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20 Jan 2011
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On the 'front line' of climate change
Africa
One year ago, as the world’s media was focused on UN climate talks then taking place in Copenhagen, the BBC WST Africa Talks Climate initiative brought the views of African citizens to the forefront of the debate.
As the 2010 conference draws to a close in Cancun, Mexico, are we any closer to a global deal on climate change? And what’s stopping us taking action to protect those most vulnerable to its effects?
BBC journalist Ed Butler recently visited southern Ethiopia to see how those on the 'front line' of climate change are coping with its effects. His report reflects many of the Africa Talks Climate research findings.
The importance of listening to African citizens’ view of climate change and addressing major barriers to understanding, such as language, are more important than ever.
Africans are among the least informed about human induced global climate change, its causes and its consequences. What is lacking is a basic terminology for climate change in local languages, together with access to relevant, appropriate information that could help them respond to the challenges it presents to all.
As Butler's report details, for these rural Ethiopians, the sense of helplessness is palpable: "We don't know what to do," said tribes people.
"If there is no water or rain, we can't cultivate or plant any sorghum," says Nalone Balay, a woman in the village of Mirobe.
"You see our flesh is pale and dry. We are dehydrated and there is no food."
You can read Ed Butler’s report in full on the Africa Talks Climate website. As part of the recent Climate Connection series broadcast on BBC World Service, you can also listen to BBC World Service Trust researchers Sam Otieno and Anna Godfrey talking about how language, religion and culture influence our understanding of climate change.
WS.com - 'Lost in Translation' - audio
Wangari Maathai: community, climate change and Copenhagen
Related links
Ed Butler's report in full
Public understanding of climate change in Africa - policy briefing
Raila Odinga: "Africa Talks Climate is relevant and significant now"
External links
BBC World Service - The Climate Connection
Africa Talks Climate
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