Christian Aid to mix entertainment and climate change at Greenbelt

Christian Aid will entertain the crowds at this year's Greenbelt festival with a diverse programme that promises plenty of fun whilst challenging festival-goers on the issue of climate change.

Around 20,000 people of all ages will head to Cheltenham racecourse for the annual festival when it takes place over the bank holiday weekend, from August 22 to 25.

Christian Aid will give a taste of the huge challenges that climate change is already creating for farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by transforming fifteen square metres of lush green grass into a plot of sub-Saharan farmland.

Christian Aid's 'garden' will highlight the measures that farmers in the region are taking to stave off drought and floods and to make the most of their land. These include simple soil and water conservation techniques and the use of natural fertilisers, bio pesticides, and planning techniques to grow more crops that can feed the family.

"Youngsters can wander around the model garden, which will entrance children with its hands-on approach to providing information. But there's plenty to enjoy and learn in the garden for adults and specialists too," says Christian Aid's head of churches and education, Dionne Gravesande.

Christian Aid is at work in sub-Sahara Africa, helping poor families run small scale livestock breeding projects that help them diversify and increase their household income. This in turn makes it possible for their children to go to school and for the family to have access to vital medical care.

Alex James, farmer, broadcaster and former Blur band member, recently travelled to Burkina Faso with Christian Aid to see firsthand the conditions faced by those whose lives are tied to the land.

"As a working farmer, I was fascinated to see how farmers there are dealing with the challenges presented by climate change," he said.

Also on show from Christian Aid will be an exhibition of paintings by war artist John Keane highlighting life for children in Angola after 27 years of civil war finally came to an end in 2002.

Christian Aid is co-organising several worship sessions, including one with gospel singer and Christian broadcaster Muyiwa and his Riversongz band. Another session features the Iona Community's Wild Goose group.

Christian Aid will also host a number of talks, films and debates over Greenbelt, including a discussion with radical black theologian, academic and film-maker Robert Beckford on his film The Great African Scandal, which includes the story of rice farmers in Ghana and raises issues of trade justice.

Christian Aid's intercommunities specialist, Nigel Varndell, meanwhile will examine the contention 'Slavery is Biblical', and chair an interfaith panel discussion with representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam on the issue of climate change.

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