Website shows real life impact of desertification

A collection of stories and testimonies of how climate change affects individual lives in Ethiopia and Sudan have been compiled and published online.

NGO Panos has launched Desert Voices: a journalism and oral testimony project to show what the long term impact of desertification is like in this African region.

Keren Ghitis, the project coordinator for Desert Voices, said: “One of the main aims of the Desert Voices project was to increase public understanding and awareness of the impact of desertification. To do this properly, means hearing the voices and stories of those most affected by it.”

The personal accounts are narrated in first person by men and women living in Africa – specifically Sudan and Ethiopia – where climate change has taken a toll on the way people live their lives, from the way they farm to sheer survival.

The launch of Desert Voices coincided with a World Day to Combat Desertification earlier this week.

The idea was to raise awareness of the issue by publishing the new collection of personal accounts from Sudan and Ethiopia to highlight the wide-ranging consequences of desertification – from migration for work and conflict over resources, to changes in traditions and women’s roles.

All interviews for Desert Voices were recorded and transcribed word-for-word, speaking with local people allowing them to speak in their local language and speak in settings where they felt relaxed and able to share different aspects of their lives and backgrounds.

A Panos statement said: “The views and experiences of people living in desert areas have often been neglected by policymakers, and the issue itself has received little media coverage.

“To address this, Panos London worked with local print and photographic journalists – alongside community development workers to gather the interviews. A number of feature articles will [also] be published in national newspapers, a selection of which have been translated into English and are also available online.”

Desert Voices can be seen at

Dana Gornitzki

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