Patrick Luganda – Supporting Africa’s Agriculture with Climate News

April 21, 2011
“Communicating climate change presents us with a fundamental challenge,” says Patrick Luganda, who, as a farmer and a journalist, has seen first-hand the importance of climate information, particularly for those who depend on agriculture for their livelihood.

Luganda is Chairman of the Network of Climate Journalists in the Greater Horn of Africa (NECJOGHA), one of several regional networks of journalists covering environmental issues worldwide that partners with Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

Making climate information accessible – through local languages, distilled jargon, and accessible media – is critical, says Luganda. “Telling the climate change story, its causes and effects, and the ways in which we can contribute in the fight against it, remains a difficult task for any party involved, including the scientific community, governments, the media and NGOs,” says Luganda.

One example of Luganda’s work was a project in rural Uganda, where seasonal weather forecasts from the Department of Meteorology – critical information for farmers who need to know about delays in the rainy season, or trends over time that shorten the growing season, for example – were issued in English and peppered with scientific jargon. Luganda’s project not only translated the forecasts into the local Luganda language, but also conducted extensive interviews with farmers in the area to create matching terminology. The team then developed radio messages that were directly relevant to the farmer’s lives.

Luganda is a frequent speaker at regional and international conferences concerning climate and communication, and has authored several papers on climate, the media and society. He trains and mentors journalists in reporting on climate and agriculture issues. Luganda was awarded the A.H. Boerma award for excellence in agricultural reporting conferred by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome (1998-1999). He farms on the banks of River Sezibwa in Uganda.