Photo: Kate Holt

“Climate Change is a phenomenon that can not be ignored. Raising awareness of the issue, and showing how the effects of a changing climate impact people’s lives, is essential to changing public opinion about the topic and forcing governments to take urgent action to reduce carbon emissions.

A warming planet is currently having a much greater impact in poorer countries, very often those that are not responsible for generating high emissions. As well as the science needed to explain what is happening, photos are essential in shaping opinion and driving change.

I have been working as a photographer for over 20 years in many of the countries most acutely impacted by extreme weather patterns as a result of global warming. Every year, more and more countries are having to deal with these events and the resilience of poorer families decreases annually.

In Somalia, for example, with every year that goes by with no rain, people’s herds of sheep and goats are reduced by adverse weather conditions, until they have nothing left. This forces them into makeshift camps where they become dependent on food aid. In Madagascar, rising sea levels are causing flooding in coastal communities resulting in increasing water-borne diseases because freshwater supplies get contaminated.

People often feel helpless when confronted by such huge issues. It is essential to also tell the positive stories which demonstrate how people are fighting back; and the impact that individual actions can have.

Tree and mangrove nurseries have sprung up in Madagascar and Somalia that allow communities to purchase to replant depleted mangrove swamps and forest, with previously stopped coastal sea levels rising. Mangroves also provide carbon sinks and are havens for a wide variety of different plants and animals. These initiatives prove that when people come together to find a solution, it is possible to reduce the impact of global warming.” — Kate Holt, Director of Arete Stories.

Photo: Kate Holt/ WaterAid UK / Arete. A young boy stands on a bridge in the evening light in the city of Morondavo in Madagascar. Despite being surrounded by water, and regular rainfall, 48 %of the population of Madagascar do not have access to clean water and 88% lack basic sanitation. Extensive flooding occurs annually in Morandavo due to depleted mangrove swamps, but communities are fighting back by replanting.

We asked several of our talented Arete Photographers to share photographs from their countries, highlighting the issues a changing climate is bringing to their communities. Some show the problem, others the solution.

Aaron Palabyab — Philippines

@aaronpalabyab

Aaron is a Philippines based filmmaker and photographer specialising in travel-oriented content and time-lapse photography. He started working with Arete last year.

These photos are from the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) in 2009, which caused never-before-seen flooding and damage in the Philippine capital region of Metro Manila. Several subdivisions were flooded and subsequently buried in mud, causing widespread destruction in the capital. Yet this level of flooding was nearly repeated last year during Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco), showing that the unprecedented is threatening to become the norm due to climate change”.

Gregory Escande — Mozambique

@photo_in_moz

Gregory Escande is a French-language teacher and photographer based in Maputo, Mozambique who has recently completed his first assignment for Arete.

Sometimes, you can see men walking and carrying a lot of 5 litre plastic bottles. They collect these bottles all around the city and neighbourhoods, and they then resell them in bulk to people who reuse them to make cubes of ice. The man in the photo has approximately 70 bottles, and he sells each for 5 meticais ($0.06)”.

In this photo, you can see Amelia, 60 years old, and she supports her entire family (children and grandchildren) by collecting cans or plastic for recycling. On her head, she has approximately $5 worth of recycling that she has collected”.

Massoud Hossaini — Afghanistan

@massoud151

Massoud is a photographer based in Kabul, Afghanistan and 2012 Pulitzer prize winner.

“I was born in the wrong place, Afghanistan; grow up in the wrong place, Iran; living and working in the wrong place, Kabul; let’s see what will happen”.

There are two shots of a window view of Kabul. One in the sunny morning around 11 AM. And the second in the afternoon, about 4 PM, which is when people start to use their coal or wood heaters. These, unfortunately, produce a lot of pollution”.

Kate Holt — USA & UK

@kateholtphoto

Kate is a US-based photographer who has worked extensively across Africa and Asia. Kate is the director of Arete and trustee of RE:ACT disaster response and the Royal Humane Society.

“Mongias ten year old daughter Sandra drinks water from the stream in Bekalalao Village, Madagascar. Mongia says “We collect water from the small lake. It’s not suitable for us but what can we do? We get belly ache a lot, so we have to go to the doctor. But then we come back again and drink the dirty water and the cycle is repeated. But what can we do? We always have belly ache and diarrhoea. We keep getting sick.”

Bekalalo is a very poor community and there is no clean water; the community is forced to collect water for both drinking and washing from stagnant ponds in the community where livestock also drink from”.

Karel Pinsloo — Kenya

@karelprinsloo

Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning African photographer. He works for many NGO’s and news organisations throughout Africa and is one of Arete’s main photographers.

I recently visited Turkana, Kenya, where UNICEF is providing safe water and energy through the construction of boreholes and solar panels. This provides much-needed water and renewable energy to a community where water has become increasingly scarce”.

Saiyna Bashir — Pakistan

@saiynabashirphoto

Saiyna is a photojournalist based in Pakistan, and a frequent contributor to the NY Times, Reuters, the Telegraph and others.

Forester, Adalat, holds a tree sapling in the field where out-of-work labourers due to the pandemic have now been hired by the government as ‘jungle workers’ in a reforestation initiative to plant 10-billion trees to deal with climate change threats on the outskirts of Peshawar”.

Below, Abu, who is out of school due to the pandemic, also works as a ‘jungle worker’ in the new tree planting initiative”.

Oluwaseun Oluwamuyiwa — Nigeria

@jomiphotography

Oluwaseun is a Nigerian born photojournalist and has been working with Arete for two years, with NGOs such as the World Food Programme.

“Climate change is staring us right in the face. With the consistent rise of human activities such as burning fossil fuels and wastes, we will need to do a better job in educating people about the hazard caused to the environment by engaging in such activities, especially in rural communities. This is a site in Adamawa State where waste is burned daily”.

Angelo Mendoza — Phillipines

@angelomendo

Angelo is a professional photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His work mainly revolves around travel, lifestyle, and adventure but also extends to documentary filmmaking and time-lapse photography.

I took this image last February, 2020, in Mangatarem, Pangasinan where I witnessed fire spreading across the mountain range. I’m uncertain how it started, but due to the heat and lack of trees, the dry grasslands allowed the fire to spread at an alarming rate. In the centre of the photograph, a tiny silhouette of an eagle can be seen flying over the burning land. In the Phillipines, as the severity of climate change increases caused by deforestation and other environmental problems, more and more animals lose their homes and struggle to thrive in the wild”.

Isak Amin — Somalia

@isak_amin

Isak is a Somali photographer who specialises in landscapes, nature, and travel photography. Isak has been working with Arete for many years for a range of UN agencies across East Africa.

I took this photo in 2016 during a severe drought which affected all areas of Somaliland, forcing rural dwellers to flee their homes on-mass and seek assistance in the cities; they had nothing to eat and no water, their livestock had gone”.

How great content and stories can help raise awareness about the effects of climate change and help people make informed decisions.

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ World Food Programme / Arete

Natural disasters are an increasing result of climate change, and the nature of our work means we often document the important work NGOs do to help those adversely affected. A recent example is a project we undertook for the World Food Programme in Pakistan with photographer Saiyna Bashir.

The Sindh Government announced a state of emergency on 25th of August, 2020, with 20 districts declared calamity-affected by an epidemic of flooding and landslides. The number of people impacted was estimated to be over 1 million, with 300,000 people in need of food assistance.

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ WFP/ Arete

In an attempt to raise awareness of the issue and the need for local and international support, we were tasked with documenting how the WFP is supporting people in rural Sindh with life-saving supplies

Photo: Saiyna Bashir/ WFP/ Arete

The result was broad coverage in the local and international press, including The Telegraph, Dawn, the Independent, and Next Blue; this led to many people donating money to support those they had read about and seen in the photos.

To talk to us about telling your climate change stories and how best to disseminate them to your digital audience, you can contact us here.

We source and manage local experts in photography, video, digital and written content from around the world to help you tell stories that make a difference. We can work with you in your office or in the field.


From the photographers: Climate change was originally published in Arete Stories on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.