In an effort to bypass the typical top-down flow of knowledge and information from research activities, the Enhancing Resilience to Climate and Ecosystem Changes in Semi-Arid Africa (CECAR-Africa) project at UNU-IAS has been using environmental theatre to disseminate and validate its major research findings and intervention strategies on climate and ecosystem changes in semi-arid Ghana.
Through theatre, CECAR-Africa aims to offer a platform for discussing, reflecting on, and communicating future climatic uncertainties, outcomes, existing and potential adaptation/intervention strategies, and current drivers within and across households and communities in the area. The aim is to encourage and empower local communities to translate research findings and intervention strategies into local contexts, in order to reach a wider audience and promote self-action beyond immediate project interventions.
Through a small-scale pilot community theatre exercise, scientific findings were translated into drama pieces to reflect the most plausible past, present, and future scenarios. Through a series of rehearsals, carried out under the guidance of a theatre expert, actors from local communities were able to improvise, create, and rehearse scenes based on agreed messages from the project’s findings and intervention strategies. The drama pieces used fictional characters to communicate actual stories of exposure and sensitivity to, as well as adaptive capacity for, such climate and ecosystem change stresses as droughts, floods, bushfires, and the degradation and decline of provisioning ecosystem services.
In late April and early May 2016, the pilot communities held performances for community members. To stimulate discussions, project researchers gathered feedback from performers and audience members through post-performance interactions and follow-up interviews. Most interviewees, especially women, stated that the drama pieces helped them find a voice to contribute to communal discussions. Some said they had also learned about environmental problems occurring as a result of their own actions (or inactions), and vowed to change their behaviour towards natural ecosystems.
After an evaluation of the processes and procedures in its current sites, CECAR-Africa hopes to expand the theatre exercise to the rest of its study communities.
For more, see Disseminating Research Findings through Community Theatre in Ghana on the UNU-IAS website.
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The UNU-IAS CECAR-Africa project, which involves UNU-INRA and other leading adaptation and resilience research institutes in Ghana and Japan, aims to combine climate change and ecosystem change research, and to build an integrated resilience enhancement strategy as a “Ghana model”.