STEPS TOWARDS ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE COMMUNICATION IN AFRICA
Posted October 09, 2023
Scientists discussing on ways to improve relations with communicators
The African Genetic Biocontrol Consortium during its 1st Global Congress on New Emerging Genetic Biocontrol Technologies held on August 28-31 2023, officially commissioned the Science Communication forum that was launched in February 2023 in response to a GMO 101 Course for journalists and science communicators. The Forum for Science Communicators (SCiCOM) aims to provide a platform for interaction among Journalists and Scientists to enhance opportunities for knowledge exchange and deliberation on issues related to genetic biocontrol technologies.
The global congress provided an opportunity to bring together and share experiences of scientists, science communicators and journalists from different countries in Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya in an interactive communication pre-conference course of its kind dubbed communicating the uncertainties associated with emerging biotechnologies.
Scientist, communicators and policy makers discussing on how to share knowledge with the community at large
Key takeaways from this meeting brought to light the need for scientists and communicators to work together to curb the common challenges faced by Science Communicators and journalists when communicating the basic science of gene drive technologies. The lack of trust between journalists and scientists was posed as a huge hindrance to proper communication and media coverage of science stories bringing about misinformation and sometimes half-baked science stories. Furthermore, the use of technical language and terminology is also one of the communication barriers. A clear outcome from the pre-conference course on communicating the uncertainties of emerging biotechnologies is that more efforts towards communication and leaning towards training of all experts involved is needed to bridge this gap.
One resolve that came from the course was that scientists were encouraged to involve journalists and communicators in the technology and development process to facilitate smoother communication and alignment of efforts.
One of the core recommendations emerging from the course was the need for collaborative efforts especially in Africa to contribute to an all-round approach to communication strategies aimed at enhancing public understanding of emerging biotechnologies. This will help counter misinformation eradicating the fears that come with the fear of unknown especially to the public.
This pre-conference course marked a huge milestone towards changing the future of science communication in Africa and building trust between scientists, researchers, journalists and science communicators