Elite Editing is proud to announce that the winner of the 2013 Thesis Write-up Scholarship is Mr nnaEmeka Chidiebere Meribe. Completing a PhD in Strategic Communications at La Trobe University, under the supervisor of Dr Mary Debrett and Mr John Benson, his thesis is entitled ‘Climate Change Communication and Sustainable Rural Development in Africa: The Nigerian Experience’. Below is nnaEmeka’s abstract, which demonstrates the importance of his research.
The scientific nature of climate change information makes its communication to a lay audience a significant challenge. The challenge is even greater when the audience is mainly illiterate and has no known generally accepted word for the phenomenon. This is largely the situation in many rural areas in Africa, a region that contributes little to anthropogenic climate change but unfortunately will suffer most from the impacts due to its low adaptive capacity. However, it appears that policymakers have yet to appreciate this situation, given that there is no apparent communication strategy for making climate change information meaningful to rural people. Governments still adopt the familiar strategy of using the mass media to reach the public, which tends to alienate the rural majority who lack access to the mass media. Focusing on Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, this case study seeks to provide critical insights into the current climate change communication regime in Africa and its implications for sustainable rural development. Firstly, the project investigates how journalism practices shape climate change news, examining news frames applied by three Nigerian newspapers in reporting climate change. Secondly, in developing a broader critique of current climate change communication practices in Nigeria, the study explores ways the Indigenous African Communication Systems (IACS) can be used to make climate change information meaningful to rural people. Applying both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, the study provides for empirical insights into various dimensions of climate change communication in urban and rural Africa.