ACCCA experiences: examples of creative approaches for communication

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani 25th March 2011 19:17

Grill sessions

One innovative approach to learning-by-doing was implemented at the training of trainers workshop conducted in Cape Town in 2008 as part of the ACCCA project. The ‘Grill the Climatologist Sessions' involved a process where experts talked through the thought process and rationale used to construct a robust interpretation of climate information and fielded associated questions from the participants. Participants noted these sessions as the most effective learning sessions of the workshop.


ToTal Monthly Precipitation Anomaly, CCE Output

Total Monthly Precipitation Anomaly, CCE Output

An example To communicate uncertainty and confidence, the head of the climate science team in the University of Cape Town (an expert climatologist) was asked to interpret downscaled climate model outputs such as the figure above (output generated with the Climate Change Explorer tool).

The figure above shows mid 21st century expected changes (anomalies) in rainfall across a range of models from the IPCC 4th Assessment Report Model Archive, downscaled to the Bukoba station, located in Northern Tanzania. The discussion emphasized that a careful use of language is required when conveying the value of information presented in the models; namely, what can you say with confidence versus what details you might need to use expert judgement to speculate about, and the pitfalls of over-interpretation.

The interpretation of the above figure in relation to uncertainty and confidence: During April and May, all models indicate an increase in rainfall, which denotes high ‘confidence'. While the range of change may vary (how much rainfall is projected to increase during those months varies significantly between models (5-80mm), they all indicate a wetter April and May. The month of June, on the contrary, appears to be ‘uncertain', with some models indicating an increase and others a decrease in rainfall.

Moreover, understanding of the climatological context of the station is vital to recognize the associated risks. The impact of a 5-80mm change in rainfall needs to be weighed against total rainfall observed during those months. For example, if average rainfall at this station would be hypothetically 1000mm for the months of April and May, a 80mm change would not be significant, but if total rainfall is low, a 80mm change may represent a significant change with implications that need to be considered for adaptation decisions.

These and similar innovative exercises serve to illustrate how to communicate key messages from model data, emphasizing the relevance of model outputs for adaptation planning taking into consideration specific contexts.

Training trainers

Rather than aiming at informing a finite number of individuals directly through the ACCCA project teams, some projects applied a 'training of trainers' approach, so that through a cascading effect on information dissemination could have a much wider reach. These trainers were taught about climate change and relationship with existing community vulnerability, modes of communicating risk, and participatory approaches to community learning.

Case studies that used this approach:

  • The Bangladeshi team produced posters that were discussed with key community representatives, who then distributed the posters in public places (e.g., schools, government buildings, markets and rural shops, etc.) around the project sites.
  • In the Kenyan project, multi-stakeholder working groups were assembled and trained on the links between climate change and malaria incidence. The working groups comprised village-level health promoters, scientists, NGO workers, representatives from health service providers (nurse or clinical officer), and people in the area of health policy (district public health officer). The working group was in charge of disseminating the information they received further.
  • In Malawi, extension workers, Red Cross staff and volunteers were trained in risk communication methods, climate change projections and adaptation strategies. Trained stakeholders supported the development of participatory video making to communicate climate risk.
  • In Ghana, 120 community leaders, traditional leaders and stakeholders from the university and staff of the public health service of the Kwabre district were trained to be trainerson malaria epidemics related to climate change. It was estimated that this workshop would ultimately lead to the training of over 200,000 people in the Kwabre district.

Authors: Tahia Devisscher (SEI Oxford), Fernanda Zermoglio (SEI Oxford), Jon Padgham (START International), Anna Taylor (SEI Oxford)


This material is largely based on the ACCCA project Synthesis Report