The key problems that retard the use of climate information and prediction services by the general public have been identified through increased interaction with users in various socio-economic sectors. Too often, the language used is too difficult to understand for most users; outlooks are presented in terms of dense probability jargon; user-specific products are unavailable; products are not accessible in time; and users are not aware of the availability and potential use of the climate products at all.
The Drought Monitoring Centre and the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of the GHA are strengthening collaboration and enhancing interaction between the public and the media to improve the dissemination and application of climate information. Such efforts have led to establishment of the regional Network of Climate Journalists of the Greater Horn of Africa - NECJOGHA.
NECJOGHA was formed in February 2002 at Eldoret, Kenya, during the ninth Climate Outlook Forum (COF9), after a series of discussions between journalists and climate scientists at climate outlook forums and users workshops. The 10 countries comprising NECJOGHA include Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
The objective of the network is to enhance the interaction between climate scientists and journalists and, in so doing, to disseminate climate information in ways that are easily understood by all, including policymakers and the general public in the GHA.
NECJOGHA seeks to promote and coordinate the transmission of climate-related information in the GHA in the most professional manner. It collaborates with National Meteorological Services and other specialised climate institutions of the region in order to synthesize scientific information for different sectors, e.g. health, agriculture, environment, hydrology, power and industry.
It also strives to provide timely climate information to members in the GHA for rapid dissemination to the public. This information originates from National Meteorological Services in each respective country and such specialised agencies as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and Drought Monitoring Centre Nairobi (DMCN).
Climate media associations in each country provide the focal points, which coordinate national activities. NECJOGHA members from these national associations range from practising media professionals to weather/climate experts. A regional resource centre will be built now that a NECJOGHA secretariat has been formed.
The network will also build capacity and create awareness in member countries in the region. It will advise and provide guidance to specialised climate institutions on media matters and the public.
For more information, read The Media, Climate and Society - The African Story, NECJOGHA Chairman Patrick Luganda's white paper on climate journalism and community informatics.