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Winner Spotlight: @conservaction

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A winning proposal in the Communicating Coastal Risk and Resilience contest comes from @conservaction, with their A Collaborative Solutions Communication Platform idea targeted at improving the resilience of coastal communities in Tanzania. The team plans to create an informative radio program that opens dialogue among various stakeholders working to make coastal communities resilient to the effects of climate change. The ultimate objective is to develop ‘Tunza Kwa Faida’, a weekly radio program that features residents’ stories and the impacts they are feeling from climate change, as well as expert advice on ecologically-sound adaptation solutions to minimize posed risks.

We talked with Anne-Marie Soulsby of @conservaction and here’s what she shared with us:

What inspired you to submit a proposal to the Climate CoLab?

Our inspiration, as for all of our work, is the Tanzanian community. We have spoken to different groups of citizens along the coast and their stories are not about huge, dramatic weather events. Instead, climate change, manifesting as crop failure due to drought or increased salinization of the soil, results in issues that are not often reported as climate change related, such as an increase in alcoholism, rising divorce rates and parents becoming unable to afford school fees. These are the actual impacts of climate change that affect citizens on a day to day basis, and validates the reality that climate change impacts the poorest hardest.

We also recognise the struggle of finding funding for communications, which is a problem for most of our stakeholders. The Tanzanian Government, civil society organisations, academic institutions and businesses do not necessarily have the funds to continually convey climate change information or create a cohesive climate change advisory service. We will fill that communications gap and connect products and services that increase climate change resiliency and provide adaptation solutions to the communities in need.

We have been working on our original idea to share exciting and successful environmental solutions via media since 2010. We set up our non-governmental organisation and developed our pilot episodes of our radio section of the platform, which were aired nationally in 2012. Since then we have fundraised to be able to build our own recording studio. This has allowed us to start generating an income to cover our core costs. We have then begun applying for funding, and the Climate CoLab competition was open just at the right time. It has enabled us to focus on one of our theme areas, climate change, for a specific region and community. We were able to use our previous work in this area to submit a proposal that demonstrated our idea is feasible and ready to be implemented. Winning the contest is our second major stepping stone. It’s our opportunity to obtain start-up funding that will enable us to attract users of the platform, mainly a large loyal listenership to the radio programme, community champions of our solutions and subscribers to our text based messaging service. This will, in effect, build a ‘customer’ base, which is attractive to large corporations to become sponsors. They will finance our platform and we will achieve long-term self-sufficiency.

What was the best thing that came out of being a part of the Climate CoLab?

The best thing for us was the amount of support that we got for our idea and the fact that we actually, finally, won recognition! It was great to connect with lots of old friends from the past, make new connections along the way and also to receive the congratulatory messages. Four years of hard work have paid off, and best of all, we can look forward to making our collaborative solutions communication platform a reality.

What are you most hoping to get out of the conference?

We are excited about being able to present at such a great conference, at MIT, which is an honour in itself. We want to make contacts, listen to advice from experts and interact with others who share our passion and drive. We are hoping to take every single moment and turn them into funding or support opportunities for our idea. We want to make this happen and we are hoping the conference is the just the beginning of turning our dream into a reality. Our goal is to empower citizens with knowledge that allow them to make informed decisions and to access information that can enable them to help themselves. That is what we want to ultimately get out of the conference.

Check out the winning proposal here and meet the team at Climate CoLab’s Crowds & Climate Conference, Nov 6-7 at MIT!

See other Spotlights of Climate CoLab winners, Fellows and Advisors here: https://www.climatecolab.org/web/guest/search#search=searchPhrase:spotlight