Our Postgraduate Fellow, Alicea Garcia, a PhD Candidate in the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment has just returned from fieldwork in Africa where she conducted gender-inclusive climate change workshops in Ghana.
Alicea’s research addresses the gendered dynamics of climate change adaptation processes in Ghana’s Central Region. The project specifically examines how related processes of power and social norms can affect the adaptive capacities of rural farmers. Alicea aims to continue to build research relationships as well as build knowledge on opportunities for emancipation from inequality and improved strategies for elevating the adaptive capacities of rural farmers in Ghana and Africa.
Below is Alicea’s update on her recent research trip to Ghana.
For those of you who made it to my exhibition in October, you saw that my research so far demonstrates distinct power dynamics and gendered norms in Ghana's Central Region that can affect how farmers access resources and education for adapting to climate change. This recent trip provided an opportunity for me to explore and address this further, while giving something back to the communities that have been involved in my research.
Over six weeks spent in Ghana's Central Region during March and April, I teamed up with Prof. Simon Mariwah, Dr Martin Bosompem, and Nana Afia Karikari from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) to deliver education on climate change adaptation to 107 men and women farmers across three rural communities. We held one workshop in each community with the aim of getting participants to learn about climate change processes and adaptation, to educate the research team on their own experiences, and to deliberate and plan adaptation strategies for now and in the future.
Storytelling sessions facilitated a co-learning process in which facilitators shared stories that included educational messages on climate change processes and adaptation. In return, participants shared stories of their own and discussed their experiences with climate change and challenges for adaptation. Overall these sessions offered a space in which participants felt comfortable to confront challenges, share information, encourage and support one another, and in some cases, discuss and contest dominant power narratives and gendered dynamics that they felt were inhibiting their opportunities for engaging in adaptive actions.
A visual drawing activity was also held in which participants could plan adaptation strategies for now and in the future. This activity saw participants discuss and deliberate challenges and opportunities, and address norms that they saw as either empowering or disempowering for adaptation. We observed a focus on unity and community togetherness in these activities, and saw gendered norms that can inhibit adaptive capacities being questioned and renegotiated, albeit at a hypothetical level.
Overall I am thrilled with the outcome of the workshops and aim to continue research in this area in the future.
I can't thank my team from UCC, and my partner Sam Watkins enough for their help and hard work during fieldwork. I would also like to thank my wonderful supervisors Prof. Petra Tschakert, Em. Prof. Lynette Abbott, Associate Prof. Fay Rola Rubzen, as well as Dr. Elias Asiama from the University of Ghana, and many local community members and leaders for their ongoing guidance and support during this project.