A collaborative solutions communication platform. by @conserveaction
Solutions platform users collaboratively share adaptations to improve livelihoods & increase coastal Tanzanian's climate change resilience.
We will utilise communications and technology to increase the access to and flow of coastal resilience information among citizens, government, civil society organisations and businesses. A local survey will establish the most critical problems Tanzanian coastal residents citizens are experiencing. Solutions to these problems will be researched, using best practices from citizens, governments, civil society organisations and businesses and will form the basis of the magazine style radio programme, ‘Tunza Kwa Faida’. This one-hour show will be broadcast during evening prime time, on local radio stations. It will feature recorded interviews with residents suffering from a climate change related problem, which describe how this has negatively impacted their lives. Subsequent interviews with other residents, local projects and relevant businesses provide ecologically sound solutions and adaptations to this problem. Expert advice is also included, to verify the solution. Listeners are encouraged to contact us. Their questions are answered in the following week’s episode. We will increase the availability of the platform by sending additional information via SMS messages to those who have contacted us, mapping the feedback received online and providing podcasts for downloading.
We will work in partnership with as many organisations as possible that can support the programme in a variety of ways, from delivering training, directly supplying products, facilitating information distribution, offering micro-credit loans and business education services. Partners will provide solutions content for the programme, expert advice and also evidence of beneficiaries adopting the solutions. We will periodically instruct an independent organisation to conduct surveys to establish the increase in livelihood assets and climate change resilience from the baseline assessment.
Category of the action
Communicating Coastal Risk and Resiliency
What actions do you propose?
We will create the interactive solutions platform tailored to communicating climate change risks to coastal communities.
The main mass communication arm of the platform will be magazine style radio programmes. The UN Communications Strategy for 2013-2015 states that 'Radio is the most powerful, with the widest outreach possibilities and most democratic in terms of providing information to all social groups despite different literacy levels, languages spoken and social status. It is the medium of choice for reaching the rural areas where the majority of Tanzanians live.' (1)
Recent studies by Murthy 2011, support this statement, as '85% of Tanzanians said they get news and information from radio, making it the leader among both media and non‐media sources. Radio is thus the most consistently available media in Tanzania – and any communication strategy to any segment of the population must feature radio dissemination prominently.' (2) This is partly to due with restrictions on other forms of media, as 'only people with higher incomes get information from television regularly and newspapers rank at the bottom of sources of news and information used regularly by Tanzanians, mainly due to poor circulation'. (2) Our own tacit knowledge confirms this research, as rural populations do not have funds to purchase TV's or newspapers, limited electrification further hampers televisual communication abilities, whereas poor distribution and literacy levels reduce written communication impacts.
We have already aired our pilot radio programmes called 'Tunza Kwa Faida' (Benefits for all), which validated our interactive solutions platform concept and refined our processes to deliver results. We formed relationships with service providers and content contributors from a variety of sectors. We partnered with the national radio station, Tanzania Broadcast Corporation (TBC FM) to air our programmes for free and Radio France International (RFI Kiswahili) as mentors and studio suppliers. We also formed agreements with two microfinance organisations, Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) and Youth Self-Employment Foundation (YOSEFO) who supported our listeners if they required a small loan to be able to begin to adopt the solutions presented in the programme. A business education service provided by Business for All was also endorsed, which assisted listeners in acquiring financial knowledge through text messages.
We used our network of contacts and research skills to contact individuals, solutions providers and experts. These came from local communities, private sector businesses, government departmental projects, non-governmental organisations and research institutions. Our broadcast journalist was able to contact local citizens who had already expressed issues to our organisation regarding climate change. These people featured in one of our episodes where they described how changes in the weather had negatively affected agricultural production levels and revealed the secondary issues this causes, such as an increase in alcohol consumption by male members of the community, an increase in divorce rates and also the reduced ability of farmers to be able to afford to send their children to school. Our other episodes dealt with freshwater problems, human-wildlife conflict and alternative energy sources.
We successfully delivered a series of high quality compelling radio programmes, all in Kiswahili, that stimulated a positive response from our listeners, of which there were around nine million across the whole of Tanzania. This feedback was answered in the following week's episode and published the information on our online mapping tool. We have used these data to engage with organisations and businesses to address the problems raised. We were able to then create a package where potential partners could use the platform for advertising, PR and marketing data purposes, which would significantly contribute to their sales, strategy and customer loyalty.
We are confident that our platform provides a viable and useful communication tool to our beneficiaries, irrespective of gender, ability, age or ethnicity. We have demonstrated our skills and subsequently fundraised to be able to build our own recording facilities. We have been able to hire out the studio to advertising agencies and private individuals for voice recording, which covers our core running costs.
Our barrier to full time production is one of capacity - purely financial. We need to produce the platform on a regular basis and build a loyal audience that is actively engaged and proven to adopt our solutions. We are currently seeking funding from donors and the private sector to be able to launch our platform and drive change from the bottom-up. Once we have gained our listener's support and commitment, we can sell our advertising, PR and marketing package to secure long-term funding from commerical sponsorship. Other projects such as those produced by Farm Radio Africa and BBC Media Action have the financial support but they either focus on grass root development or policy change, we provide a unqiue collaborative approach involving direct action from partners to solve problems collectively with communities.
Our actions step by step are:
1. We will collect data from local coastal communities and organisations that have already conducted research on climate change problems and solutions in Tanzania.
2. We will select the most severe and common problems the coastal communities have voiced, that through communicating behavioural changes and providing supporting products and services we can most easily resolve and produce the biggest impacts.
3. We will research the solutions to the common problems and form relationships with solution providers from a variety of sources, including government departments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and local communities. We will use our network to connect with these sectors, including our membership of the climate change forum in Tanzania (IPCC), the local focal point for the IPCC, community radio stations, journalist clubs and business forums. Our survey results, existing data from our pilot episodes and potential to improve their organisation, department or business will enable us to agree new partnerships.
4. We will create radio programmes that will encourage listeners to adopt climate change adaptation solutions that are relevant, replicable and proven to be successful. Our content will bring people together across a virtual space. We will remove any barriers and present the economic benefits of the solutions in an engaging format. We will motivate a public, private and group commitment to improving resilience and adopting sustainable behaviours in the long-term. We will build trust and connect with our audience by communicating compelling risk and resilience information in a format that involves citizens and all sectors of society, leading to an increased quality of life. This will lead people into taking action through social and economic drivers.
5. We will ask for feedback from the radio programme to be sent to our organisation for analysis and publication via our online mapping tool.
6. We will use the feedback data we have collected from the radio programmes to inform our partners so they can address and support the solutions through creating a do-it-yourself ethos for communities, policy changes, project opportunities for civil societies and prospects for private sector investments. We will monitor their progress and produce reports on their success in addressing the problems raised by the local communities. We will distribute these online and directly to partners to increase best practice knowledge sharing and collaboration amongst the partners. We will also report back to the local communities through subsequent radio programmes.
8. We will re-survey communities to establish the success of the platform, the effectiveness of the solutions, the improvements to livelihoods and to record any new problems that need to be resolved. We will also identify those who have adopted the climate change adaptations and solutions and are key influencers for others to emulate and learn from within communities.
9. We will use the early adopters/influencers to encourage others to adopt solutions by sending supporting SMS messages and participation in community based meetings and events. We will also recognise their efforts in subsequent radio broadcasts.
10. We will continue to evolve and use continuous learning practices to develop our platform further using available knowledge and technologies. Our programmes will be available as podcasts for listeners to download and on online radio stations which will increase in popularity as internet access improves. We will promote our work and solutions through social media and incoporate new communications tools as they become relevant to our stakeholders.
11. We will develop long-term strategies to automate and expand our platforms capability in delivering tailored information to beneficiaries. This could include weather warning alerts, policy and law changes and other announcements. We will incorporate digital technologies as and when they become more accessible to our beneficiaries.
Our focus is on benefiting the coastal communities with risk and resilience information in the most effective manner. As the price of smart phones decreases and internet access increases we can consider app based versions of the platform. However, this must be linked with a charging solution such as Juabar's projects. They are an NGO that delivers solar powered mobile phone charging stations.
By identifying the critical issues faced by local coastal communities and using best practice solutions from our partners we can provide a collective and collaborative way to encourage the evolution of behavioural norms.These will be the drivers that we use to focus our communications service and also form our basis for indicators to assess how well the adaptations are being adopted by citizens, met by our partners solutions and leading to a better quality of life.
Until these are identified by local communities and prioritised we cannot specifically describe the physical actions that will enable communities to be better prepared for climate change and also reduce current negative impacts caused by climate change. However, as these will be actions that are already proven successful we can give examples. The recently completed PWANI project (3) was a collaboration between USAID the Tanzanian government and other partners. They implemented livelihood asset increasing activities, rain-harvesting in public facilities, tree nurseries and reforestation projects. The Tanzanian Meterological Agency (4) has conducted education and training projects to advise coastal farmers on how to adapt to changes in water salinity. CORDIO East Africa (5) are developing a coastal climate adaptation plan that will include actions to be taken before, during and after a climatic event. Currently these projects are either localised to one area, infrequent, do not involve a collaboration between all stakeholders, not interactive and some have ceased to operate. We wish to overcome these issues by utilising the best practices from these types of projects and ensure that a combined and comprehensive knowledge platform accurately prepares and addresses current climate change problems and increases resilience throughout all coastal communities of Tanzania. This is then replicable to other coastal communities in developing countries around the world.
Who will take these actions?
Our organisation will conduct the initial survey, using partner organisation data and methods if necessary. We will research the best practices to communicate as solutions. We will identify the specific key actors needed to provide these solutions and form partnerships with government departments that are already implementing successful adaptation projects, civil society organisations that can provide expertise, training and guidance on actions that the communities can adopt or businesses that can provide sustainable products or services to alleviate the problems.
We will create the radio programme using our own recording studios and broadcast them using our partner, a national radio station. We will also form partnerships with local coastal community radio stations for broadcasting using their services.
We will include the beneficiaries of government departments, businesses and non-governmental organisations in the radio programmes. We will ask for feedback from our audience, to adopt our solutions and provide their own resilience adaptations.
We will collate and publish the feedback from the radio programmes online and in reports using free software service providers. We will monitor our partners delivery of the solutions discussed in each programme on a regular basis through meetings and progress reports.
We will use the feedback to identify early adopters, who can assist in driving adaptations by attending community meetings and communication the solutions through their networks. These early adopters will be supported through an additional text messaging service.
Finally we will measure the effectiveness of the communications by repeating the questionnaire. This will identify the improved level of resilience within coastal communities, the number of people adopting the solutions, a reduction in the risks and problems communities face due to climate change as well as any livelihood improvements.
What are other key benefits?
Our aim is to ensure each adaptation presented in the radio programme reduces coastal communities vulnerability to climate change, is environmentally friendly and livelihood asset increasing. Our initial survey will determine baseline levels to measure the benefits to the quality of life coastal Tanzanian residents and their current level of resilience to climate change. A re-survey post project will measure the outcomes of any associated increases in food security and physical, financial, social and human assets, environmental benefits as well as any increase in resilience.
The platform will also create a new type of group of partnerships and collaborators, where every stakeholder is a knowledgeable contributor and supporter of a variety of adaptation solutions. They will realise and captialise on the benefits to their lives as individuals, communities, projects or businesses.This win-win-win incentive will drive the commitment to achieving a sustainable, climate resilient society.
What are the proposal’s costs?
The project will form part of the solutions platform that aims to be self-funding within three years. Initial costs are $4000 per radio programme, which would allow a one hour radio programme to be created and aired once per week during prime time, with a repeat during prime time the same week. This will also cover the other elements of the platform, including the feedback mapping, production of reports, SMS supporting messages to early adopters etc. If local community radio stations request an additional airtime fee for regional broadcasting this will be added to the $4000 projected cost, although we do not expect for this to be substantial.
The founding organisation will cover basic core running costs and additional funding or commercial sponsorship will be sourced to reduce this figure. An initial stage of hybrid funding from donors and the private sector will enable the solutions platform to grow to a stage where corporate sponsorship will provide 100% of funding.
In the short term the actions will be focused on the collection and resolving of problems through the assessment of vulnerability to climate change. The most pressing issues identified by coastal communities will be addressed through the solutions platform, radio programme and by working with partners from the government, civil society organisations, private sector and the communities themselves. They will be able to know where, when, how and why the problems exist and work together to alleviate the situations through the platform's communication vehicles such as SMS. The actions will be phased in throughout communities via early users and adopters of the platform's solutions and influential community champions who will encourage others to reap the same benefits and participate in building resilience.
This will evolve to a crowd sourced collaboration, where information is gathered organically by the users and resolved through the platform and the community of stakeholders. It will adopt new technologies to be able to automatically recognise problems and present solutions, as well as recording the level of adoption and improvements to coastal communities' resilience and benefits. The platform will naturally evolve and provide solutions and benefits to users based on their preferences and livelihoods.
In the long-term resilience knowledge and supporting products and services will be the norm. Government, the private sector and communities will access the data to design and create their own resilience strategies that provide the largest return on investment to livelihoods, businesses and the environment combined.
1. Stories from the Coast. This proposal uses stories and a communications philosophy similar to our proposal. We may feature stories and songs in our radio programmes that convey solutions, however this proposal primarily uses media that Tanzanian coastal communities cannot access nor understand unless it was in Kiswahili or a local dialect.
The other proposals used technologies that were too advanced for effective adaptation and increased resilience for local Tanzanian communities. The practical solutions are there, they just are not effectively communicated, on a regular basis, from one central organisation, that can answer questions and provide verified, successful solutions from a variety of sources.
We want to provide that service.
1. UN Communications Strategy Task Force 2012 UN Communications Straetgy 2013-2015 United Nations Tanzania Delivering as One published onlinehttp://www.undg.org/docs/13299/UN%20Tanzania%20Communications%20Strategy.pdf
accessed on 18/07/2014.
2. Murthy, G. 2011 AudienceScapes Development Research Report, Tanzania Media Environment, Current Access, Potential for Growth and Strategies for Information Dissemination. Intermedia.
3. PWANI http://www.crc.uri.edu/projects_page/conservation-of-coastal-eco-systems-in-tanzania-the-pwani-project/ accessed on 18/07/2014
4. Author's personal research with coastal communities during 2012.
5. CORDIO East Africahttp://www.africa-adapt.net/projects/191accessed on 18/07/2014.