Here at the African COP, I aimed to highlight African climate change experiences. As a young African filmmaker, I am extremely excited to have been selected as the winner of the Connect4Climate Special Prize in their photo/video competition. This is a great opportunity for me and for the communities I have been working with in Southern and Eastern Africa to showcase the exciting photo, theatre and video work I have been engaged in with them.
With Astrid Westerlind Wigström I have developed and implemented the ClimateConscious Programme of ResourceAfrica UK. Under this programme, we have worked with partner NGOs in Namibia, Tanzania and Kenya to raise awareness, build capacity and facilitate the knowledge exchange with and from rural African communities. Our activities are aimed at spreading climate change knowledge to those communities most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and least likely to receive climate change education.
We engage communities to narrate their livelihood experiences though photo-stories, from which we are able to learn more about their climate change vulnerabilities, opportunities and adaptation strategies. In Namibia and Kenya, we have participatory community theatre groups that link climate change to the local context. In Tanzania, we worked with the Maasai to produce a community-led educational film, The World Has Malaria that is being shown by mobile cinema in villages around northern Tanzania. Each screening is followed by climate change discussions, facilitated by our partner organisation.
Until now all our activities have been aimed at community audiences. At COP17, we have we been able to showcase our experiences to an international audience for the first time. Over the last week, we have run a stall exhibiting the community photo-stories, bringing their voices to an international audience. With Connect4Climate, we are able to take their voices beyond the COP to you, a community connected on climate change.
It is most satisfying to witness when communities realise that climate change is not a curse brought upon them by God, or caused by environmental degradation by their neighbours, but to realise that pollution from the developed world is affecting their seasons and their livelihoods. Knowledge is power. Understanding that seasons may not return to how they were, that rains may come at different times, or that droughts may be longer and more severe allows for the communities to plan ahead, to realise their own future, and act to manage it as best as possible.
With Connect4Climate I can share these experiences both visually and in person. On Thursday, I was invited to present and show my winning film at the “Climate Change Awareness Raising and Education” side-event at COP17. The energy of this event was phenomenal, and the rallying call was clear: “We must act now to save the future”! Now I hope to help build the Connect4Climate movement, to rally us, the youth, to take charge of our future.