World Food Day: A Science Communicator’s Perspective

World Food Day is a call to collective action to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 – Zero Hunger. It is a call for collaboration and engagement as well as a challenge to come together and create solutions that bring about positive change that benefits all.

Ms Mologadi Makwela Manager: Communication, Marketing, and Engagement spoke to FSNetAfrica about her experiences as a science writer working on issues related to food security at the Centre of Excellence in Food Security co-hosted by the University of the Western Cape and the University of Pretoria. She shares her thoughts on this critical issue.

Is there enough awareness around issues of food insecurity and sustainable development?

My experience in the sector is that a lot has been done to bring issues of food insecurity, climate change, agriculture, and hunger into the public domain. But more can still be done. Working in a diverse environment and country, not just in terms of languages only, but in cultures, makes the communication of research and the sharing of information that much more important. This is where the craft of storytelling comes in. And one of the most rewarding aspect of my job has been working with researchers and practitioners in the field to really take their findings and craft stories around them that will make them relatable and relevant to the public.

What is the role of science communicators in achieving Zero Hunger in Africa?

The role of a science communication practitioner is to raise awareness and elevate the level of science evidence to support our society to live better, more sustainable, and more equitable lives. If you are a communication practitioner, you are building partnerships with society, civil society organisations, the media, government, decision-makers, and institutions of learning. It requires a joint and collaborative effort between various parts of society if we’re going to raise and elevate these issues to where they need to be. If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it is the importance of accurate and upto-date information reaching the right people to help them make informed decisions. The same is true of science communication. If we want the government to make decisions that are informed by verifiable facts or knowledge, science communicators have to showcase the research from institutions that they represent. As we attempt to rebuild the economy, strengthen the public health system, and regain livelihoods, science communication practitioners have a role to play – not only in helping the public make informed choices but also in bridging the gap between research and policy.

What does World Food Day mean to you as a science communication specialist?

World Food Day is a time for us to consider the ways in which we can do better in informing the public and sharing the research conducted across universities in order to address the critical challenges we face in our society. As communicators, we have a critical role to play in helping people make informed decisions by sharing verified information. World Food Day is a call to showcase advancements in the food system as well as areas in which we could still do better.

World Food Day is a call to action for all of us to recommit to ending hunger by addressing the complex challenges of food insecurity. Specifically, to us as science communicators, it is an opportunity to take stock of the ways in which we communicate about food insecurity, hunger, climate change, and agriculture.