Regional Journalists’ Workshop in Northeast India

   TwitCount

As a part of the communication and outreach component of the Himalayan Climate Change Adaptation Programme (HICAP), ICIMOD and GRID-Arendal held a six-day training workshop for journalists in Tinsukia, Assam from 17 to 22 Feb 2014. The workshop, which was organized in partnership with Aaranyak, a prominent Guwahati-based conservation group involved in scientific research and advocacy and local partner for HICAP, hosted 12 participating journalists from India and Nepal. The journalists were competitively selected via an open call made through ICIMOD’s website and represented radio, print, electronic, and digital media.

The purpose of the workshop was to improve creative thinking and effective communication on adaptation to climate change in a local context. The participating journalists were familiarized with the biophysical features of pilot sites in the eastern Brahmaputra River basin being researched by HICAP.

Over several sessions, two international trainers provided insight into how to communicate climate science to a lay audience. Representatives from ICIMOD and GRID-Arendal briefed the journalists on the HICAP initiative across the region, its research thrust in the eastern Brahmaputra river basin, and key issues related to climate change. A local facilitator-cum-trainer also offered a local perspective on climate change issues specific to the Northeast of India and outlined the challenges that journalists face. Local academicians, government officials, and researchers, presented their views on topics such as the climate change impacts on agriculture, wetlands, forests, and biodiversity. These sessions were underpinned by briefing notes on each component of HICAP – climate change scenarios, water availability and demand scenarios, ecosystem services, food security, vulnerability and adaptation, and gender.

During the workshop, participating journalists visited three sites in Assam – Laopani, Rohmaria, and Maguri Beel – for field reporting. They were accompanied on the visit by the trainers and researchers from Aaranyak, who briefed them on relevant issues and concerns. The journalists identified the following issues during the field visits: problems with floods and river bank erosion; uncertainties surrounding the life and livelihoods of the communities living along the Brahmaputra River; the degradation of farm lands as a result of sand casting; crop failures caused by intermittent dry spells leading to the disruption of farming and migration; and the overall impact of these issues on women and children. 

Training workshops and grant programmes for journalists are a key activity of HICAP. This interface with the media is an ongoing effort to communicate climate science and research effectively and creatively and to generate and sustain public awareness about the gravity of the concerns associated with climate change. It is hoped that such activities will strengthen the science-society interface and enhance our ability to responding to the complex challenges arising from climate change.

The 23 stories by the journalists who participated in the Regional Journalists’ Workshop and 14 stories supported by the HICAP grant programme for journalists are available on ICIMOD’s website.