12 September 2023, Port Vila – The importance of understanding the role of the media in helping to build resilience in Vanuatu was emphasised during the start of a two-day communications training workshop for staff of the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department (VMGD).
The training is also aimed at building the capacity of, and empowering, the technical experts working within the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geohazards Department to amplify their voices to disseminate information that will aid communities in Vanuatu in preparing for the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events.
The training is conducted as part of the capacity building component of the Vanuatu Klaemet Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (Van-KIRAP) project, and facilitated by the Communications and Outreach unit of the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Principal Seasonal Climate Forecast Officer with the VMGD, Ms Glenda Pakoa, spoke on behalf of the Director to officially open the training and to convey their appreciation to the SPREP and Van-KIRAP for coordinating the training.
“VMGD welcomes this initiative by Van-KIRAP and SPREP, as it is always good to have a refresher training on how to effectively communicate and also on how to work with the media,” she said.
“This is especially important for us as a technical institution that deals with a lot of scientific information. We constantly need upskilling on how to effectively communicate this information to the public and those who do not have the same scientific knowledge that we have.”
More than 20 staff of VMGD, all working in different capacities, attended the training workshop and shared their reflections on working with the media and some of the challenges they face in this area.
SPREP’s Communications and Outreach Adviser, Ms Nanette Woonton, emphasised to the participants the importance of their voices in building resilience within the communities of Vanuatu.
“While this training is on communications and how to better work with the media, the most important objective of this training is to empower your voice and make you feel comfortable to communicate information for a more resilient Vanuatu,” Ms Woonton said.
“When it comes to climate and the weather, you are the experts. No one else, whether in the media or the public, knows what you know. We want you to feel empowered to communicate that information in a way that can be understood by everyone, regardless of what level of society they’re at.”
Van-KIRAP Acting Manager, Mr Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, said that one of the deliverables of the Van-KIRAP project is capacity building, and the communications training was part of that capacity building to ensure that the climate information that is being generated within the project and VMGD is communicated to the end-users and especially to the last mile.
“We can generate all the climate information but if it is not communicated effectively, it is of no use to anyone,” said Mr Seuseu.
The Vanuatu Klaement Infomesen blong Redy, Adapt mo Protekt (Van-KIRAP) project is a five-year, USD 22 million project which aims to support climate resilient development in Vanuatu through the development, communication, and application of climate information services to benefit agriculture, fisheries, tourism, infrastructure, waste sectors and communities. It is funded by the Green Climate Fund and implemented by the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme in partnership with the Vanuatu Meteorology and Geo-hazards Department, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, and APEC Climate Centre.
For more information, please contact Mr Sunny Kamuta Seuseu, Van-KIRAP Acting Project Manager, at [email protected].