Ghana, like many other African countries, faces severe risks posed by climate change. These risks are being exacerbated by the pre-existing environmental and developmental challenges in the country such as poor waste management and sanitation, poor planning, water pollution, and many more. Climate action has not been prioritized and solutions to these challenges have been sluggish and in some cases, non-existent. We need more than facts and figures to promote climate action and create awareness about climate change. According to a report, from Climate Foresight, we need to create a story to help us capture the full attention and understanding of the audience. Hence storytelling plays an integral role in promoting climate action and finding solutions to the climate crisis.
Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) in an effort to increase youth participation in climate action and adaptation, partnered with Earthbeat to roll out the Earthbeat Project; a global initiative aimed at engaging young people worldwide to develop their digital and storytelling skills to help advance the global conversation on tackling climate change and environmental emergencies. The project is facilitated by Youth4Planet and is supported by several United Nations agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The project is being undertaken in the form of a workshop where participants are trained to use their smartphones to develop videos under various themes that tell stories about the climate crisis. The project forms part of the series of events leading up to COP-26 in Glasgow, United Kingdom (UK). Following this aim, GAYO trained and built the capacity of 80 students from four universities in Ghana on using film to tell a story on climatic impact within their locality. GAYO as a grassroots organisation did not fail to capture its involvement in mobilizing young people to participate in an interactive physical workshop involving film, storytelling and journalism skills.
The project kicked off in Ghana in July in four public universities that form part of the GAYO Eco Club Chapters. Workshops were held on the campuses of the University of Ghana (Accra), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Kumasi), University of Cape-Coast (Cape-Coast) and University for Developmental Studies (Nyankpala) for members of the GAYO Eco-Club as well as other students who showed interest in participating in the project. GAYO Eco-clubs officially known as GAYO Eco-club Campus Chapters are campus clubs created by GAYO to spread awareness/ education, enhance interaction, leadership, health creation, self-discipline, self-confidence, and lastly provide a linkage between students and the community through community engagements. The Eco-club is currently made up of over 300 students from the University of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Cape-Coast and University for Developmental Studies.
The workshops involved 20 participants each from the four universities who were between the ages of 14-35. Participants were encouraged to bring their smartphones to the workshop to make a smartphone film to be submitted as part of the challenge.
The workshop ran for three days in each university; two consecutive days and the third day of the workshop occurring three weeks later. Story development transpired on the first day, technical skills on the second day and feedback/further development on the third day. Activities of the workshop included tasks such as making introduction videos and short videos about environmental issues of their choice, picture storytelling, group presentations, interviews, question and answer sessions among many others. Participants were also trained on how to use video editing apps (Filmarago for android users and Videoleap for iPhone users) to edit their videos.
During the workshop, students were made to create short videos which differed from one location to another. Most of the videos produced by the participants from the University of Cape-Coast expressed dissatisfaction with marine plastic pollution while participants from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology examined conflicts that exist in politics and the negative effects of mining in their videos. The Northern region of Ghana is characterized by drought, land degradation and gender inequality however, participants from the University of Developmental Studies surprisingly focused on plastic pollution in their videos. Participants from the University of Ghana located in the capital city of Ghana scrutinized a variety of issues including poor waste management, plastic pollution, poor urban planning, flooding, gender inequality and deforestation. By the end of all three workshops, 80 participants had been fully trained on using Filmorago or Videoleap on their smartphones to co-create ideas using the sustainable development goals, and how to upload their videos onto the global platform as part of the Earthbeat challenge. The deadline for submission of films is 19th September, 2021. Winners will have their films displayed in front of a global audience at the COP 26 climate meeting taking place in Glasgow, United Kingdom in November 2021. Participants were extremely delighted and expressed gratitude and satisfaction to GAYO and Youth4Planet for the opportunity to learn the skills of video storytelling to help contribute to climate awareness, action and adaptation in Ghana. We look forward to them teaching and sharing with their friends the skills they acquired from the workshop.
GAYO therefore calls on all African youth to follow the footsteps of the Ghanaian youth by taking advantage of the Earthbeat challenge to throw a spotlight on major socio-ecological challenges faced in their respective countries and communities by creating films using their smartphones and submitting their films onto the global platform. Together let us restore balance to nature!