In Samoa, indigenous peoples use videos to show climate change damage

13 May 2010

Indigenous peoples in Samoa are producing their own videos to voice the impacts of climate change on their habitat.  After representatives of eight villages learned film-making techniques in a series of workshops sponsored by the UNDP-Global Environment Facility (GEF) initiative, they interviewed fellow community members to show the world how the extreme weather and the encroaching sea, for example, have been forcing them to change their lifestyles.  The video also shows how these eight communities are using UNDP-GEF grants to help them adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“Participatory videos and photo stories with narrations have become a powerful tool for development, particularly in remote rural villages and indigenous communities,” said biodiversity expert Terence Hay-Edie, working with the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme. “In addition to showing the climate change damages, the indigenous people in Samoa were also keen on capturing their traditional, oral culture in the participatory video, which overcomes language or literacy barriers.”

‘Participatory video’ is the term used when beneficiaries –indigenous peoples, members of rural communities and fishers, to name a few–are put in charge of the film-making process.  These videos are a way to build a bridge between poor communities and policy-makers, helping place vulnerable groups in charge of their own development and the decisions that affect their lives.

The video production experience in Samoa brought together men and women of different ages to create a film that was screened at the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit in December 2009. Now the video is being shared online and will also be featured during the 4th Global Environment Facility Assembly in Uruguay at the end of May 2010.

“The tool will also be important in influencing people-led climate change adaptation strategies, plans and policy making processes,” said Charles Nyandiga, who coordinates UNDP’s Community Based Adaptation (CBA) initiatives. “The video supports climate resilience and grassroots actions for policy change.  These products are used to ensure that governments and development agencies listen to the voices of local communities on how climate change is impacting their lives. “

Coping with changes

In the film, a woman remembered how she used to dry coconuts in a beach that no longer exists. One man said that the waves engulfed the majority of the houses of his village.  “The houses were uplifted and thrown from one side to another,” he recalled.

“The fish were once abundant, and the corals were healthy,” a villager added. “But now severe cyclones force the fish out deep into the ocean. It’s hard for people to find fish for their daily meals.”

In August 2009 the eight communities that were involved in the video production also received small grants from the UNDP-CBA project financed by the Global Environment Facility. The grants are enabling each community to devise and implement their own adaptation strategies to cope with climate change.

in the Samoan village of Lelepa, for example, the community decided to use the funds to improve the main road, which was deeply affected by the changing weather, and to move inland, “away from the coast and from natural hazards that put us at risk,” as one community leader explained.
   
In another village, members are using the grants to build a stone wall to divert the river and diminish hazards caused by extreme weather and flooding.

“We have observed what is happening globally with climate change,” said a woman from the Sotoalepai Village. “We live in insecurity, knowing that something else will happen. Maybe all these homes will be washed away by the next cyclone. We have fear and sadness in our hearts.”

UNDP and partners are also sponsoring a participatory video that shows how local communities in Morocco are coping with climate change. In the following months, another production will begin in Namibia.

Other resources:

Making of – a photo story: http://insightshare.org/resources/photostory/tofiga-o-pili-aau
UNDP and Community Based Adaptation: http://www.undp-adaptation.org/projects/websites/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=203