Climate change has brought about severe and possibly permanent alterations to the planet’s geological, biological and ecological systems. Engaging communities while designing climate change projects has far-reaching impacts on individuals’ perception, attitudes and behaviour, leading to successful projects.
For a long time, Pamela Levira did not involve communities when designing her climate change research work, and when it came to implementing the projects, the communities were always suspicious. “Climate change projects cannot be done by scientists alone. One must work with the community for the projects to succeed fully,” she says.
Her experience at the University of Sunshine Coast, Australia, where she graduated with a Masters in Climate Change Adaptation Research in 2011 through a scholarship funded by the Australian Government, changed her approach to designing climate change research projects. “I got tools to design my projects and learned how to engage people to ensure that the projects succeed,” says Pamela.
In 2013, during the initial stages of the implementation of the Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation Projects in Pugu and Kazimzumbwi Forest Reserves in Tanzania, where Pamela was a team member, one of her contributions was that a reconnaissance survey in the study site be done to learn about the community’s needs before designing the project. ”Our survey looked into the needs of the community, leading to a motivated community that was ready and willing to collaborate with scientists in addressing the problem of land use and cover changes,” says Pamela.
Pamela has brought inclusiveness and engagement in conducting research. “Communities now have a sense of ownership of the projects when I engage with them, leading to better project results and sustainability. When you engage people to get their views, they help you address the problem,” says Pamela, who is now well versed in the social aspects of climate change.
Currently, Pamela works in the research section of the Meteorological Department, where she organises research seminars, mobilises co-workers and writes proposals with people in mind. “I know how to translate scientific terms and how they affect the people,” she says.