Access To Info On Science, Technology Still A Challenge Amid Covid-19, Says Veronica Mwaba

Ms Mwaba

DZIWA Science Technology Trust(DSAT) Founder Veronica Mwaba says government should make deliberate efforts to make available resources to build capacity in the media specially on COVID-19 pandemic to learn more on how the new Corona Virus is devastating key sectors of the economy.

And Mrs Mwaba is worried that though the influence of science and technology towards society and economic development is increasing, science lack human interest.

Speaking in Lusaka, Ms Mwaba said the New Corona virus is complex, hence scientists should orient journalists to cover public health and ongoing research.

“In my view, Zambia media are trying their best to report on science and technology under challenging circumstances. However, access to information remain a challenge. In the first instance, communication is a two-way process and access to credible sources of information remain critical.
For example, research suggests that COVID-19 is being under-reported not only in Zambia but Africa at large. It is assumed that media are reproducing the international narratives as compared to the local news on how the pandemic is affecting society,” she said.

Ms Mwaba said the New Corona virus is complex, therefore scientists should orient journalists to cover public health and ongoing research.

“…However, it is also important to note that communication is at the heart of many biggest challenges faced by researchers today. Therefore, it will be necessary for scientists and media to collaborate in the communications outreach to fight COVID-19 pandemic. The best practices and prominence in public engagement could influence to mobilise support for research and development in all the key sectors of development in Zambia,” she said.

And Ms Mwaba said though the influence of science and technology towards society and economic development cannot is increasing, science lack human interest, it is complex to interpret by lay persons and quite often, science stories are side-lined by many.

“Science plays an increasingly important role in promoting better understanding of issues facing society from physical health to day-to-day business in everyday life. In Zambia for example, the government places strong emphasis on science and technology. This is captured firmly in its National Policy and Technology. However, it is also noted that the government recognises the need for communication in this area to be improved and mainstreamed to place science and technology at the centre of national development agenda,” the DSaT Executive Director said.

She regrets that consequently, one can point to the weaknesses in communicating science and technology, the situation that cannot not be ignored

“The above factors led to the birth of Dziwa Science and Technology Trust (DSaT) on 26 January, 2018. The establishment of DSaT is on the premise to improve a viable and robust link between Science, Technology and Innovation through enhanced science communication and advocacy. Therefore, DSaT distinguishes itself through the determination to shape the Zambian society into realizing and appreciating the importance of science and technology in people’s livelihood and its contribution to economic development,” Ms Mwaba.

She added that DSaT aims to bridge the information gap in media and science advocacy through collaboration with researchers, academia, media, policy and the public.

“Our vision is to realise a scientifically informed and prosperous Zambia, our mission is to provide a platform to scientists, policy makers, women and youths to be exposed to scientific concepts and our goal is to enhance the application and adoption of modern technologies,” Ms Mwaba.

The DSaT Executive Director said the organisation is headed in the right direction, saying today, there is a lot of recognition from local and international organisations providing moral support to the cause.

“Let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Zambia through Ministry of Higher Education who were the first to endorse the DSaT science advocacy concept. Other government and public institutions have come on board to acknowledge DSaT works. For example, DSaT organised a ‘Walk for Evidence Based Science’ on 6 February 2020 this was supported by local and international media, government agencies, individual researchers, youths, public and private sector,” she said.