MANY people talk about the need to add value in whatever work they do. Value-addition transforms dire situations into productive and sustainable ones, especially where value chain approaches are used. These include ways stakeholders communicate climate information to improve the way it is understood and utilised. Climate information providers should not just communicate critical information anyhow, but it should add value and transform lives. Therefore, it should not just be the dissemination of whatever climate change information, but that kind of information that is useful in people’s lives.
Communicating climate change information enhances decisions that are people-centred and increases resilience. As this is done, communities would be better prepared and positioned to manage the impacts of climate change and weather extremes. In this regard, it has been proved to be problematic on how stakeholders use climate information value chains to influence decision-making. There is need for climate information to be context-specific, generated and influenced by weather and climate data. This will in turn, improve decision-making and add value in terms of learning, training, preparedness and protection to climate change effects.
Climate information value chains should stand to benefit stakeholders and target situations in best possible ways, just as the processes and frameworks suggest. Each stage of the information value chain is fundamental, life-saving and transformative, hence it should be taken seriously. In this view, collaborative and collective efforts are required to get things done and benefit the target audiences to realise resilience.
Climate information value chains need to take a multi-stakeholder approach, which is an inclusive and interactive approach designed not to leave anyone behind. The way weather forecasts are communicated should add value to farmers, travellers, workers and any other concerned citizens. How disasters are approaching should be able to be accessed by the peripheral communities in order for them to decide and prepare. Natural disasters and cyclones strike people in their sleep or indoors as a result of their own lack of preparedness and denial, not because communicating climate information value chains would have gone wrong somewhere in the process.
Beneficiaries of this kind of information should be initiated into sustainable engagements, interactive and participatory pathways, good enough to guarantee them forms of feedback according to their target needs. For these to succeed, climate information providers are required to demonstrate a good understanding of the target audiences, situations and their needs from a cross-section point of view. The context and scope of climate information value chains may not be transformative enough if they become prescriptive, rather than being exploratory, sufficiently collaborative and engaging in nature. These approaches would empower stakeholders to solve specific information needs inherent in a changing climate. Beneficiaries are the most important stakeholders, first and foremost, therefore, they need to be the focal point, in order to become part and parcel of the whole discourse. Challenges of being ill-equipped to handle climate impacts and low adaptive capacities are associated with the target audiences, their situations and needs. In this regard, their target needs are not necessarily their wants, but their necessities, which should be taken seriously.
Climate information value chains should strategically feed into sustainable decisions that are aimed at especially improving food security and environmental sustainability.
Furthermore, the information should assist in improving water management strategies, reduce crop losses (especially post-harvest losses), forests conservation, wild-life conservation, energy and power conservation and improved quality of the people’s health as well as that of the livestock, among a host of many. For these reasons, the target situations should be strategically positioned to access valuable climate information services they need to improve their livelihoods.
It is also significant that, climate information value chains should help to fill in procedural, knowledge and information gaps among target audiences and stakeholders. These beneficiaries of climate change value chains are also required to participate in building their capacities and transform their lives, as target audiences who need the climate information value chains, more than anyone else.
The success of the climate information services and value chains is strongly influenced by the appropriate communication tools and channels used by the information providers.
The communication tools like public engagements, participatory interactions and dialoguing as well as community radios, mobile phones, printed materials and visuals, are designed to manage challenges of communication breakdown, misinformation and communication massaging. While it is true that there are some communication channels that leave out certain important stakeholders, human-centred efforts should be harnessed to close these gaps.
In this regard, the environment in which the climate information services are disseminated should be highly conducive, appealing and supportive in nature, in order to make public engagements possible. Between the climate information providers and the target audiences, there are influencers who are politicians, religious leaders, traditional leaders and professionals, who need to be involved, not because they either know or they don’t but because they are opinion leaders with influence. These are key actors in information value chains and they assist in instilling order and discipline in these critical interactive engagements. They can operate positively or negatively depending on the situation at hand not forgetting their ideologies, stand points and world-views.
The positive working environment would stimulate policy and regulation improvements, including political will to get things done. Cultural norms are also critical and informative because they influence the people’s behaviours and world-views.
In this regard, it is also important to let beneficiaries see why they should benefit from climate information value chains and also why they need to change their behavioural tendencies, instead of how they should change their behaviours in the first place. In the eyes of the beneficiaries, the providers of climate information value chains should be knowledgeable, trustworthy, credible and competent rather than otherwise doubting Thomas’s. It is also important that the stakeholders are not short-changed in terms of knowledge capacities, training and orientation.
The resources should also not only be available, but permitting to move the information value chains forward. This include whether the resources are being handled appropriately or not and are they reaching the intended beneficiaries or not.
The target audiences should not only be recipients of climate information value chains, but above all, they need to show hunger for these information services.
In this regard they should always go out of their ways to look for information services rather than wait as passive recipients. In attempts to make the climate information value chains accessible to everyone concerned, the information need to be disseminated in the languages that they understand best.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org