Welcome to the blog of the Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences at the University of Northampton. This will keep you up to date with both student and staff activities.

The Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences includes staff with interests in biological sciences, conservation, ecology, environmental sciences, environmental statistics, geography and waste management. We offer a range of degree programmes and have a number of postgraduate research students. For more information about studying with us please visit http://www.northampton.ac.uk/.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Game helps Geography students understand the impacts of climate change

We welcomed Frank Sudlow from the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD) to our 'Geography and Development' session last week and he led a simulation exercise on the effects of climate change on poor families from around the Global South.
Students worked in 'family' groups to produce materials for market
Students were divided into six teams of five, each representing a family producing a commodity whose livelihood is being affected by climate change. The families included the Chenge growing coffee in Tanzania affected by increasingly irregular rainfall, the Mendez family from Ecuador suffering from the effects of deforestation and the Chukwa family from Niger producing goat hides. The problem they faced was desertification.
Goods produced by the families
Families took their bundles of coffee, latex, goat hides or other commodities to a market over which they had no control and had to accept whatever the market decided to give them. Poor produce was rejected. As the game proceeded, families often fell below the poverty line and all production stopped until they had completed a set task. At regular intervals a radio message was broadcast impacting on the livelihoods of a particular family.
A big queue at the marketplace
The price paid for each good varied throughout the game, according to different climate conditions

A spreadsheet helped to keep a tally of how families were managing and, after several ‘years’, a plenary session helped us to understand the lessons learned. It was clear that climate change is proving to be a major problem for poor families living in the Global South and is seriously limiting their livelihood development. Only one family, through very careful organisation and a certain amount of ‘luck’ managed to progress out of poverty. Most ended up poorer than when they started.

  The quality of goods produced was checked by Dr Kevin Cook and Frank Sudlow
Kevin keeps a close eye on the figures

Everyone agreed that this was an excellent way to be made to think about some of the major effects of climate change.  Thanks Frank for a stimulating and enjoyable session. We hope Frank will be able to join us again next year.
Frank provides a summary at the end of the session

Dr Kevin Cook, Senior Lecturer in Geography

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