Success story: Understanding the climate change knowledge gap in the Congo basin

COBAM’s Team

Since October 2013, COBAM’s researchers have been carrying out research across four countries in the Congo Basin on the availability of information and knowledge related to climate change adaptation and REDD+ in the region, from 2008 to 2013. The specific objectives of the study are:

  • to survey the available information and knowledge in the region,
  • to compare and contrast available information and knowledge with commonly recommended standards to identify capacity building and research needs, and
  • to examine the different means or channels of circulating information.

The methodology used comprised two phases. The first phase consisted of the collection and the review of official documents, publications and grey literature in order to identify relevant concepts, actors and stakeholders implicated in climate change adaptation and REDD+. In-depth interviews constituted the second phase. Here is the story of experience in the field.

Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Gabon were targeted for data collection. The team worked with a large array of actors representing different groups of stakeholders, including donors, government, NGOs and the private sector, at national and international levels.

In general, the interviews were conducted in a very enthusiastic atmosphere with the interviewees being very excited about sharing their knowledge with regards to the climate change issue. In Cameroon, for example, the researchers were impressed by the high level of awareness of some of the non-scientific actors on climate change concepts.

However, research isn’t all peaches and cream, and COBAM researchers found some difficulties.

  • the fragmented and undocumented nature of information and knowledge given out or received by actors on climate change,
  • the lack of coordination among actors, with similar interventions taking place in parallel and confusion on who does what, when and with whom,
  • the difficulty of meeting some actors because of their very busy schedule,
  • the difficulty some actors had in understanding the difference between adaptation (process of trying to accommodate the impact of climate change) and mitigation (process of finding ways to reduce GHGs emissions responsible for climate change).

Difficulties like this also constitute some of the findings of the study, already throwing some light at the research questions. In this sense, initial findings suggest a need for better coordination among actors both outside and inside organizations, the importance of centralizing data and documents on climate change and the need for popularization of related concepts.

Pilot project's managers with the COBAM research team. Courtesy Merline Touko

Pilot project’s managers with the COBAM research team. Courtesy Merline Touko