Training of Climate Change Promoters and Radio Broadcasters in the Chucunaque Region

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Primary topic: Communication. Review completed. Carmela Lanza will consolidate the comments liaising with Cinthia Soto.

Booklet: Nominated by Sarah Czunyi (for Communication) and Laetitia Zobel (for Partnerships with Local Communities and Indigenous People. Her third choice, a bit less original then the other 2 she selected.). Favourited by Jim Perry and Carmela Lanza.| ]]

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Through UNEP and ANAM, the Panamanian National Environmental Authority, the Joint Climate Change Programme provided training for 39 community climate change promoters in the Chucunaque region and 40 more in the Tabasará region. The training provided falls within the FAO-MIDA framework for communication and education strategies for community activists. This training serves to strengthen the capacity of community leaders to initiate processes of communication and education regarding climate change and to promote changes within their communities so that these, in turn, may provide guidance and assistance to the authorities when making decisions which would favour climate change adaptation and mitigation. The promoters voluntarily assume the challenge of becoming agents of change based on a comprehensive approach to training and by training themselves to intervene in their communities in conjunction with the Joint Programme.

This network for information on climate change is strengthened by the addition of 17 community radio broadcasters selected from the group of community promoters. By combining theoretical and practical knowledge, the Joint Programme is able to develop a process which makes it possible to transmit complex communications theory in a language that is easy to understand, thereby allowing the Chucunaque and Tabasará broadcasters to adopt new tools and techniques for communicating their message, such as radio magazines, news tickers, spots, micro-dramas, etc.

Purpose of the activity

To make a significant contribution to environmental sustainability and to adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change in vulnerable regions throughout the country by developing the capacity of local promoters to transmit and adapt their knowledge to local conditions.

To enable community promoters to provide the respective communities with information regarding Climate Change by means of elements inherent in their own world view and respecting their cultural values, experience and knowledge.

Original issue addressed by the activity

Due to the vulnerable nature of their situation, these two regions were selected for the development of a range of activities relating to adaptation and mitigation measures. It was established, however, that the reinforced social capital necessary to sustain these activities over time was non-existent, thus confirming the need to strengthen local capacities.

Due to the cultural and ethnic diversity, three teams of promoters will be formed, one in the Emberá Wounaan region, one in the Guna Wargandi region and, in the case of Chucunaque, one in the peasant, or tenant area. Each of these groups interprets, adapts and informs people in their own language, respecting their own customs and world view.

Strategy / approach chosen to address the issue

Two esteemed local spokespersons, or community leaders, were selected. In the primary subjects, participative strategies were employed in order to give the participants an opportunity to speak, thereby encouraging active participation. Close communication was established with those involved.

In order to raise awareness and consciousness and to provide knowledge on the priority subjects (Climate Change from the point of view of its effect on the quality of life of the community, agricultural production, waste management, plumbing, clean water and food safety and risk management), the most suitable training methodologies and techniques were chosen and the most popular means of communication in the community were used, i.e. radio, films and videos, socio-drama, dramatizations, etc.

Implementation of the strategy / chosen approach

The process began with the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the traditional authorities of the Emberá Wounaan region (Cacique) and the Wargandí region (Sáhila Dummad). Once this bond between the traditional leaders had been established, activities promoting awareness of climate change were performed and directed at local, traditional and administrative authorities. Following this, seven communities were visited and the message of awareness was brought to a total of 364 people.

The next step was to select 40 people from different communities, according to profile and with the consent of the authorities, to be trained as climate change promoters. During the training process, which consisted of three workshops of four days each, a participative, congenial methodology was employed and the relevant thematical axes around which the training was to be provided were defined. The promoters were instructed in Climate Change, Human Development and Environmental Legislation.

To complete the process a number of promoters were chosen for training in radio broadcasting. Three workshops were held, lasting four days each, during which time a variety of subjects, such as the media, diction, narration and production, were developed. A total of 17 radio broadcasters were trained in the Chucunaque region.

By combining theoretical and practical knowledge, the Joint Programme is able to develop a process which makes it possible to transmit complex communications theory in a language that is easy to understand, thereby allowing the Chucunaque and Tabasará broadcasters to adopt new tools and techniques for communicating their message, such as radio magazines, news tickers, spots, micro-dramas, etc.

Results and Impacts

Consolidation of a social network, reinforcing both human capital and social fabric.


Reports, photos, as well as schedules and content of the training workshops. Communication Products were also developed, including three Explanatory Guides for Climate Change Promoters and the Promoter's Guide

Next Steps

First of all, the Promoters will implement the Action Plan (a guide to dissemination of the lessons learned) in small groups from within their community in both the short term and the medium term until finally, in the long term, all the communities from the Chucunaque region are included. In order to produce this plan, the promoters defined and developed the following subjects for each of the regions (Comarca Emberá, Comarca Guna Wargandi and the roadside area):

  1. Problems Identified
  2. Central Characters Involved
  3. Methodologies
  4. Scope
  5. Goals
  6. Objectives
  7. Central Action Strategies
  8. Activities
  9. Schedule
  10. Budget

Potential replication / application

This has been a uniquely enriching experience, particularly when one considers that, in rural areas such as those where the Joint Programme operates, the radio is the principle means of communication due to the disperse nature of the population, the inaccessibility of the majority of the populated areas and the oral nature of the languages and cultural habits of the inhabitants.

This experience has led to the setting up of the bases for a climate change communications network, the operation of which is not limited to just the watershed regions. The Joint Programme promotes the exchange of knowledge and facilitates interaction among the radio broadcasters while contributing to the interchange of cultures, languages, life-styles and experiences.

In the case of the promoters, as opposed to the radio broadcasters, the strategy is to begin in the home and work in small groups, disseminating information and knowledge. Beginning with their families, they expand to include their neighbours and, eventually, the entire community. The promoters use the methodological tools and materials at their disposal to provide a comprehensive approach to subjects such as climate change, environmental legislation and human development and, in the medium or long term, will eventually provide training for other trainers.

Information products

Explanatory Guide to Climate Change, Explanatory Guide to Environmental Legislation and the Promoter's Guide.


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