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Education through traditional stories

Adapt traditional stories/tales to help raise awareness of climate change, its impacts and ways to make the community more resilient

Photo of Karn Shah
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One of the problems with increasing the climate change resilience of communities - regardless of whether these are urban slums or other types of settlements - is the lack of awareness within the community of the various impacts of climate change on their daily lives and of how to react to these challenges. It can be very difficult to engage the community in facing challenges that may not be apparent in their day-to-day lives. For example, it is challenging to convince families to make their housing more flood resilient until after a flood event, when the need becomes more apparent. By this point, it is generally too late. Our idea is to use traditional stories, but add a focus on climate change impacts and ideas on how to adapt. Stories are a powerful tool - the stories that we hear in our childhood often stay with us for the rest of our lives. For example, the story of the Three Little Pigs and the big bad wolf is popular in many cultures. By adapting this fable, the wolf can be painted as "Climate Change", with the power to wreak havoc on houses and families. The pig who builds the house with the wolf in mind survives - an aspect of the story that could be used to communicate the importance of building housing that is resilient to climate change. This is just one example of how information on climate change and different adaptation methods can be disseminated in an interactive and community-focused manner.


The beneficiaries of this proposal are the community members. By raising awareness of the impacts of climate change on the community, whether that is related to sudden events such as floods or day-to-day challenges such as increased heat risk, overpopulation and food/water shortages, that community will be better prepared to face these challenges. This is also an effective way to present ideas on how the community could react to these challenges (comics on urban planning, urban gardening, etc).


It utilises the work that has been done to date by partner organisations on developing solutions in the fight against climate change. There are many excellent projects being implemented currently that deal with resilient infrastructure, urban planning, food security, etc. However, presenting these ideas in the form of various options in a "handbook" for practitioners - or communities - can sometimes fail to engage the end user. This idea harnesses the power of storytelling to enable the local organisations and institutions to transfer their knowledge to a wider audience, thus helping the community make itself better prepared for the future.


  • Yes, for one year or less


  • I do not have experience working in a sector related to my idea


  • Yes


We are a group of engineers, urban planners, hydrologists and scientists, keen to put our technical background and experience working in the developing world to good use.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Frank Thomalla

Hi Karn, this is a great idea and one I would very much like to contribute to. Many cultures indeed have rich traditional knowledge of different kinds of natural hazards like earthquakes, tsunamis, tropical cyclones, etc. - how to recognize the signs of an impending event and what to do in order to minimize risk to life, livelihood and personal belongings - that is transmitted from generation to generation, but is rarely considered in formal disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies. Through my 20 years of work experience in South and Southeast Asia I have gained a good understanding of the causes of social vulnerability and resilience to different kinds of hazards. I think this project could go some way in better understanding the role of culture in risk reduction and resilience building efforts. Through my organization ( and my professional network in Asia, I could help with all aspects of such a project - from identifying appropriate partners in eligible countries (e.g., Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand), to developing a good project design and implementing the activities in selected case studies, to showcasing the insights and outcomes of this work through a coordinated international communication strategy (e.g., through our online learning platform

Photo of Karn Shah

Hi Frank,

Thank you for your message. We're delighted to have you on board, as this is exactly the kind of support and network that this idea needs. I'll add you as a contributor to this idea, and let's work together through the next phases of the challenge to develop this idea further.