The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka
This project uses indigenous performance theatre to increase public engagement and awareness of the everyday realities of slum dwellers living with climate change in Dhaka.
This project uses indigenous performance theatre to increase public engagement and awareness of the everyday realities of low-income people living with climate change in Dhaka.
As part of her research on urban climate change resilience, Dr Joanne Jordan spent months in an informal settlement in Dhaka talking to over 600 people in their homes, work places, local teashops and on street corners to understand how climate change is linked to or creating problems in their ‘everyday’ lives and how they are trying to find solutions to those problems.
With the research complete, she teamed up with the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Dhaka to explore the findings through a ‘Pot Gan’, a traditional folk medium that combines melody, drama, pictures and dancing. The Pot Gan is not a static piece of theatre; it is an interactive event that challenges the audience to actively engage with the personal experiences of informal dwellers affected by climate change.
Performances of ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka’ have been seen by over 600 people in Dhaka, including: informal dwellers, policy makers, practitioners, academics, and the general public. Performances have taken place at:
- The 10th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change, Independent University Bangladesh, Dhaka (25 April 2016)
- British Council Bangladesh, Dhaka (28 April 2016)
- Within the informal settlement that provided the insights for the research in Dhaka (29 April 2016)
The panel were impressed by the strength of personal commitment animating the project and the powerful personal responses encouraged in the participants through the use of the Pot Gan theatrical mediumNCCPE Judges’ panel comment / 2016
To bring the stories from the Dhaka informal dwellers to an even larger international audience, the Pot Gan performances were filmed to produce a documentary exploring Dr Joanne Jordan’s findings on the everyday realities of climate change. The documentary ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change: A Story of One Piece of Land in Dhaka’ was produced and directed by Green Ink, a Dhaka based new media studio specialising in documentaries.
- Winner of the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Research in Film Awards 2017 – International Development Award: Mobilising Global Voices (Out of 200 applications).
- Winner of The University of Manchester Making a Difference Awards 2017 for outstanding public engagement initiative (Out of over 130 applications)
- Project was a 2016 finalist in a national public engagement competition run by the National Co-coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (Out of over 180 applications)
- Over 100,000 people have viewed the project documentary online since it was released in September 2016
- Three live Pot Gan performances in Dhaka were attended by over 600 people in Dhaka in April 2016, including: informal dwellers; policy makers; practitioners; academics; and the general public
- In a survey of the varied audiences who saw the live Pot Gan performance, 100% who responded agreed that performances like the Pot Gan are a useful way to build awareness on climate change. More than 80% said they had learned something new about climate change as a result of viewing the Pot Gan
- Accompanied by high-profile events, such as a public event on ‘The Lived Experience of Climate Change’ at Rich Mix London, attended by over 200 people (2 February 2017) and the premiere of the project documentary as part of Manchester Museum’s Climate Control exhibition (24 August 2016), attended by a capacity audience of 100 people.
- The Pot Gan was developed as part of a Master’s course unit on ‘Theatre for Development’ at the University of Dhaka, helping Bangladeshi students learn about crucial global issues that have a local impact
- The project materials have been used as teaching resources at the University of Manchester
- 6 newspaper or magazine articles (print and online) and 17 blogs have been written on the project
- Established new partnerships with organisations based in Bangladesh and the UK, including: University of Dhaka; Brick Lane Circle; Theatre of Debate; Tie-Dye Drama; Manchester Museum; Green Ink; Regent’s High School; Rich Mix; and the British Council Bangladesh.
The documentary – The lived experience of climate change
The Pot Gan performance
Audience viewpoint of the Pot Gan
- Reactions at the International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change
- Reactions at the British Council Bangladesh
- Reactions at Duaripara informal settlement
- Climate Change in Bangladesh (Dr Saleemul Huq, ICCCAD)
- Climate Change in Urban Areas (Dr David Satterthwaite, IIED)
- Climate Change Communication (Richard Lace, BBC Media Action)
Play booklet with script
- Project field site
- Dhaka Community Pot Gan performance
- #CBA10 Pot Gan performance
- British Council Pot Gan performance
- Documentary screening at the Manchester Museum
- Public event on 'The Lived Experience of Climate Change', Rich Mix London
Opinion article in Thomson Reuters Foundation News
Newspaper Article in Dhaka Tribune
Interview with AHRC
Blog on the Global Development Institute blog
- Joanne Jordan’s climate change documentary wins prestigious award
- Double success at the Making a Difference Awards
- Climate change research based on Dhaka slum showcased at Rich Mix London
- The Lived Experience of Climate Change shortlisted for national public engagement award
- Innovative new research reveals the lived experience of climate change in Dhaka through a Pot Gan Performance of ‘Jol-duari’
Interview in University of Manchester’s Addressing Global Inequalities
- The Manchester Museum's Climate Control exhibition (24 August 2016)
- Public event on ‘Climate Change and its impacts on Bangladesh’ Rich Mix, London (2 February 2017)
This work is being led by Dr Joanne Jordan. It is funded by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with an Environment and Sustainability Research Grant (Grant ESRG 6/15), the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Research in Film Award, and several grants from The University of Manchester, including: Faculty of Humanities Strategic Investment Research Fund, Social Responsibility Research Stimulation Fund, Research and Impact Stimulation Fund and Higher Education Innovation Fund: Eco-voucher award.