Understanding our responses to environmental change

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Gangavasi Episode 3 premiers in Kwale County

In 2015 as part of our AXA-funded project, You, Me and Our Resilience, we developed a Forum-Theatre performance, Gangavasi to explore resilience to extreme weather events with communities on the south Kenya Coast. Your can view a short film about the project here. Led by S.A.F.E. Pwani, part of S.A.F.E. Kenya, Gangavasi was based on people’s own stories and experiences, and articulated their views about what needed to happen to enable communities to prepare and deal with extreme weather – particularly floods – more effectively. We also made a film about the performances, which was then shown to communities, and S.A.F.E. Pwani convened a series of workshops to discuss the key messages from the play and the film. We reported this in a paper published in Ecology and Society in 2017.

But what happened to the characters in Gangavasi? What might the future hold for them? We are really fortunate to be able to work with S.A.F.E. Pwani once more, and to produce a follow up performance which explores what happened next.

Ganagvasi Episode 3 continues the story and again sets out opposing arguments for and against change articulated by different characters. The age-old dilemmas of youth versus elders and innovation versus tradition are debated through the experiences, actions and views of the main characters. We see Halima, together with her friends Aisha, Nyamvula and Sylvester, trying to bring the community together to support youth-led initiatives such as tree planting, rubbish collecting, promoting girls’ education and protecting marine life. The three elders, Chengo, Faisal and Omar are proving particularly resistant to the youth’s initiatives, having tried a few ideas themselves in the past and failed.

In a novel twist, Nyamvula challenges her father Omar to think about their community’s future, where are they going to be in 20 years? What will 2039 look like if they continue like this? And Omar finds himself thinking of the year 2039, and suddenly he is transported 20 years into the future. This then sets the scene for the characters – and the communities – to see different futures and to consider what actions now will determine the shape of the future for Ganagvasi. How can a thriving and prosperous Ganagvasi be build and how can prosperity be made sustainable for everyone in the community to benefit?

The performances are taking place in Kenya during January and we will be undertaking follow-up activities in February and March.

My thanks as always to the wonderful S.A.F.E. Pwani for their imagination, talent and professionalism. Working with them to develop this next stage of Gangavasi has been a great privilege, and their engagement with coastal communities in Kenya is truly inspiring.

Photo credit: S.A.F.E. Kenya

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