Climate experts opt to meet here soon


A partial view of delegates at the meeting. Seychelles’ delegate, Seychelles’ Nation principal editor George Thande, is on the far left, back row

Climate change adviser Dr Mclay Kanyangarara announced this in an interview with Nation during a Common Market for East and Southern Africa’s (Comesa) meeting for journalists which took place in Uganda last week.

“We are coming there because we would like to learn how Seychelles has managed make virtually every citizen aware of the need for conservation, which is not something you can say of other countries on the main continent,” he said.

Sporting a T-shirt with the name Seychelles printed on it after he addressed the 60 delegates and guests who included ministers and parliamentarians, he said though we have tried hard, climate change is already impacting these islands negatively.

He said this region and Africa are generally more of a carbon emission sinks rather than polluters, and the media as well as advocates have reason to keep reminding the many who do not want to cut their emissions what harm they are doing.

“We need to appeal to their conscience. We know that millions of people will have to migrate from their countries for ever for example due to sea level rise while others are dying from climate change-driven floods and landslides or drought-caused hunger.

“We need to tell them these things are happening in their quest to make money from their industries, for example, but also ask them if their conscience allows them to continue making that money at the expense of people’s lives,” he said.

Addressing the meeting earlier in the presence of Uganda’s Environment and Water Minister Flavia Munaaba, he said:
“In Seychelles they start learning about environmental conservation and climate change at crèche level,” adding that Seychelles is quite advanced in climate change awareness at the national level, pleasantly surprising delegates of previous meetings held here.

The journalists learned how to present the climate change topic in a way that cuts out the technical jargon that goes with the scientific subject so that readers can better understand newspaper articles.

The message of climate change impacts is being driven home to the media people through visits and slides where they are seeing mountains like the Rwenzori range that previously had ice-caps that are now bare, and the shores of Lake Victoria where the water has receded so far that farmers are now getting many acres of extra land.

“The farmers may be happy to get more land and villagers do not mind the extra water flowing down rivers as the ice melts, but dire long term effects will follow these short-term gains,” trainers told the journalists.

The media people have been told to look beyond weather predictions and write about the effects, with examples where women whose farms have become unproductive due to floods or drought have sought lifts from HIV-positive long distance truck drivers to go work in other parts of their countries only to end up being infected with Aids.

The Uganda meeting was funded by Comesa with the support of the department of international development of the UK and the Norwegian Grant.