Op-Ed: Role of Media and Local Communities in Ecosystem Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation in Somalia

Livestock herding is a dominant way of life in many parts of Somalia. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex
Livestock herding is a dominant way of life in many parts of Somalia. Photo by: Sara Jerving / Devex

By:Hussien Mohamed Yusuf

 The recent Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that climate change is real and the IGAD Sub region in the Greater Horn of Africa is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world due to the high degree of vulnerability of the society and the changing patterns of climate extremes such as droughts and floods.

Somalia is one of the Horn of Africa countries with least observational networks.  Reducing the risks associated with the climate extremes over the region has also been poor due to lack of regional / national economic and development policies that directly incorporate issues related to Disaster risk reduction; and climate variability/change in the programmes and general plans of strongly climate sensitive sectors such as agriculture and food security, health, water resources, infrastructure, transport, energy and settlement, among others.

Changing tactics in Adaptation to Climate Change

Perhaps the greatest positive change in the Climate adaptations field over the past years has been the broad recognition of the critical role played by indigenous people and local communities in delivering outcomes through local values, norms, and resource management systems. Mainstream adaptation experts these days give the importance of indigenous and local leadership in climate adaptation issues, it is also envisaged that Media and Civil Society organization can play the same role in dissemination of Information and best practices related with Climate Change adaptation.

In this context, Adaptation needs to truly speak to these social struggles and the views of the indigenous people and other local communities that are increasingly the true Adaptation leaders of our days. Adaptation has to be socially and politically relevant to local communities around the country – from villagers in Mudug to farmers in the agro-pastoral areas of Awdal, to coastal communities in the Western parts of Somaliland and Marka.

Climate adaptation cannot be successful if it continues to be in conflict with those who should be its strongest allies. Greater investments should be made in supporting efforts to secure indigenous peoples and local communities to have access to information with the close collaboration of Civil Society organizations and Media houses.

This all provides an excellent opportunity to redefine the profile of adaptation strategy, shifting towards a more diverse profile of the people who are living and working on the front lines each day, in their community or country. They are the true environmentalists, regardless of education level and gender.

Changing Human Behavior

Success or failure in climate Adaptation depends predominantly on changing human behavior – getting individuals, communities, businesses, and governments to alter the status quo. Social change can be difficult and costly, often involving complex collective action and human cooperation. Understanding that Adaptation is a process of social change is crucial to laying the foundation for Adaptation in the twenty-first century. Without such an understanding, it will be impossible to build the skills and networks that are essential to solving complex social and institutional problems.

Adaptation efforts need to tap into the explosion of knowledge around behavioral change and behavioral economics in recent years. This is key to understanding and influencing the behavioral and institutional choices of political decision makers, who often play a critical role in determining adaptation and environmental outcomes.

The COVID-19 crisis also presents an unmatched opportunity to learn about human behavior change on an extraordinary scale. For better or worse, rapid shifts in day-to-day human behavior that would have recently been deemed impossible have now occurred all around the world. As a key lesson from the pandemic is that “we can change much faster than we thought.”

Breaking Down Silos and Scaling Solutions

To address the climate crisis, experts need to move beyond long-outdated yet remarkably resilient disciplinary silos. Adaptation practice should be led by creative and entrepreneurial organizations that are focused on developing and implementing effective solutions to adaptation problems and taking them to scale. We need new and more diverse actors from across different fields to play their role in helping communities to adapt to the changing climate and prepare them to anticipate, absorb and adapt to shocks from the changing climate.

Many NGOs are working from offices and implementing resilience and Climate Change Adaptation programs without the close consultation of the communities at grass root level, who are experts themselves in the areas of Climate change adaptation and have firsthand experiences on how to deal with changing climate.

It should be of paramount Important to work with communities from planning to implementation of the projects so that sustainable and helping solutions are put in place.

Role of Media in awareness Creation on Ecosystem Conservation

Environmental degradation is detrimental and is jeopardizing the long-term health and security of animals, plants and communities, within the Horn of Africa, generally and Somalia specifically adaptation programme implemented in Somalia seek to reduce pastoral and agro-pastoral communities’ vulnerability to climate change induced hazards through campaigns, workshops and trainings aiming at raising stakeholders’ awareness on this issue. The implementation of diverse infrastructures solutions, the adoption of new techniques and the capacity building activities engaged by the projects are projected to have a positive impact, increasing communities’ resilience.  Structured collaboration between the media and NGOs in this area would go a long way in promoting ecosystem awareness and conservation. This explains the need for the media to involve in preparing and producing programs that can change and enhance the understanding of local communities through Radios.

About the Author

Hussien Mohamed Yusuf

Hussien is a Climate Change Adaptation Expert, he can be reached at  hussienm4@gmail.com


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Horndiplomat editorial policy.

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