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Reclaiming the Nama Past to Adapt to the Future

Exploring national responsibility past & present through diagrams and graphs

By Julia Röttinger, Intern with the Climate Change Program

On the 26th and 27thof August 2016 Dr Cath Traynor and intern Julia Röttinger held a workshop with the Kuboes Youth Group facilitated by Gerren De Wett who himself is a community and lives in Kuboes. It was the first time that Natural Justice worked with that specific youth group and therefore interesting to see how the young participants between 23 and 31 years would react.

Studies on climate change have indicated that vulnerable groups, which include Indigenous Peoples are likely to be negatively impacted, and groups such as the Nama People in Kuboes, Richtersveld are expected to suffer climate change impacts, with effect principally felt through water resource availability and food security. The workshop therefore introduced key issues related to climate change: namely climate science, climate justice, the role of indigenous knowledge and community rights issues.

Mapping international to local responses to climate change

On the first day some background information on Natural Justice’s work was given before moving on to the topic of climate change and climate justice. The young adults were asked to explain what they associate with climate change. It was interesting to see how the group engaged with the topic through participatory activities. After the first session it was clear that the group had some knowledge on climate change which helped to introduce climate justice including the issues of responsibility and the moral obligation of more developed countries to act. Short videos and other activities raised awareness and caught the group’s interest which made it easier to connect to the last task. After discussing their own experience as active pastoralists of climate change impacts in the Richtersveld area, the participants went out to interview Kuboes’ elders in order to find out more about changes in the climate during the past 30-50 years.

Energizers from Forum Theater approaches

The second day started with a short icebreaker activity which was facilitated by one of the youth group members, Regina, and energized the group. It was obvious that everyone was more comfortable now and the young adults were open and keen to learn more about the topic. The next session started off with an introduction to climate change responses on all levels – from international to municipal – through this the group realised how much is being done in theory. Further, an activity illustrated that there are ways to engage on climate change and climate justice issues on all levels as well as to participate and use human and also indigenous rights in engagements. In the next part the interview outcomes were discussed and reflected. The members had a very interactive and participatory conversation and came to the conclusion that they would like to learn much more about their indigenous knowledge with regard to climate change from the elders in the Nama community. Furthermore, the group prepared a “participation contract” for the Peer-to-Peer Learning Exchange with Small-Scale Rooibos Producers in Nieuwoudtville (Northern Cape) for the following weekend which the youth group members are definitely looking forward to.

The Quiver Tree (a long-lived giant tree Aloe) is shifting its distribution towards the poles in response to climate change

In summary, the objectives and expectations of the workshop, such as raising awareness of climate change and climate justice issues, examining impacts of climate change in the Richtersveld area as well as highlighting the value of Nama indigenous knowledge and its relevance to climate change adaptation were achieved.

30 August 2016


Climate Change


South Africa

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