Tag: climate crisis

Photo of Amina Idan Paul

Ecolo à Djibouti: Citizen action at the heart of the ecological transition

How Ecolo à Djibouti came into being

Some passions are difficult to articulate. They might make us happy, help us to bring comfort to others, and strengthen our bonds. As for me, I willingly inherited my passions from my father.

My father has been a teacher for most of his career. Passionate about education, he has always championed reading. My brothers, sisters and I spent our childhood immersed in a world of fairies, monsters, and adventures. As children, we would gather together before our afternoon nap – book in hand – to read. It was a moment of shared experience that, over many years, became a family ritual.

As a huge fan of Nicolas Hulot, Yann Arthus Bertrand and the National Geographic, my father also had a great love for nature, animals, and the great outdoors. So I got into the habit of watching documentaries with him; on the management of wildlife parks, the depths of the oceans, the rescue of Kenya’s last giraffes, how man lived side by side with large carnivores, the melting glaciers, the future of the forests, the impact of globalisation on our environment… So many documentaries which filled us with wonder, took us on journeys, explained complicated subjects in very simple ways, but above all ensured that we had a great time together as a family.

It was a passion which was passed on to us gently over time – never forced on us. Thanks to my family, my passion for literature and my interest in environmental issues have become part of my life. When the time came for me to choose my own profession it was therefore natural for me to become an engineer, specialising in energy and sustainable development. It is a job that has opened my eyes to many subjects such as sustainable development or renewable energies, and above all has reinforced my interest in ecology.

Today, this subject is an integral part of my life, even more so now that I have children of my own. I am trying, in my own small ways, to be more environmentally responsible in my behaviour. My desire to share my journey and all my thoughts around it gave birth to the idea for my blog, Ecolo à Djibouti.

There is a sense in Djibouti, and throughout Africa, that environmental conversations are confined to small circles, held in a rarefied air, and don’t reach the wider population. The idea behind the blog was therefore to reach the general public in a clear and simple way, and raise the awareness of one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century: how do we encourage respect for the environment? From information on sustainable development to tips on reducing waste, Ecolo à Djibouti aims to be easy to read and accessible for everyone. The most important thing is to provide reliable information to citizens of all ages. To arouse, perhaps, their curiosity and ecological conscience.

A collective movement begins with the individual

Ecology is an awareness of what surrounds us, of the fragility of the world we live in, and the urgent need to take care of it. Sharing information, therefore, becomes an important component to both educate and raise awareness of how to bring about real change in people’s perception of the environment. However, that unfortunately isn’t enough. In truth, an environmental awareness and ecological understanding cannot solely be based on the knowledge that life on planet earth is fragile. It must be accompanied by a change in the behavior of the whole society.

“We know that climate change is serious, but there is nothing we can do about it.”

It is futile for us to say we can do nothing to protect the environment because others are causing more damage. We have to act. Now. I’m convinced that we need to stop waiting for change to come from the outside, and instead start thinking about what we can do today. There is no such thing as small actions. Every action counts, and it all builds towards us reducing our impact on the environment. These small gestures, when put together, can make a big difference.

The movement in Djibouti was born as more and more people who were also sensitive to ecology and nature protection gradually expressed their desire to join the actions outlined in the blog. The ethos of my blog is to both unite and mobilise everyone with a stake in society. It encourages the emergence of collective action. It is a movement that also seeks to raise the profile of the work our fellow citizens are doing already. By reading the blog, people discover the numerous green initiatives launched in Djibouti every day, and the work being done to promote sustainable development. This gives us the opportunity to support them, be inspired by them, and to amplify their impact.

I think we must also pay special attention to young people, who are the key actors in tomorrow’s ecological transition. Environmental education has a great role to play in helping young people adopt eco-responsible behaviour now and work to preserve their environment. I regularly volunteer to give lessons in Djibouti high schools, an initiative we hope to expand to more schools throughout the movement. With this kind of training and education we can enable the young people to change both hearts and minds in the long term.

Making the voice of Africa, and Africans, heard

In Djibouti, as in the rest of Africa, citizen actions for the environment are being initiated and slowly implemented. They frequently come up against limits and difficulties which hinders their effectiveness; lack of legitimacy, of coordination and visibility, difficulty in extending projects. Yet they remain essential insofar as the ecological transition requires a collective response from all parties; governments, the private sector, civil society and the citizens themselves. It is therefore vital in African states that citizen participation is integrated into the framework of the public decision-making process if initiatives are to have a meaningful environmental impact.

In Africa, citizen actions will have a significant impact in raising public awareness. Too few people are currently aware of the environmental issues already affecting the continent and threatening its inhabitants. Many Africans, for example, know about the devastating forest fires in the Amazon, but few know about the millions of hectares of forest disappearing each year in the Congo Basin. With better access to information, people will be able to reclaim and better preserve their natural resources.

Yet if little space is given to the discussion of environmental issues by governments at home in Africa, it is worse on the international stage where Africa and the most affected indigenous communities are being ignored. These vulnerable populations, who are on the frontline of the climate crisis, rarely make headlines around the world. In August 2021, the Western media was focused on flooding in Southern Germany and Belgium, while the deadly floods in the Niger received little coverage.

This lack of coverage extends further, to the visibility of African activists who struggle to find a platform to express themselves. This is not for their lack of initiatives to tackle global warming. Rather, African voices carry less weight at global environmental summits. The media treatment of the young Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate is the perfect example. Almost two years after she was first cropped out a photo with Greta Thunberg, Nakate was once again cropped out of a photo with the Swedish activist at COP26. The erasure of Africa in the climate debate is part of a systemic conversation that frames the climate crisis as a “white people’s problem” and consistently devalues the voice of Black people.

But who is already amplifying their voices in their own countries?

As well as being excluded from the global media, African activists are less represented in global warming debates because they face more barriers to participation than their peers. There is limited funding, a lack of accreditation and, above all, a lack of support from their home countries – all of which limit the participation of young people most exposed to the impact of the climate crisis. African nations often lack the capacity to negotiate on an equal footing with their partners in the Global North. What can they do?

First and foremost it is about empowering citizens with all the necessary tools to understand and act in favour of their environment. The policies and actions of the government have to rely on citizen engagement in order to enact the ecological transition. Then, they will be better placed to demand climate justice from countries in the Global North who have not yet honoured their pledges in the Paris climate agreement. They may even be able to influence environmental policy decision making on the international stage.

Will this be enough to change the playing field? One thing is for certain; if we don’t try, we won’t succeed!

Photo of Amina Idan PaulAmina Idan Paul is an Engineer in energy and sustainable development for the Ministry of Energy in charge of Natural Resources in Djibouti. Her work consists in the design and management of innovative solutions to reduce energy consumption. That led her to work on projects related to wind power, photovoltaics and biomass.

Very sensitive to ecology, Amina is an environmental activist, a blogger, and the founder of an environmental movement called Ecolo à Djibouti. Through these initiatives, she wants to raise awareness about environmental issues and the importance of changing our attitude towards nature.

In 2021, she was appointed as an Earth Champion, charged with leading the way in the construction of Africa by IGAD-ICPAC.

I collected two testimonials for this project. The first is from a friend’s father, who used to spend his summer vacations in a little village named Dahomey, a few kilometres from Casablanca in Morocco.

He told me about his childhood home and its beautiful ocean view. Today, the rising sea levels are a threat to this house.

Not far from Dahomey is another village named Bouznika. While taking pictures of the ocean, I met a fisherman who told me about the seafood shortage, and about when times were better.

On this side of the village, the tide was dropping, leaving behind only waste.

Based on a true story is a portrait of a house full of memories, in danger.

Photo of Yasmine HatimiYasmine Hatimi (b. 1986 Casablanca) works as a photographer in Casablanca. In 2004, she left  Casablanca for Madrid to pursue degrees in cinematography and photography. After nine years  she returned to Morocco with the intention of rediscovering her country through her  photographic work.

An eternal dreamer, her work lies between melancholy and poetry, and seeks to transmit an  atmosphere inspired by her internal universe. Her latest work focuses on young Moroccan masculinity, which she approaches with a certain dreamlike romanticism.

Her work has been shown at festivals and venues including Photo España, Festival photo Saint  Germain, Alliance Française de SaPi, Musée Mohamed VI (Rabat). Her photoraphs have been featured in magazines and newspapers such as El Pais, Mille World,  Konbini, Nataal, Float photo Magazine and CNN Arabica .

Yasmine is part of the Koz Collective, a collective of four Moroccan visual artists working on  long term projects and sharing a passion for storytelling. Koz, meaning 4 in Amazigh, is an obvious pun that highlights the very essence of the members’ visual work, which, from documentary to fiction stand for a deeply rooted and keen urge of making sense of current events.

Winter Bloom (Al Layali Essoud الليالي السود  in Arabic) refers to that period stated in the Berber calendar from the 14th of January to the 2nd of February during which vegetation awakens from its hibernation state and starts blooming entering a new cycle, just like us humans go through emotional turmoil or sleeplessness before rising again and blossoming.


Winter Bloom began as a journey, a discovery, of the production process of nature. The Berber community used to refer to the agrarian calendar for their annual plantings, as the natural cycles had a significant impact on their food production.


While exploring the streets of Tunis in search of florist stores, I had the opportunity to talk about the “lyalli essoud“. I was taught that “a flower has a dream to bloom”. However, climate change is impacting this natural process, as in a warmer season, flowers bloom faster, and they also shed their natural color and smell.


Florists have this instinctive knowledge, inherited from the agrarian calendar, which was lost over time. It seems that people have forgotten how to live in accordance with their environment.


Throughout this work, I have found myself on the path of people working according to these forgotten cycles. They are instinctively aware of the adverse effects of climate change without being actively involved in the current awareness of this issue.


Souheila Ghorbel (1992) is a photographer who lives and works in Tunis, Tunisia.

Better known as Madame Ghorbelle, she can be described as an intuitive photomaker. She started photographing her friends using disposable cameras. Her eye then drifted to other subjects, and fed on the poetry of her surroundings, and her love for capturing moments has since grown significantly.

Souheila had her first solo show, Winter Bloom, in April 2021 in Tunis, Tunisia. An eponymous book was released through Local Groupe, an independent publishing house.

Recently, the artist took part in two group shows: Daily Cat Essen curated by Antwan Horfee in Gallery Ruttkowski 67 in Paris as well as Building Blocks at B7L9 in Tunis.

Her work appeared in the photobook edited by Estelle Marois, A Tunisian Tale alongside Tunisian artists and photographers.

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How often do you think about the textiles that are used in the outfits we wear everyday to cover our bodies?


Why exactly are we using these materials? Do we understand how they’re affecting our environment? Why are we relying on harmful fibres when textile technology is so advanced?


Alternatives exist, but there are manufacturers with too much control and too much money at stake. They don’t want to close their factories, so they keep doing what makes them money and in turn limit our choices. We are left to choose between what is affordable and what is good for the environment.


I am interested in the transformation of materials, and time. In the effect of our waste, especially our waste from fashion. In how we can rethink, reconsider and reuse what we have around us to create new ways of weaving…

Photo of Maha AlasakerMaha Alasaker is a visual artist based in Kuwait. She is a 2014 graduate from the International Center of Photography.

Through her artwork, Maha tries to gain a deeper understanding of herself while attempting to engage issues of culture and identity. Her curiosity centers around how a woman’s upbringing affects identity and self-worth.

Maha’s projects have been displayed in numerous exhibitions in New York City and London, as well as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait. Magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Marie Claire and Rolling Stone have featured her work.

In 2019, Maha published her first photo book, “Women of Kuwait”, which was then acquired by the Getty Research Institute and The Thomas J. Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
A barren tree in Damascus which appears to be burning from the inside
Photo: Unknown

Right over middle. Left over right. Right over left. Nine years of age, a little girl sat in my shadow, braiding her hair.

In the morning, she would stop by and pull the bobble off to show off her brown waves, but in the evening, to make her mom proud, she would gather the locks back and trap them in a tight braid. “Tidy hair, tidy mind,” her mom often said.

Eleven years of age, she would awake every morning to a fallen strand. The waves turned lank… and in my shadow today, the girl forever sleeps.

Are they mesmerized?

They take pictures and say it’s for the world to see. An olive tree burning on the inside. Mesmerizing.

But hasn’t the world seen the flames devour millions of my sisters along Syria’s coast, in its north, and in its south? Why open their eyes now when, for years, my roots have been feeding on diluted blood, my leaves have been inhaling toxic fumes, and my sunshine has been contaminated with radiation.

Are they mesmerized?

I burn for all the generations that won’t be born… for the life that will cease on this land. And I hold the whole world accountable.

They count the bombs, the fatalities, the casualties, the dollars, the wheat fields… and they speak of reconstruction – can they reconstruct the air? The water? The skies? The soil?

Can they reconstruct life?

They speak of cultural heritage, of the infrastructure, of the gas and the oil. They speak of the power,

of the roads, of livestock… but can this ever exist on a perished land?

Are they mesmerized?

They think the bombs were dropped on Syria alone. No. They’re in the skies… in the air… in their lungs, in their eyes… in all the coming generations. Have they thought to count the lives that won’t have a chance to live here… or anywhere else perhaps?

Are they mesmerized?

They won’t be when the waters rage and devour their homes… when the crops are scarce for all, when hearts are fickle, and when cities are walled.

They’re mesmerized now, but tomorrow, when they seek shelter, they’ll remember that I am shelter… they’ll come to realize there is no shelter when shelter is raging.

Are they mesmerized?

Has my picture made the frontpage? Has it gone viral? Has it won them ‘likes’ and ‘comments?’ Have they ‘liked’ and ‘shared’ it and written poetry and shed tears? Have they likened me to all the Syrians? To their society, to their hearts, to their land?

But have they thought of tomorrow?

Yes, a new day, and my picture is archived… but tomorrow is born of today, and today is born of yesterday.

They want power, oil, land… but have they forgotten it’s one land? If one garden withers, the next follows… and the next, and the next, and the next – until they live on a blazing ball.

I burn on the inside… and so does Mother. Are they mesmerized?

They set all my sisters on fire. They said, “Let it burn; it’s only Syria.” But those fumes travel in the air… into their lungs and into their eyes and into their bloodstream and into their hearts.

It’s not only Syria, it’s Earth… it’s their waters, its their skies.

All the chemicals dropped here will travel across the planet, and their children, like the Syrian girl who sleeps here, will lose their beautiful locks… and I hold the whole world accountable for this.

I burn on the inside… and so will all of them, but then it might be too late. Are they mesmerized?

They dropped their bombs in Syria, in Libya, in Tunisia, in Iraq, in Sudan, in Yemen… all for what? They say for the future generations… but will there be any riches and land left for them?

If anything, the future generations will curse them. Are they mesmerized?

Has Syria’s war been entertaining? Has it been the horn of plenty? Have they been profiting from all the destruction, displacement and death?

Let those idiots be mesmerized.

They wage wars over scarce resources, heedless their violence breeds nothing but further scarcity. Why not tend the land before it’s scorched? Why not look after trees before they’re ablaze, and then their fruit would be plentiful.

They wage wars on foreign land. Have they considered the carbon bootprint that shows no mercy to any land?

Let them be mesmerized.

Photo of Anan Tello
Photo: Susie Lawrence

Anan Tello is a Syrian journalist and playwright. She has an MA in Writing for Performance from the University of Leeds and is now doing a master’s in International Journalism at the same university. Her current creative practice focuses primarily on the Syrian cultural blend, the displacement experience, and attitudes towards the Syrian diaspora.



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Photo of Linda Mohamed

There was once an olive tree.

It sat at the top of the hill, among rows of sisters and brothers, silent, under the scorching sun.

Before there was fire, the fertile grove burst with joy. The harvesting seasons – gatherings of promises. The children climbed up its arms, their innocent palms pressed firmly into the bark. The mothers picked its fruit with callous fingers. A nativity scene.

There was once an olive tree. A construction site for a theme park is all that remains.




There was once a clean river.

It ran placidly through the Jordan Valley, through the Al-Auja village and the Wadi Auja spring. On summer evenings it was a golden river.

Before there was poison, the people of the village bathed in its waters. Echoes of laughter remained well after sunset, imprints of an embrace forever reflected in its surface. A stream of bliss.

There was once a river. Decaying cartons of American breakfast cereal is all that remains.




There was once a barley field.

A ten-hectare saffron ocean stretching outside the doors of Burin. A tender mother to the villagers – a family of ten, and then a family of nine, and one of seven, and another, and another.

Before there was concrete, the wind rustled through the spikes, a lullaby for those residing nearby. The assurance of comfort through the seasons.

There was once a barley field. Miles of barbed wire is all that remains.




There was once the Dead Sea.

A stretch of static liquid, a basin of jades. At its sides, all around, pink rocks. They stood tall against the sky, ethereal.

Before there was plastic, its banks were sacred. The women emerged from its waters with patterns of salt on their tanned skin, smiles on their dry lips.

There was once the Dead Sea. A members-only infinity pool is all that remains.



This is all that remains.

Photo of Linda MohamedLinda Mohamed is an Italian-Palestinian artist living in London. She holds a Joint BA in Journalism & Creative Writing and Politics from The University of Strathclyde. Before starting her current role in trade publishing, she worked across creative industries in journalism, magazine writing, podcasting and radio. In 2019, she hosted a creative writing workshop at the Dardishi Arab Arts Festival in Glasgow.





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Newspaper-style obituary for a ringed seal pup called Sloppy.
Newspaper-style obituary for a ringed seal pup called Sloppy.
Artwork: Nada Elkalaawy

Photo of Nada Elkalaawy

Nada Elkalaawy (b. Alexandria,1995) is an Egyptian-born London-based artist. Her practice is informed by her personal history dealing with loss, traces of memory and fiction. She predominantly works in painting, but often incorporates drawing, animation, and tapestry in conversation with the painterly medium. She received her MFA in Painting from the Slade School of Fine Art (2018) and her BA in Fine Art from Kingston University (2016). Her solo shows include “Twofold” at Galerie DuflonRacz, Bern and “Watching Grass Grow” (online) with Gypsum gallery, Cairo (2021). Her work has been shown in several group exhibitions including Southwark Park Galleries, London; Kunsthalle am Hamburger Platz, Berlin; KINO DER KUNST, Munich; Shubbak Festival, London (2020); MASS Alexandria, Alexandria; Sharjah Art Gallery, Cairo; Medrar, Cairo (2019); Gypsum, Cairo; Rich Mix, London (2018); Nahim Isaias Museum, Guayaquil; The Refugees Museum, Thessaloniki; The Crypt Gallery, London (2017) and The Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Alexandria (2016). She took part in the MASS Alexandria Studio Programme, Alexandria (2018) and will be participating in residencies at L’appartement 22, Rabat and Montresso Art Foundation, Marrakech (2022). She is currently an artist-in-residence at PROGR, Bern with Pro Helvetia. Elkalaawy has been shortlisted for the Dentons Art Prize and the Sarabande Emerging Art fund. She is one of five founding members of the artist group “K-oh-llective”, recipient of Mophradat’s Self-Organizations grant (2020), which aims to facilitate opportunities and collective conversations around art practices in Egypt and the Arab world.

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Photo of DUBAIS/Nadia Buyse

It’s “safe” to say we are living in a climate crisis… Why do I feel like my proximity to the solution is so far away? Why do I feel guilty? How can I be responsible when the same forces that marginalised people of the Global Majority also created structures where we are all reliant on hydrocarbon production to maintain socio-economic structures… particularly those of us from, or with connections to, the Middle East and North Africa? Also, WHY CAN’T I BUY A CUCUMBER NOT WRAPPED IN PLASTIC?


It’s “safe” to say we are living in a climate crisis… How do we protect our earth? How do we protect ourselves? How do we embody/care for that fear/anxiety/anger/sadness? How do we express that we, the people of the Global Majority, are intimidated by the “unbearable whiteness of green” which thinks “locally” and doesn’t speak for the native homes destroyed by colonial enterprise, war, and oppression.


It’s “safe” to say that we are living in a climate crisis… It’s not a question anymore. In 2018, I made a score book entitled “How to DIE/DIY” as a guide to create strategies for how we can approach our own inevitable mortality. With a verbal prompt and a visual landscape I frankensteined together from books left near dumpsters or bought for less than a quid at the charity shop, I offer provocations to the audience to create their own symphonies, arias, monologues, punk bands, etc.


I encourage you, dear, to respond/react/embody from the script I offer you… at the top of your lungs or from the bottom of your soul, use this invitation to express your feelings and your own proximity to crisis.


Thank you for being here.


[xoxo] DUBAIS

Photo of DUBAIS/Nadia Buyse
Photo: Devaki Jones

DUBAIS is a perpetually-changing concept band from visual artist, cultural activist, and musician Nadia Buyse. From absurd synth covers, to guitar ballads about dating the devil , to bedroom pop songs about murdering your lover, Nadia’s music jumps from genre to genre, being tied together by a DIY aesthetic and video art that spans over installation, performance, visual albums, experimental pop operas, etc. Although DUBAIS operates like a band, it’s actually a vehicle for conceptual work and cultural activism in which Nadia uses the tropes of pop music to examine Diasporic migration, neo-liberal dystopias, emotional incapacitations, consumer technologies, hybrid identities, intersectional feminism, and transnational communities. DUBAIS has released music, published text, taught a multitude of workshops, lectured, exhibited work, and performed internationally in a variety of spaces and places ranging from Conflict resolution Peace camps in Central Asia to dOCUMENTA (13).

Nadia is also currently in the punk band snoozers, a community artist at ONCA, and a part time tutor/ lecturer at BIMM in London.

Instagram: @DUBAIS

Bandcamp: DUBAIS / snoozers


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Photo of Farah Gabdon

(Click on the poem above to continue reading)


Written in reaction to the drought crisis that has plagued my home country on and off for the past 10 years, I was moved by the images coming out of Somalia and left feeling frustrated with the world’s silence and inaction in the face of climate change.

Photo of Farah Gabdon

Farah Gabdon is a performance poet, writer and English teacher from London, by way of Somalia. With a degree in Creative Writing, she has captivated audiences with her writing and performance poetry across London and Europe.




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Three young boys jumping in and swimming around the water in an oasis.
Three young boys jumping in and swimming around the water in an oasis.
Photo: M’Hammed Kilito
Landscape of an oasis facing desertification, where the sand is encroaching on formerly green palm forests
Photo: M’hammed Kilito
A burned car abandoned in an oasis facing desertification
Photo: M’Hammed Kilito

“Hooked to paradise” is an ongoing and long-term photographic series highlighting the complex and multidimensional issues of oasis degradation in Morocco and its impact on its inhabitants.


Desertification, recurrent droughts and fires, changes in oasis agricultural practices, urban migration and a sharp drop in the water table are among the imminent threats to the existence of oases.

Photo of M'hammed Kilito
Photo: Vladimir Gheorghiu

Morrocan photographer M’hammed Kilito focuses on capturing narratives that are embedded in understanding the relationship between his collaborators and their environments, by covering issues related to cultural identity, the sociology of work and climate change.

In 2021, M’hammed was selected by Ateliers Medicis to take part in the national photographic commission of Regards du Grand Paris. In 2020, M’hammed co-founded KOZ, a collective of four Moroccan visual artists working on long term projects and sharing a passion for storytelling. The same year, he was designated by the British Journal of Photography among the 18 best emerging photographers from across the globe to watch, was selected as a 6×6 Global Talent by World Press Photo, became a National Geographic Explorer, received The Photography Prize of the Fondation des Treilles and won the Prize for The Contemporary African Photography.

His work has been shown at festivals and venues including Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah), Tate Modern (London), PhotoESPAÑA Festival (Madrid), National Museum of Photography (Rabat), Photo Vogue Festival (Milan) and Breda Photo Festival (Breda). His photographs have been featured in magazines and newspapers such as The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The British Journal of Photography, Monopol, L’Express and El Pais.

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