A climate information prize has been launched in Kenya to incentivize the development of innovative solutions to make climate change information more usable and accessible for vulnerable communities.

The winning organizations will help vulnerable communities access the information they require to enable them tackle climate uncertainty and risk.

“The organizations will be getting valid information from the Kenya Meteorology Department (KMD) and disseminate to consumers for free in helping create awareness,” a Senior Assistant Director of KMD David Gikungu said at the launch in Nairobi.

He noted that since climate change has adverse effects on individuals and communities, especially those whose livelihood is dependent on weather related activities, they require better access and usability of products and services informed by climate to enable them tackle the risks.

Gikungu observed that there is a lot of information on climate change but unfortunately they are not in formats that communities are able to understand and use.

“We have to use climate information to develop initiatives that help the vulnerable adapt to climate variability and change,” he noted.

The meteorologist said that the gap between producers and users of climate has existed for a long time due to the way the information was packaged and the language used.

“The department has devolved its services to all regions in the country and has set up radio stations broadcasting in vernacular languages with the aim of informing farmers, pastoralists and other users in far flung parts of the country,” he added.

Nicki Spence, the Climate Information Prize manager said that climate change has caused massive sufferings to many people globally hence the need to encourage innovators develop new ideas of tackling it.

“The winning organizations will listen and respond to local needs of different groups within their locality by availing easily understood information,” Spence said.

She noted that Kenya proved the best country globally to carry the program due to the government’s commitment to help and also the level of knowledge on climate change in the country.

CARE International Kenya’s leader for Adaptation Fiona Percy observed that given the adverse effects of climate change, experts and organizations need to start translating information in a language they understand and not foreign languages.

“We must begin to ask ourselves who the consumers of climate change information are and medium they prefer in receiving information to inform the packaging of information,” she noted.

She said that the popular use of mobile telephone may not be appropriate since some consumers are semi illiterate while others are unable to buy airtime.

The chairman of Kenya Climate Change Working Group John Kioli told stakeholders to lobby national and county governments to integrate climate change in their policies.

“This will enable the governments allocate funds for climate change to help create awareness and benefit the consumers,” he added

The Climate Information Prize consists of two types of prizes. The first one is Wazo (ideas) prize, that is a cash price of US$ 5,000 with a particular focus on the recognition, showcasing. 13 individuals and organizations have so far won this award.

The second prize, Tekeleza (Implementation) Prize, will be awarded to the best applicants who have implemented their initiatives on the ground over several years and can demonstrate the highest impact across a number of indicators. The winners will receive cash prize of 200,000 dollars.

Other projects will be undertaken in 13 countries including Ghana and Malawi.