Introducing “Tales of Change from Kwale Coast”

Hi there this is Liz Drury O’Neill here with Chris Cheupe, together we are part of the FoRel project that’s based in Kenya, Sweden and Mozambique. 

We can introduce ourselves first before we introduce the project- Chris you want to go first 

Thank you very much, Liz. My name is Christopher Cheupe I am affiliated to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) Kenya, working on this project called for FoRel. And we are going to tell you stories, very beautiful stories from the work that we have been doing in Msambweni, welcome!

And I’m Liz, a postdoc at the Stockholm Resilience Centre which is the administering organization for this project. I work on FoRel supporting the project in whatever way is needed and also on another project based in Zanzibar looking at marine protected areas.

Chris & Liz meet to record this intro, from Stockholm & Mombassa #NovicePodcasters

This FoRel project is about understanding and exploring people’s daily practises and relationships in the changing tropical coastlines of the western indian ocean. One of the major changes that coastal groups face is obviously climate change, so the project takes a special interest in the impacts and challenges it presents. An important part of FoRel is using forum theatre, so this is a type of participatory theatre created to get the audience involved and empower them. This project wants to use such theatre in Kenya and Mozambique in the hope it can boost people’s abilities to act together in dealing with the different changes the climate and their social systems present to them.

So that would be the main focus of forel, but there is a lot of work needed to get to the theatre performances themselves, which take place in and are even performed by and with the coastal communities of Kenya and Mozambique. So over the last 2 years Forel has been carrying out interviews and group discussions with actors of different types, like fish traders, food vendors, tourist operators, fishers, community leaders, retailers etc. in different villages in Kwale County in Kenya and Inhaca Island in Mozambique. With the information from these methods the scripts of the theatre have been designed and we have been able to get to know more about their lives- specifically what changes people have experienced, their hopes and expectations for the future, how they go about their daily practices. 

Chris has been leading this work for the two years, would you like to give a sense of how its been and any reflections? 

Yeah, thank you very much. As Liz has talked, I’ve been leading this project in Kenya, in fact, I’ve been the main guy, and i’ve been working closely with the community, during data collection, I’ve worked on the on the data, transcribing it. And I’ve been involved in coding. So I have some reflection based on the work, from data connection, till the analysis. Now, when you look at doing data collection, we had a very interactive platform with respondents or the participants, whereby they were very willing and ready to contribute to the project through sharing out their views or perception with regard to the matters, the subject. So we had a very, very interactive time. Participants were willing to share information. The guides (leaders) of the community were also cooperating, because it was a project that the community themselves liked and they were ready to work, to work with us so that we could have a common goal. The community were happy when we introduced to them about the forum theater. And since they love acting, and throughout, they have been willing to listen to information, which have been coming from the performance, it can be, for example, a short movie or a theater performance. So they really liked that. And they asked us to, to involve them when the scripts are ready, so that they themselves can do the performance and have a chance to, to share out their problems in a better way. Because, themselves they’re the ones who have been experiencing the problem. So they will be, they’ll have a chance to share it to the bigger world. So, after the community gave us their information, we went ahead and transcribed, we did some coding and everything which was coming out was really really the touch of the community. And thereafter, we managed to develop some scripts based on the stories that have been saved by the community. And from those stories now, they are the ones that are we are going to share them with you. And I hope you are going to enjoy listening to them. Because they are the stories from the ground. The story from the people themselves. They have not been diluted in one way or another. So hope you will be enjoy.  Thank you

Thanks Chris, so as Chris was saying, The stories of this storytelling series we are introducing you to today are based on the interviews and discussions done with about 70, mainly Digo participants in Kwale County Kenya.

Chris do you want to introduce shortly the Digo to us

Okay, Digo, one of the Mijikenda subgroup communities in Kenya, Mijikenda is a Swahili word, which means nine tribes, nine homesteads and it consists of nine sub-tribes that include the Giriama community, the Kauma, the Chonyi, the Jibana, the Kambe, the Ribe, the Rabai, the Duruma and Digo. There are seven tribes, sub tribes, they are found in Kilifi County, while the two other sub tribes, that is Diigo and Duruma, are found in Kwale County. Now, the Digo community, the majority of them profess to the Islamic faith, they are Muslim. And in terms of the place they reside, especially the Msambweni area, they are dominant there. Most of the Digo, they are bilingual. They speak Swahili, and they also speak the local language called the Chidigo.

Thanks Chris. Great, So just to give some more information on these stories that we will tell, they were put together based on the transcripts from the focus groups and the interviews, which were translated from Kiswahili to English by Chris, to be qualitatively coded and analysed. So I try to use his direct translations of people’s words and not break apart sentences or text blocks, but put the stories together from them. So I basically have been combining different participants words on the same or similar topic to create a story. I also have created context or named the characters as they talk or interact in the situation I put them in. Making sure everything is anonymous and not traceable to the real people, that Chris worked with. 

But just to give my motivation for these stories, as Chris already mentioned his,- well I thought it would a cool thing to do as in this way we can hear directly from people’s experiences of climate, environmental and coastal changes in East Africa in a more engaging way than scientific articles or interviews. Also by highlighting a different group of characters or character in each story we can bring more of a diverse understanding of the impacts of different social and ecological changes to light, beyond that of fishermen or farmermen. I also feel these stories based on the interviews and discussions prioritise the voices of those that are and will be the most impacted by climate change. Also I’m just super bored of zoom and powerpoint. So I thought this would be more fun, to create stories from the very rich data Chris has created for us. Chris any final words’? 

Yeah, this is a great initiative. And it’s a new style or a technique, whereby we are going to present our data in a simpler way rather than a complex and difficult way. We are aiming at reaching the last person that could get this information in right way, in an inappropriate way so that they can absorb it and utilize the information for their self development. As you can see, this perspective, we are going to tell you the stories the way they are. And we believe that the people who are not much well informed, they will have an avenue or a space whereby they could get this information so that they can utilize them. So for this approach, I believe we are going to reach a wider and bigger audience and we believe that they are going to listen and to enjoy, the stories that we are going to tell them. Thank you Liz

Thank so much for listening, we’ll see you next time with some of the stories, from all of us here at FoRel- Kwaheri!

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lizdruryoneill

Liz is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist with training in both the natural, social and behavioural sciences. Through qualitative and quantitative methods in conjunction with many years field-based research, her work essentially focuses on fisheries, seafood trade and markets in low-income countries, from a human wellbeing perspective. Her research covers: value chain dynamics, trade and food security, fishing behaviour/decision-making, market processes, social relations and coastal livelihood strategies, MPAs, Interventions. Through her professional career she has researched coastal fisheries in Ghana, Tanzania, Moçambique and the Philippines.

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