In Haiti, the coast has been stripped of protective mangrove forests and coral reefs, and its 11 million people – no further than 100 kilometers from the ocean – are increasingly vulnerable to sea level rise. In Israel, more than half of the population lives in coastal cities and towns, threatened by flooding and erosion. In South Africa, coastal communities were battered by a recent storm in Durban that unleashed the equivalent of 75 percent of the entire country’s annual rainfall in a 24-hour period.
The coastal impacts of climate change might look different in each of these countries, yet they share much in common: affected communities, policymakers and other stakeholders all need better data, information and resources to demand action, make decisions and implement solutions that keep people safe.
To help fill this gap, EJN’s Covering Coastal Resilience project will support three media organizations in Haiti, Israel and South Africa to lead journalism projects focused on coastal resilience. After a competitive selection process with more than 60 applications from around the world, we selected these organizations based on their unique and innovative project proposals to boost journalists’ capacity to cover this important issue more effectively.
In Haiti, local news organization HaitiClimat is collaborating with Studio Canek, a Canadian media company, to produce an online course and training materials for Haitian journalists to improve their understanding and coverage of coastal issues and potential solutions to build resilience.
HaitiClimat and Studio Canek will develop training materials for journalists in Haitian Creole. The modules will include expert interviews, datasets, case studies, graphics and animated explainer videos, plus skills-building training for journalists on audio storytelling, solutions journalism and more. Later in the project, the organizations plan to commission several stories from participating journalists to be broadcast throughout the country.
In Israel, the I’lam Center for Media Freedom, Development and Research will begin a media monitoring exercise with EJN support, evaluating the current state of information on climate change and coastal issues in the region to better understand the information gaps and the quality of the existing media coverage.
In the west, Israel is bound by the Mediterranean Sea, known to be warming faster than much of the world, and climate change is already deeply affecting the marginalized communities living on the Israeli coastline.
The I’lam Center’s staff will facilitate training sessions with local journalists to boost their knowledge and capacity to report on coastal issues, culminating in each journalist producing stories. They will also hold media campaigns and a roundtable event to help journalists engage with community members and share information.
Our third grant was awarded to Media Hack Collective in South Africa, a data journalism start-up. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Collective addressed the lack of available and accessible data on Covid-19 cases, deaths and other related information by building a free interface that was visited by millions of people in South Africa and beyond.
Using the April 2022 Durban storm as a baseline, Media Hack will now collect and visualize data on socioeconomic issues, population growth, historical and projected sea level rise and rainfall, residential housing including informal settlements, key infrastructure and planned developments, to capture the pressures on the country’s coast. The website, aimed at journalists and the general public, will also include information about potential solutions and disaster prevention to build resilience.
Eventually, Media Hack plans to expand their open-source dashboard to include data for the rest of South Africa and other countries in the region.
“Each of these countries is facing major and urgent threats from sea level rise and other coastal issues,” said EJN Program Associate Hannah Bernstein, the project manager for Covering Coastal Resilience. “Yet despite the urgency, science-based information does not often reach the coastal communities it would most benefit, including the journalists attempting to keep their audiences informed of the stakes and strategies to ensure resilience. We’re excited for these grantees to begin changing that.”
Look out for more information on these projects on the EJN website in the coming months.
Banner image: A beach sunset in Durban, South Africa / Credit: Zanele Zwane via Unsplash.