BY GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
JOURNALISTS have been urged to help raise awareness on climate change issues to mitigate the effect of national disasters such as cyclones and droughts.
The call was made last week during a Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (Sardc) virtual media workshop on reporting disasters in the Sadc region.
The meeting was attended by Information deputy minister Kindness Paradza, Unesco Southern Africa regional director Hubert Gijzen and journalists from across the region.
Sardc executive director Munetsi Madakufamba said there was need for Sadc countries to share experiences on how to deal with natural disasters.
“The media plays several roles in the national and regional discourses, among them, raising awareness, educating the public and mobilising public support for, and involvement in national and regional programmes on climate change,” Madakufamba said.
“It is in this regard that the Sardc and Unesco Regional Office for Southern Africa saw it fit to convene this workshop to provide a platform for journalists from the region to share experiences on how they have responded to the ever-increasing challenge of natural disasters such as cyclones,” he said.
Gijzen said the media could assist duty bearers in addressing accountability issues during disasters.
“The need to understand better the effectiveness of the media in addressing disasters is even more important nowadays because of the climate change impact.
“Cyclones, wildfires, floods or windstorms — climate change — poses a significant threat to people and to the global economy and the achievement of sustainable development goals. In Zimbabwe, Cyclone Idai left approximately 4 000 houses destroyed in seven districts of Chipinge, Chimanimani, Buhera, Bikita, Mutare, Gutu, and Chiredzi),” Gijzen said.
He said an empowered media could educate and warn the public about impending disasters and transmit information about affected areas to alert duty bearers, first responders and other relief organisations on geographical areas needing prioritisation as well as provide a platform for citizens’ discussions on disaster preparedness.
Gijzen said the losses incurred due to Cyclone Idai which ravaged Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Malawi were estimated to run into billions of dollars.
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