Somali journalists tackle climate change and environmental coverage

Marking World Press Freedom Day on Friday, Somali journalists continue to struggle to report on climate change and environmental issues in their country due to insecurity and dangers related to environmental journalism.

This year, Somalia marks the day when El Niño, a natural weather pattern associated with rising temperatures around the world, worsens the abnormally heavy rains hitting the central and southern regions of the country.

Farah Omar Nur, secretary general of the Federation of Somali Journalists, a Mogadishu-based agency that advocates for journalists’ rights and safety, said environmental journalism is not easy, especially in Somalia.

“In Somalia, journalists and media outlets do not always get adequate funding and training for environmental journalism, and those who try often face challenges, including insecurity and threats from armed groups,” Nur said. .

Nur said the small training provided to journalists to report on the environment has helped many understand the importance of reporting on the planet.

“With the help of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, we have been able to provide training to some journalists to report on environmental issues, but that is not enough,” Nur said.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, heavy rains have caused localized flooding affecting more than 120,000 people. The most affected areas are Jubaland, Hirshabelle and the southwestern states of Somalia.

Nur says another challenge is the logistics of reporting on environmental issues.

“The rain has caused flooding in many areas of Somalia, destroying roads, bridges and other important infrastructure. Therefore, it is not easy for a journalist to travel to remote rural areas,” Nur said. “In addition, armed clan militias and the militant group Al Shabab, which are no friends of independent journalists, have a huge presence in many areas.”

On World Press Freedom Day, the United Nations in Somalia highlighted the importance of the work Somali journalists do in reporting on “the climate challenges facing their country” and encouraged greater coverage.

“Somalia is on the front lines of climate change, and the climate crisis affects the lives of millions of Somalis, especially the most vulnerable. Much more needs to be done to raise awareness about all aspects of the environmental crisis, and journalism is indispensable for this purpose,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Catriona Laing.

“For Somalia to achieve its goals of stability and sustainable development, journalists need to report accurately, timely and comprehensively on environmental issues and their consequences, as well as possible solutions,” he said.

The UN General Assembly established World Press Freedom Day in 1993. This year’s theme is “A press for the planet: journalism in the face of the environmental crisis.” It is dedicated to the importance of journalism and freedom of expression in the context of the current global environmental crisis.

Its objective is to highlight the important role that the press, journalism, access and dissemination of information play in ensuring a sustainable future.

A new report released by UNESCO on May 3 warns of rising violence and intimidation against journalists reporting on the environment and climate disruptions.

The report says that around 749 journalists or media outlets reporting on environmental issues have been attacked in the last 15 years, and online disinformation has increased dramatically in this period.

UNESCO calls for greater support for environmental journalists and better governance of digital platforms.