Blane Harvey: Community radio, action research and advocacy for climate justice: lessons learned from Ghana
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Blane Harvey: Community radio, action research and advocacy for climate justice: lessons learned from Ghana






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  • ''The historical philosophy of community radio is to use this medium as the voice of the voiceless, the mouthpiece of oppressed people (be it on radial, gender, or class grounds) and generally as a tool for development. (…) It should be made clear that community radio is not about doing something for the community but about the community doing something for itself, ie. owning and controlling its own means of communication.'' "What is Community Radio? A resource guide". AMARC Africa and Panos Southern Africa. 1998

Blane Harvey: Community radio, action research and advocacy for climate justice: lessons learned from Ghana Blane Harvey: Community radio, action research and advocacy for climate justice: lessons learned from Ghana Presentation Transcript

  • Community Radio, Action Research and Advocacy for Climate Justice Lessons emerging from Ghana Dr. Blane Harvey Research Fellow, Climate Change and Development
  • Outline
    • Context:
      • Climate change in Ghana
      • Failure to engage with the local
      • The role and potential of community radio
      • The community radio and action research
    • The Initiative:
      • Aims and Partnership
      • Methodology
      • Results to date
    • Conclusions and lessons for action research and climate justice
  • Context
  • Climate change in Ghana
    • Ghana:
      • Vulnerable to water-stress, land degradation, and coastal zone erosion
      • Expected to drops in agricultural productivity, power shortages and loss of key coastal land
      • Possible internal (north-to-south) and cross-border migration and conflict
    • Increased investment in research and programming in recent years: Why so little impact among the most vulnerable?
    Sources: Dazé 2007; McSweeney, New and Lizcano 2008; BBC World Service Trust 2009
  • Engaging with the local
    • Growing recognition of the centrality of local culture and knowledge, but
    • Limited uptake of research and engagement at local scales attributed to:
      • challenges of appropriately communicating scientific research
      • failure to meaningfully engage with local institutions or local cultural practices
      • Failure to overcome barriers presented by technology, language, power, among vulnerable communities.
    • Not spanning the “last mile” of engagement = not communicating knowledge, and not hearing demands.
    Sources: Gauthier 2005; Agrawal and Perrin 2009; Berkes, Colding et al. 2000; Ensor and Berger 2009
  • The role and potential of community radio
    • Radio is the dominant mass-medium in Africa with the widest reach and highest audiences – particularly among rural, poorer, or less literate groups.
    • Potentially effective in behavioural change and in providing a platform for citizens’ voice
    • Community radio still emergent in much of Africa and with uneven existing capacity
    • Current top-down programming doesn’t seize on radio’s potential to strengthen voice and challenge socio-political power structures.
  • Community radio and action research?
    • Community radio ambitions:
      • “ ensur[ing] that listening communities are not only consumers of information, however rich and appropriate. Rather, [...] to enable the listening communities, especially the most disadvantaged groups, to upload and grow their own knowledge" (Quarmyne)
    • “ If you choose to regard your subjects as self-directing agents, whose creative thinking determines their actions, then you cannot do research on them or about them, but only with them.” (Heron 1996)
  • Communicating within communities: research, forecasts, local knowledge, adaptation strategies, etc. Communicating local knowledge, needs and demands beyond the community Community Radio Intervention
  • The Initiative
  • Climate Airwaves
    • Pilot methodology for strengthening community radio stations’ capacity to engage in action research and advocacy on climate change.
    • Ultimately seeks to strengthen community knowledge and voice on climate change impacts and adaptation by increasing their engagement with research and policy agendas and sharing their experience and knowledge.
  • The partnership
    • Designed to address the multi-level dynamics of climate change (drivers, policy and impacts)
    • 3 Ghanaian Stations participating:
      • Radio Ada , Radio Afram Plains and Radio Tongu
      • All on the Volta and facing many similar challenges
    • Ghana Community Radio Network
    • AfricaAdapt Knowledge Sharing Network
    • AMARC
    • IDS
  • Methodology
    • “ Action research on action research”
      • Participants will assess the impact and value of the initiative with the community
    • Strengthening broadcasters’ capacity to understand, investigate, and advocate on climate change by drawing on existing networks and local knowledge.
      • Capacity building on climate and action research
      • Engagement with researchers, community, and duty bearers
      • Taking findings and demands beyond the local
  • Outcomes to date
    • Growing understanding of the current and projected impacts of climate change locally and their link to existing vulnerability
    • Growing awareness of the complexity and global dimensions climate change
      • Connecting global drivers to local impacts
    • Increased capacity and interest to explore the issue within their communities
      • Mapping actors; developing vocabulary; identifying priority issues
  • Conclusions and lessons learned to date
  • Conclusions
    • This won’t work with all stations
    • Complexity and uncertainty of the challenge remain hurdles
      • Lack of local expertise; lack of formal education
      • Conflation of CC with environmental degradation; ozone depletion
    • Partnerships cannot be one-off or short-term
      • Not a development “project”
  • Conclusions cont.
    • Rights and justice is an entry point and organic fit for many community radio stations
    • Capacity building must be embedded in a longer term shared vision of social change
      • Developing stronger networks
      • Looking for multiple benefits
  • Thank you! [email_address]