Reporting on the Effects of Climate Change on the World’s Most Vulnerable Communities

November 22, 2015
In the lead up to COP21, the United Nations’ historic climate talks in Paris, journalists uncover the effects on the poor and marginalized

Migration from the Marshall Islands to Oklahoma. Surging seas in Mozambique. Drought on Colombia’s remote La Guajira peninsula. These are some of the impacts we’re starting to see that are at least partially due to climate change. As the Earth’s average temperature increases, contributing to rising sea levels, warming oceans, and glacial retreat, it is the world’s poorest and most marginalized people that are the most vulnerable.

To bring these stories to light, Internews’ Earth Journalism Network (EJN), through its Human Dimensions of Climate Change project, selected thirty-two journalists from a highly competitive pool of applicants to highlight the disproportionate impacts of climate change on communities living on six continents, as well as hard-hit island nations.

In some places, rising sea levels and drying streams are forcing communities to make difficult choices. What happens when the ground underneath your feet starts to disappear under the ocean waves? Krista Langlois explored the challenges faced by Marshall Islands migrants who are struggling to maintain a sense of identity and culture in landlocked Oklahoma.

In Mozambique, Andrew Mambondiyani reported that surging ocean waters are forcing residents of Beira, its second largest city, to abandon their homes and livelihoods in search of higher ground. "It's almost rain season and I know what it means for us. It means a season of suffering; floods and storms are coming again," said 62-year-old Luciano Mangaeao. "No one is telling us what is happening but from the stories we hear on television, the future does not look good for us."

For the Wayuu people living in Colombia’s remote La Guajira peninsula, it’s not the waves but the desert that’s an encroaching threat. A multiyear drought has led to dehydration, malnutrition, and illness that has claimed the lives of many children. With the closest well contaminated by deadly bacteria, reporter Autumn Spanne joined villagers on their daily search for potable water, a journey that seems to get longer with each passing day.

In remote villages in India and Pakistan, floodwaters have displaced millions of people with devastating consequences. Mubina Akhtar traveled to Digheri Mishing in India’s Assam state where child trafficking is on the rise as families flee with their few belongings. According to local authorities, over 200,000 took shelter in relief camps after their homes and livelihoods were washed away.

Rina Saeed Khan reported from Pakistan’s mountainous Chitral district, where persistent rainfall and accelerated snow melt triggered floods that flattened the settlements below, killing scores of people and damaging vital infrastructure and agricultural land.

For more of these stories, follow EJN on Twitter and Facebook and stay tuned for the release of our upcoming e-magazine.

We have also partnered with World Environment Magazine to feature work from our grantees in a special COP21 edition publication.

Funding for this grant series was provided by the Oak Foundation.