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.
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 brings attention to humanity’s fraught, intimate, and ultimately unbreakable connection to the natural world through her documentary photography.
Born in New York, she has lived in Nairobi for the past decade. In 2016, Sobecki began her body of work Where Our Land Was, which investigates the human consequences of significant environmental change in Somalia.
Sobecki’s photography has been recognized by the ASME Award, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights prize, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, Pictures of the Year, the One World Media Awards, and the Alexandra Boulat Award for Photojournalism, among others.
Her photography has been exhibited at the United Nations Headquarters and Photoville in New York City, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture in San Francisco, the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, the Nikola Rukaj Gallery in Toronto, and beyond.
Sobecki is represented internationally by the photo agency VII, and is a member of Women Photograph and Everyday Africa. She is currently exploring the vital role the Congo Basin plays in the ecological balance of our planet as a National Geographic Explorer.
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.
A Climate for Conflict
Curated by: Nichole Sobecki
LocationsView Location Details Download a detailed map of this location Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza
1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
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Climates in Conflict
From Afghanistan to Colombia and Somalia, environmental changes have dire implications for security and are harbingers of global risks to come. What’s being done to address these concerns? What more can be done? How can visual storytelling help?Learn More