Telling the story is essential for raising awareness on environmental concerns; thus, journalists and media professionals are integral in inspiring a global effort to end the imminent challenges our planet faces today.
By Uzman Unis Bah
GLF training 2021– as the African dryland issue continues to pose a threat to the farming sector, stalling the progress of achieving SDG zero hunger and the elimination of poverty; the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) organises training that reveals reporting skills for journalists in helping raise the awareness and inspiring a global call to help address the crisis.
The GLF training lasted for three days, imparting knowledge to over 40 professional and fledgling journalists in the African continent. The experts shared vital storytelling skills, sharing knowledge and deepening the insight into the looming environmental issues affecting the continent. According to Susanne Wallenöffer, the head Forests4Future, although this is a virtual engagement, it points out the scale at which land damage is taking place and at the same time highlighting the continent’s potential in tackle the problem.
Susanne says the role of the media is to continue raising awareness on the topic and the importance of restoring forests and despoiled lands in the continent, inspiring political actions, reporting and setting the agenda for broader deliberations. “The other point is to simply raise awareness among the communities and the general public on the potential that restoring degraded lands and forests has fought for everyone.” She said.
The journalists and media specialists are pivotal in telling the stories of affected communities from the most affected to the least affected places of our globe. In raising awareness and stirring aspirations for a lasting solution, the media and journalists play are pivotal. Susanne hailed the Global Landscapes Forum, climate track and partners for hosting such media training.
Storytelling is vital in promoting awareness of the situations affecting people and their livelihood and the environmental danger our society is currently facing. The press and the drivers of conservation stories are crucial in casting light on the signs the planet is witnessing.
“It’s been estimated that there’s potential to generate $2 trillion globally from Sustainable Agriculture and forest protection.” Jonathan Davies, Global Agriculture Programme Lead at International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Jonathan said.
In giving an overview of dry land in Africa, Peter Minang, a Principal Scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), said land degradation is the deterioration or loss of productive capacity of soils. Peter asserts that land degradation is often resulting in desertification and primarily importing desertification in drylands.
Most of our forest areas are dry ecosystems that are also important and needed for growing several crops that mostly do well in drier areas, like cotton, so it good to be aware of these facts; Peter clarifies.
Africa is vulnerable to land degradation; millions of hectares are affected, close to 500 million hectares; desertification affects around 45% of Africa’s land area, where there is 55% high risk for further degradation; a study in 2016 estimates that the annual losses in land degradation in Africa, especially in Agriculture, accrue losses of billion Euros, he explains.
According to Peter, population increase, poverty, and a host of other issues contribute to the land loss, but the most dynamic causes are poor governance, poor policy enforcement and lack of investments in land management.
Salima Mahamoudou, a Research Associate at World Resources Institute (WRI), said, often, when we hear of land degradation in Africa, our mind run to pictures of cracked and broken soil, but the fact is, degradation doesn’t necessarily need to be to the extreme, where you will witness the physical markers.
According to Salima, while reporting dryland stories, it is good to consider the common environmental impacts, but it is worth noting that some of the dryland impacts might not be as visible as others.
There is a great potential to store carbon in the soil, arousing interest in developing land carbon sinks, which will benefit the African continent. The opportunity will bring immense possibilities for land use and proper land regime systems in Africa, stated Jonathan.
Birguy Lamizana Diallo, Senior Project Officer, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said desertification is growing; it is noticeable at the environmental level, but predominantly in the social sector, leading to disputes and migrations, economic losses that hugely affect the livelihood of women and youth in the rural communities.
Desertification is land degeneration in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas emanating from many factors, including climatic shifts and human activities. It leads to a reduction in crop yields and minimises the resilience of agricultural and pastoral systems – key livelihood pillars in Africa. According to the policy brief of the African Group of Negotiators experts Support.
Our food heroes, the farmers who toil, breaking backs to achieve food security, in the face of all hurdles, are the most challenged when it comes to desertification and the altering of the landmass, either by climate change or natural emergencies. Issues that impact our planet need coverage, but to tell stories that will help raise awareness and inspiring solutions, journalists’ need to be equipped to better understanding the issues for better reportage.