Local Economy against Poverty

01/24/2017 inField news, Illustrate
Mobilizing populations through games and theater

In partnership with Laotian NGO DOKLAO, our Agrisud team in Laos carried out an original program in June 2016 to raise awareness of environment through games and theater. The objective is to mobilize local populations to the challenges of biodiversity and the preservation of the village forests they manage through their land-use planning.

This program has created a real enthusiasm among the populations, and many community projects have emerged for the preservation of the forest.

Mobilizing people to create an indispensable commitment

The FORAE project supports the development of agricultural and forestry activities in the mountains of northern Laos, in the district of Viengkham (Luang Prabang Province). The environmental awareness program stems from the fact that the transmission of information related to the project is not done properly (forest classification, role of each type of forest on the environment, reasons for its preservation, etc.).

Despite the work done with village committees, many people in the villages do not understand the value of the actions taken or the role they have to play. The rules and restrictions for preserving forests are not respected, and few of them are involved in reforestation activities.

Yet the project’s main interest is to mobilize local populations to become aware of the value of their environment (both from a natural and economic point of view) in order for them to self-manage it in a responsible way over the long term.

Multiple partners to mobilize populations

mobilier les populations par les jeux et le théâtre 2DOKLAO is a Laotian association specialized in training. She also works with young Laotian volunteers on community programs, especially in the field of the environment.

The partnership with this association made it possible to create activities related to the problems encountered by the FORAE project. The point is also to give the field technicians tools to mobilize the populations around the actions undertaken on the project. This awareness program would not have been possible without the support of the World Food Program, the financial partner of this initiative.

Mobilizing people means making them understand the value of preserving biodiversity and the forests around them. This understanding can be achieved by highlighting the direct link that unites them to their environment. Through this program, activities are carried out to explain how the forest is economically useful and the impact this has on their incomes and their daily lives.

Games and theater: relevant tools to mobilize populations

mobilier les populations par les jeux et le théâtre 4After a 10-day preparatory training with DOKLAO, the Volunteers and the technicians of the project conducted a 12-day tour in 10 villages of the FORAE project for awareness activities.

The different activities were welcomed with enthusiasm by both adults and children of school groups. All the activities were created to convey the messages on the preservation of the forest resources in a playful way adapted to each public.

One of the games is “Everything is connected”. This game “weaves” cotton bonds between participants to illustrate the interdependence of living beings and natural resources. “The marbles” is another game that, using logs, highlights the importance of responsibly and collectively managing non-timber forest products for a reasoned, equitable and sustainable collection.

Finally, plays performed in the evening bring together the whole family and stage animals that gently made fun of humans. These comical situations highlight how environmental damage affects not only animals but also the humans who depend on them.

Mobilizing populations to reconnect humans and forests

mobilier les populations par les jeux et le théâtre 3Mobilizing people to take ownership of their environment and managing it responsibly is not easy. Games and theater are a fun and original way of getting important messages to change behaviors.

Following this awareness tour, a real change of motivation and attitude is observed among ALL the community and not just the members of the village committee. It is illustrated, for example, by an increased mobilization for reforestation activities in degraded forests.

Until now, villagers in the district of Viengkham regarded nature as an available and unlimited space of resources. They have now established another relationship with the forest because they have understood its usefulness and the link that unites them.

FORAE: Forestry and Agroecology in the assembly area in Northern Laos