How can storytelling best serve people and lands experiencing the increasingly serious impacts of climate change? This is the question Adverse Camber is setting off to explore, in partnership with ICPAC (Intergovernmental Authority on Development Climate Prediction and Applications Centre) in a British Council funded project, Storying our Futures: climate resilience through indigenous knowledge.
Storying our Futures brings together storytellers from East Africa and the UK along with journalists, scientists, communities and climate activists. Listening to those with indigenous knowledge, plus meteorologists, scientists, journalists and communities who are adapting to the realities of the changing climate, we want to discover how stories can create the most meaningful impact. We believe storytelling has an important part to play and have recruited two storytellers to work as artist-researchers to explore the theory in practice.
John Mukeni Namai is a storyteller based in Nairobi, Kenya, and Mara Menzies alternates her time between Kenya and Edinburgh, Scotland. This September, they are working together as integral members of an ICPAC field trip, visiting communities in Turkana and Western Pokot in Northern Kenya, who are being impacted by the current drought, and associated challenges. The field trip will bring meteorologists and communities into dialogue about adaptation strategies.
As well as engaging with these communities, hearing and sharing stories, the storytellers will also speak to a journalist based in South Sudan, Joseph Ngor Deng, about indigenous knowledge holders, traditional rainmakers in his community who are able to forecast the weather and provide leadership, despite the many challenges of the changing climate.
This project has been co-designed by a trio of ICPAC scientists and community engagement experts, Linda Ogallo, Collison Lore and Calistus Wachana, working closely with two UK co-lead storyteller/researchers, Cath Heinemeyer and Hannah McDowall. Throughout the field trip, the storytellers and ICPAC team members will be gathering video footage and audio recordings which the UK team will be shaping into a podcast.
Later in the year, this podcast will be an integral element of a half-day online workshop for storytellers, sharing insights and findings from the project, pooling practitioners’ experience of work in this field and developing a manifesto for change.
ICPAC will also be producing a film to share with climate policy makers in the IGAD region (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda). Joseph Ngor Deng will be making programmes for community radio stations in Dinka, one of South Sudan’s languages, and there will also be online events focussed on NGO organisations, climate activists, funders, academics and storytellers to amplify the voices of the Global South and grow the idea of how storytelling can help those working towards system change.
We wish the whole team well as they embark on their field trip and will share the latest news with you as the project unfolds.
Photographs by Edwin Kiplagat from ICPAC.
Storying our Futures: climate resilience through indigenous knowledge is funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants, which are designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate on international arts projects.