CEC Regional Vice-Chair Juliane Zeidler recently conducted a survey of CEC members in Eastern and Southern Africa to explore communication options and limits, especially for Web-based networking.
The survey was conducted in mid-2010 by Juliane Zeidler, CEC Regional Vice-Chair, and Linda Uulenga of Integrated Environmental Consultants Namibia. They conducted the same survey from West and Central Africa and will share the findings once finalized.
- CEC has currently members in 14 Eastern and Southern African (ESA) countries. Representatives of seven countries took place in the survey. Just over 22% of members participated in the survey. Survey results are considered indicative and must be interpreted with some caution.
- Profiles of CEC members: CEC members represent a wide range of institutions and technical backgrounds. A reasonable gender balance is observed, although youth representatives (under the age of 35) are underrepresented. Certain countries have no CEC members or only a very limited number.
- Target and interaction groups: The CEC ESA membership engages with a wide diversity of target/interaction groups. Whereas in the past a strong focus was on “traditional” Environmental Education, membership and expertise have broadened to address broader learning and communication needs, in line with trends observed in other CEC regions.
- Communication interaction: Access to online information seems to be an important need for CEC members in ESA. However, limitations in accessibility of internet are highlighted as key weaknesses. Limited resources to actually download, print and distribute materials seem to be a key barrier to effective use of internet based resources.
- Very few respondents seem to be familiar with more modern applications of social media and communication. Partially this seems to bee due to a lack of exposure, however, another key issue remains the limited accessibility to the hardware. Although all respondents have access to internet and cell phones, the quality of connectivity, frequency of access and costs vary greatly between CEC members and countries.
- Members’ expectations of CEC: Numerous ideas of what and how CEC can add value to the ongoing work of the experts and function as a network were proposed, especially serving as a provider of technical information.
1. CEC regional
- Membership: Need to actively solicit members with CEC relevant expertise, in line with revolving CEC profile. Specifically identify CEC members in countries with no/little membership and target youth.
- Network: Review and improve network delivery to better meet CEC member key expectations; use survey results as planning foundation (see detailed proposals on page 9).
2. CEC global
- Network: Consider survey results in the further development and projects of the CEC Global, especially new networking approach. Design relevant and more specific follow-up surveys/ needs assessments..
- Communication means: Keep technical and technological barriers in mind, especially when CEC Global is devising strategies for improving its outreach and communication i.e. through a web-based communication platform. Needs of other target groups to be considered (constituency with whom the CEC members interface).