A Climate for Conflict

8 Aug 2017 2017 CONTAINER

“A Climate for Conflict” tells the story of how climate change and environmental destruction are transforming Somalia, and the impossible choices people are forced to make to survive.

Featuring: Nichole Sobecki (with reporting by Laura Heaton)

Presented by

The GroundTruth Project

Curated by

Nichole Sobecki






This is the story of the mother who didn’t flee civil war but fled the drought. The fisherman pushed into piracy by empty nets in a depleted, lawless sea. The young farmer who felt the pull of the militant group Al Shabab when his crops failed for multiple seasons.

Climate change and environmental degradation are transforming Somalia, pushing people to desperate choices and violence. Somalis live and die depending on the amount of rain that falls each year. For generations, they have survived extreme conditions, relying on their traditions and community. A quarter century of civil war tested those ties and challenged their resiliency. But rain falls less now, and the temperatures are rising.

“With this weather pattern, Somalia or Somalis will not survive,” said Fatima Jibrell, an environmental activist. “Maybe the land, a piece of desert called ‘Somalia,’ will exist on the map of the world, but Somalis cannot survive.”

Through photography, rare archival imagery and a documentary short, “A Climate for Conflict” explores the environmental roots of conflict in Somalia, and the ways its woes spill beyond its place on the map.


Nichole Sobecki is a photographer and filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya, and is represented internationally by Panos Pictures. She began her career in Turkey, Lebanon and Syria, focusing on regional issues related to identity, conflict and human rights, before leading Agence France-Presse’s East Africa video bureau from 2012-2015. Nichole has completed assignments throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia for Foreign Policy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic, and her work has been exhibited internationally. She is a Climate Change Reporting Fellow with the GroundTruth Project.

Laura Heaton is a writer and journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her writing in East Africa over the past decade has focused primarily on conflict, human rights and women’s experiences in war. “The Watson Files,” her feature story for Foreign Policy Magazine (May/June 2017), retraces the steps of a British scientist working in Somalia in the 1980s, to see how the environment has changed after a quarter century of war. Laura’s reporting has appeared in The New York Times, National Public Radio, Newsweek and National Geographic. She is a Climate Change Reporting Fellow with the GroundTruth Project.


The GroundTruth Project is an independent, nonprofit media organization supporting a new generation of journalists to tell the most important stories of their generation. GroundTruth fellowships center on issues of social justice that matter for an increasingly interconnected world, including human rights, freedom of expression, emerging democracies, the environment, religious affairs and global health. “A Climate for Conflict” is part of GroundTruth’s immersive series “Living Proof: The Human Toll of Climate Change” that explores how the price of global warming is rising in unexpected, human ways. In the past year, GroundTruth has been recognized with a National Edward R. Murrow Award, an Alfred I. DuPont-Colombia University Award and an Overseas Press Club Award.

Prospekt Mira is a nonprofit organization comprised of creative academics and communications professionals who are passionate about sustainable development. Using research, we help organizations communicate what their projects are doing to help communities and individuals adapt to climate change around the world.