FJA 2020 Shortlist
Category: Excellence in Environmental Journalism
Belinda Goldsmith, Claudio Accheri (United Kingdom/ Italy)
Flight to the Future: One Land's Quest to Defuse a Climate 'Timebomb'
Thomson Reuters Foundation, news.trust.com
September 10, 2019
The original publication is available via the following link: https://news.trust.org/shorthand/flight-to-the-future/index.html
When Hawo Mohamed woke one morning to find about a dozen of her goats dead, she knew her life as a herder was coming to an end.
Raised in a remote village in coastal Somaliland, in northeast Africa, Mohamed remembers taking her family's goats to feed on green pasture flanked by a sprinkling of trees.
But in time the trees began to die, she said, and then, about eight years ago, seasonal rains grew much more erratic, seemingly worsening each year.
Little by little, her animals, starved of enough forage and water, grew weaker too.
"One day I went to collect the animals as usual and brought them home but the next morning 10 to 12 of them were dead," Mohamed recalled, sitting in the sand nursing her newborn son outside a corrugated iron shelter in the coastal city of Berbera.
Somaliland, a self-declared republic of 4 million people in the Horn of Africa, is one of the world's most vulnerable places to climate change. Poor and drought-hit, and without legal status as a country, it is struggling to adapt for the future.
As the Syria-sized republic battles worsening weather crises and growing migration within and out of the region, it is racing to find ways to stem a tide of climate migrants, keep people on ever-less-productive land and create new jobs for the unemployed.
In particular, soaring youth employment, as destitute families leave farming but find nothing else to do, is creating a social and political "timebomb" in a region already struggling with migration and extremism, Somaliland representatives warn.