Communicating dogma in the face of climate change Trees and Alligators of this World, cherish your differences By Minielle TallCertain things in life are obvious. Common symbols we all agree upon. Daylight andNighttime will never get any human being confused about. Water - in its consistency -will rarely be mistaken. And breathing, walking, or eating are likely to be performed thesame technical way whether in Glasgow, Kabul, Perth, Ndjamena or Santiago.Common sense is innate. But how far shall one possibly go to decide what is commonsense? Have you ever been for instance in some parts of Turkey where apparently inorder to say “yes”, one has to shake his head from left to right (and not up and down). Ormaybe to Senegal where after a great meal, burbling soundly means that you are praisingthe cook.Undoubtedly, cultural coding makes us who we are. Thus, by communicating with others,we have to make sure that this internal code will cohabits appropriately with the externalmessages that we convey.To cut it short, in order to set effective communication processes, chances are that wehave to develop the ethnographic and anthropological parts of our own selves. Theobjective being not to pass the message to others at any cost. But rather to ensurethat it will have the same reasoning and values as the one we, as the sender, areconsidering it has.Talking about communicating adaptation strategies in the context of Climate change, Iwas fascinated to see how things, in West Africa, went from “We, the Scientists, aretalking. Please, remain quiet and learn” to “We, the Scientists, are here to learn fromfarmers and exchange experiences”. Humility? Well, I guess so. But this noble behaviordid not come alone.Actually, it took several failed missions, for many to realize that communication wasinvolving different layers.As communicators, we surely know better. And if we want to build trust that will bestrong enough to convince a majority of stakeholders and ignite changes, we have to takeenough time to get to know ourselves (the team we are in) and them (the audience) betterso that our strategy will lay on solid grounds and not only on common sense.Sustainable development will never be sustainable enough if we set standards andrules that are relevant only for those who came up with them.As a popular African saying states “a tree long stayed in the river never becomes analligator”. This reasonably means that we need to agree on the fact that some of us areTrees and others are not.
The point is certainly not to determine who is BEST or how shall one “educate” or“convert” the other. But rather to acknowledge that we all are DIFFERENT and the waywe learn from each other is no exception.So do we really want to standardize thoughts and ideas just to feel more comfortable orshall we look at the differences and complexities which, once understood and takenadvantages of, will make us more complete?!When it comes to climate change adaptation strategies in West Africa, common sensestrikes again and may drive us to set the usual clichés. It is then our responsibility, whenappraising action plans and messages not to create barriers… that we will be the only onenot to see.Dogma usually starts this way.------------------------About the authorMinielle Tall has been a communication for development consultant for more than tenyear. Since 2009, she is focusing on Rural development and Climate Change AdaptationStrategies in rural and urban regions in West Africa.Her references in this area include regional or continental programmes such as CCAA(DFID-IDRC), ACCC (UNESCO-UNDP), PRCM (UICN-WWF-FIBA) or CCAFS(CGIAR).email@example.com
Communication & Social Learning: The West African perspective By Minielle Tall and …I have never read Paulo Freire internationally acclaimed Pedagogy of the Oppressed …But I believe in his concept of Conscientization which is, to me, the laying ground ofsocial learning.Some people might in fact be quick learner while with others, magic will take more timeto operate. Not specifically because they are “dummies” (well at least let’s give them achance to prove us wrong!).But mainly because their learning stages are different from yours or mine, does not implythat he or she has to follow and obey the “common sense” rules.About authors:Minielle Tall is a communication consultant with ….firstname.lastname@example.org