By Enoch Sithole

Travelling across Africa brings out the reality that the continent is not homogenous, requiring a wide range of solutions, according to China Global South Project (CGSP) climate editor, Njenga Ndekere.

Ndekere was speaking at the 19th African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC), in Johannesburg, presenting the CGSP’s Amplify African Voices (AVV) initiative in climate discourses on the continent.

Damian Patkowski via Unsplash.

The AVV initiative, he said, aims to create a “platform where every African voice is heard and where everyone is welcome at the decision-making table in the climate change discourse”.

Climate change discourses in the media and other circles was dominated by voices from the Global North, he said, adding that this ignored contexts that were unique to Africa or the different regions and countries.

He said climate change was a global crisis but disproportionately impacting African countries and this necessitated that Africans speak on “their behalf on the world stage” which will take them “a step closer to winning against the decades-long exclusion from policy-making discussions”.

“Living through the devastating and recurring effects of droughts, floods and other extreme weather events, no one else can speak to their issues and offer better solutions than the most affected people.

Through the AVV initiative, “we are challenging the underrepresentation of African voices in global conversations to shape the continent’s future and the survival of its people”.

Also, he argued, “the climate change discourse has taken a tunnel vision approach where what is reported/talked about in one region becomes the representative picture of the continent depending on medium used and the targeted audiences.

“This brings in the danger of relying on a single story where Africa is flattened and the diversity of issues is lost in the ‘one angle story’ approach. By amplifying African voices

in the climate change discourse, we eliminate the danger of seeing Africa as a country and foster a balanced view by offering a cocktail of voices making a case for their experiences and the solutions they bring”.

The initiative, which is already in motion, is be promoted by collaborating with African publishers to expand access to climate change content by publishing stories in country-specific media outlets, he said.

The stories about climate change will be published in different languages that are spoken on the continent, including Portuguese, English, French. Indigenous African languages such as Amharic, Oromia, Swahili and others will be added at a later stage.

The AVV initiative also encourages climate change discussions in local languages in radio stations.

One of the initiative’s modus operandi is to ensure that journalists have access to materials. The CGSP has produced several guides on various topics to assist journalists. “These guides will help the upcoming journalists start on their climate reporting journey by enabling them not only to pick a topic but also access African experts they can speak with on that particular topic,” said Ndekere.

The AVV initiative “will help Africans move from the status quo of lopsided representation to becoming their own mouthpiece in decision-making, adopting practices and changing lives with local solutions”.

He decried that “despite the expansive Chinese activities across the continent, there is limited China knowledge in many African countries. Because China is a big player in many African economies, any climate change conversation would be incomplete without a mention (of China)”.

“As we strive to work with journalists to tell the climate change story, we are also working to increase China knowledge among Africans.”