The Rwanda Meteorology Agency (Meteo Rwanda) and the Media High Council have concluded a two day training with media houses on how to communicate weather and climate uncertainties. The workshop was attended by 45 journalists from local broadcasting, online and print media houses.
The workshop was funded by the HIGH impact Weather lAke sYstem (HIGHWAY) project which addresses the need for improved and accurate early warning systems, co-produced by scientists and users, to prevent loss of life and damage due to severe weather such as convection, strong winds and lightning.
The HIGHWAY project aims to increase the use of weather information to improve resilience and reduce the loss of life and damage to property in East Africa, including Rwanda.
Opening the workshop, Anthony Twahirwa, Division Manager of Weather/Climate Services and Applications at Meteo Rwanda said that strong collaboration between Meteo Rwanda and the media is essential in the timely dissemination of weather and climate information. He added that sometimes meteorologists face a challenge of how to communicate scientific information to the community in a language that can be easily understood.
“After we have generated the weather and climate products, there should be an effective channel to communicate this information to users. We believe that the mass media has the critical role to play in timely dissemination of weather and climate information for citizens to take informed decisions but the information should be actionable”, said Anthony Twahirwa.
Rachel Mugabe, in charge of Media Professionalism and Development at Media High Council, commended Meteo Rwanda’s efforts to enhance the media communication of weather and climate information. She said the media are by far the major communication channels through which the public receives the weather information, forecasts and warnings disseminated by Rwanda Meteorology Agency.
“The media is unfamiliar with meteorological jargon, definitions and terminology which are sometimes too technical and unsuitable for public dissemination and understanding thus the need to train non-meteorological broadcasters on basic meteorology,” she said.
Innocent Gasabato, Editor at Flash Radio and TV, said that the workshop enabled him to understand the processes to generate weather and climate forecasts as well as how to interpret them.
The journalists committed to educate citizens on weather and climate services through their media outlets. They also recommended that a forum of journalists who report weather and climate services be established to ease the flow of information in case of a need to disseminate early warning information.
The workshop was concluded by a media tour of the Rwanda Meteorology Agency where journalists were shown the meteorological infrastructure and how weather and climate information is processed and shared.