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Media Challenge Participants Call for Collective Effort Against Climate Change

Written by: 
Nelson Ruto Rotino

The recently concluded inter-university Media Challenge highlighted resolve for general cooperation to counter climate change.

The annual expo was launched on November 1, 2019 at Xanadu Collections under the theme 'Climate change and disaster risk reduction'. It hosted several representatives of government, the private sector, the media and media hopefuls. Questions were raised by the panel and during breakaway sessions over who is to blame for the frustrated efforts at combating climate change as well as management of disasters.

Michael Wambi, a journalist and producer with Uganda Radio Network stated severally that government was not doing enough especially in regards to countering disasters and following up on the victim's physical as well as psychological welfare.

Cited elsewhere are the controversial 2009 and 2015 'Kaveera' bans that have registered very little success despite that seen in Kenya and Rwanda who attempted the same. In addition to this, an estimated 200,000 hectares of forest loss is recorded annually according to a study conducted by the African Natural Resources Institute last year, despite the launch of an Environmental Police Unit in 2011.

Moses Watasa, the Commissioner Information, Dissemination, Monitoring and Inspection in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM), said that government has been attempting to negotiate a deal that would slowly phase out the 'Kaveera', for starters, as a follow-up of the ban. Julius Mucunguzi, communications advisor at OPM, in response to the claims also said that the effort of government in remedying the situation for disaster victims and prevention of the same have been immense especially in Bududa. He stated that there was a relocation endeavour to Kiryandongo that is still ongoing in addition to provision of relief for victims. A partnership between government and the private sector also sufficed, according to him, for the construction of over 100 shelters for the survivors.

Journalism and Communication Professor Goretti Nansanga, who delivered a key note address also indicated that, "the media have not played their watchdog role in holding government to account" and this is why certain initiatives are all but successful.

Rebecca Nabatanzi, a representative of the Office of the Prime Minister responded to all this by stating that, "government has placed and enabling framework and it is now the responsibility of the media, private sector and individuals" to champion the cause. She further stated that the fight against climate change hasn't recorded many milestones because individuals lay all responsibility and in event of a shortcoming, blame, on either party yet mitigation can only be attained through a concerted effort.

The Media Challenge expo is in its eighth edition and seeks to create journalists that are solutions-based in their work as opposed to the usual reporting of events. Students from 12 universities competed this year in several aspects of journalism such as anchoring and reporting for opportunities at a training fellowship and placements at media houses. An award ceremony for the winners is scheduled for the 24th of this month.