Climate-aware photographer claims top prize for A&B in regional contest

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Sherrel Charles’ winning entry
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A striking snap showing a homemade irrigation system set up to combat the effects of drought earned Antigua and Barbuda top prize in a regional photography competition.

Sherrel Charles’ image won the Resilient Caribbean Cities Photo Competition 2022, which invited people across the Eastern Caribbean to share their perspectives on how the region is adapting to the impacts of climate change.

Charles’ image showed her young cousin using a simple but effective drip irrigation system that the photographer’s parents rigged up for their kitchen garden.

Amateur photographers submitted entries in three categories: People Power, Nature-Based Solutions, and Design and Technology.

Charles won the ‘People Power’ category as well as being named overall winner.

 “I believe the younger generation should be introduced to these concepts from an early age so that they know how serious climate change is, and how important it is to manage resources properly,” Charles said.

Runner-up and winner of the ‘Nature-Based Solutions’ category was Alexis Armande of Guadeloupe whose entry illustrated a project carried out by the municipality of Morne-à-l’Eau, which includes a wooden footbridge crossing the mangrove to Babin Beach.

Thanks to this project, the ecosystem is preserved and offers many amenities to visitors; people can enjoy mud baths, picnics and peaceful walks in nature.

“The Eastern Caribbean is often exposed to climate hazards, and this conservation measure enables nature to regenerate faster,” Armande said. “The nature-based solution depicted here considerably reduces the impacts likely to be caused by humans and helps to raise awareness of the importance of nature conservation.”

Runner-up and winner of the ‘Design and Technology’ category was Shanis Cato of St Vincent. Her photograph showed so-called ‘X-blocks’ in a newly-constructed sea wall, which are designed to absorb wave energy and reduce damage to the town.

“The sea wall is a relief for many of the townsfolk,” Cato said. “It protects the community that has been subjected to many floods, especially during the hurricane season.

“The coastal defence project, completed in 2021, not only protects against severe wave action affecting infrastructure, but also protects many as the sea – despite its beautiful nature – has claimed many souls.”

The organisations behind the competition are the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission, the University of the West Indies, the Université des Antilles, and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Adapt’Action programme.

The contest was part of a larger initiative by these partners to increase awareness, understanding and skills for strengthening adaptation to climate change in Eastern Caribbean cities.

Crispin d’Auvergne, Programme Director for Climate and Disaster Resilience at the OECS Commission, said, “It’s been amazing to see people’s motivation and imagination as they have shared their stories of resilience through this competition.

“People are showing how they’re finding enjoyment in nature, food and water security, and protection from natural hazards in some of the adaptation solutions shown in the photos.

“The competition shows that there is a lot of energy among citizens of the Eastern Caribbean for the climate change adaptation agenda.

“I trust this energy will grow and grow to meet our shared challenge.”

Elodie Afonso, AdaptAction Regional Program Coordinator for the Caribbean – Expertise France, added, “Throughout its work in the Eastern Caribbean countries, AdaptAction showed that these territories share many climate vulnerabilities and risks. Their impacts on cities have become increasingly clear.

“The projected increase in the number and intensity of extreme weather events, together with the lack of resilience and socio-economic fragility of urban centres in Latin America and the Caribbean region, exacerbates the risk of floods, landslides, droughts and other natural disasters.

“Climate change therefore poses a profound challenge to built environments. This photo competition was a way for our organisations to show that art can be an efficient way to raise awareness about the needs for adaptation to climate change.”

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