-land) especially, and among other goals, where the youths, women and children are cases for concern.

It is quite clear that global poverty is absolutely centred in rural areas, the rural outlook is the focus of this article and issues being interrogated will be done so using rural lenses and world views, first and foremost. Of course, it is the rural people who need to be empowered because of their periphery nature coupled by lack of resources and vital social amenities.

Climate information centres are potentially interactive and hands on, experiential and instructive. It is also significant that rural communities should be drivers of their own livelihoods improvement, poverty alleviation, sustainable agricultural practices and socio-economic emancipation. This discourse is not advocating for the isolation of rural people or to give them special treatment, but they need to be blended and integrated into the current developmental paradigms so that they are just not left behind.

As such, rural climate information centres, apart from having written literature and colourful visuals, they can also be introduced to current new media technologies and genres such as the internet, social media, power-points, video production and oramedia. Trained rural communities should be in a position to empower one another, drawing knowledge from existing information banks, resource persons and community opinion leaders. This would indeed motivate and give them a sense of community ownership.

The introduction of climate information centres would act as basis for life-long long learning and empowering information services. When climate issues are discussed, the sad undertone is that rural communities are starved of relevant and current information, which is vital for their survival. As a result they are stuck deeply into information poverty and deficient developmental knowledge gaps.

To their advantage, rural communities also boast of indispensable know how of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS), which is a vital cog in climate change adaptation and mitigation. In this regard, IKS brings the humanist aspect of strong cultural practices and bonds that are both ethical and sacred. This traditional knowledge of knowing has in the past played a unifying role as well as offering an interactive relationship with nature. The main demerit of this paradigm is that although communities are brimming with this kind of knowledge, it is less documented. In this regard, community knowledge banks or holders of IKS can come forward to the climate information centres with their bags of knowledge, share and integrate it with the current environmental discourses.

Climate information centres are educative, informative and communicative. They can also provide people with knowledge on what exactly they can do with community water sources, community wetlands, agricultural land, wild animals and forests. By having information centres, communities will be able to store vital information, keep records, maintain them as well as coming up with climate protection groups or clubs for sharing critical information with groups or communities on their interactive knowledge sharing platforms.

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