Art exhibition highlights Nambian communities’ climate change challenges

One of the pictures from the area in Namibia that will be on display in the exhibition

One of the pictures from the area in Namibia that will be on display in the exhibition

04 August 2023

An Aberystwyth art exhibition will draw attention to the work of villages in Namibia to overcome the challenges of climate change later this month.

The photographs that will be on display at Gwesty Cymru from the 24 August until the end of September highlight the efforts of the Okondjatu community and neighbouring villages to restore their eco-systems and improve living standards.

Namibia is known for having the most arid climate in Sub-Saharan Africa, with erratic rainfalls and recurring droughts posing major challenges to local communities.

Bush encroachment, the overgrowth of grassland by woody species, is impacting arid savannah ecosystems around the globe, threatening their biodiversity and local communities’ livelihoods.

In Namibia alone, 45 million hectares of agricultural land is affected. The Otjozondjupa region, home to the Ovaherero people, is one of the worst affected. 

Researchers have worked with one of the conservation areas in the region that has an elected committee managing the forest and wildlife resources. Together with the academics, the community is trying to use the bush as a feed for livestock and other products.

Aberystwyth University has supported the effort with research grants organised by the Centre for International Development Research at Aberystwyth.

The pictures shown in the exhibition highlight the characters, wildlife and challenges faced by the community.

One of the organisers is Maria de la Puerta, a PhD student at Aberystwyth University who has been working in the area for over 7 years. As part of a University research project she has been looking at nutritional values of local bushes as well as their greenhouse emissions. She said:

“We’re aiming to use the power of art to raise awareness of the effects of climate change and bush encroachment, and the threats they pose onto local communities. But also, to draw attention to the local communities and the researchers working with them to overcome the challenges by using a range of innovative strategies and technologies. We also want to promote cooperation so we can work together on these and other issues affecting Namibia and Southern Africa.”

Aberystwyth University graduate Monika Fraczek took the exhibition photos on a trip to Namibia in her role as Omeva Consulting’s Chief Communications Officer. She said:

“I use my art to raise awareness and educate about critical issues such as food security, drought relief or climate change. I’m just passionate about people and their stories.”

The exhibition will be launched at 6pm on Thursday 24 August in Gwesty Cymru and includes a talk with the researchers.