Nichole Sobecki definitely belongs to the category “Photographers who inspire me”. The US-American lady is an awarded photographer and filmmaker who has often attracted attention from all around the world with her work. Her photos from Somalia, in particular, and the stories she shares with regards to the drought that has lasted for many years in this country as well as the impacts of climate change have deeply moved me and given me new insights into this issue.
Somalia is a crisis-ridden country. Terror, conflicts, escape, hunger, dryness – probably the entire world associates these issues with Somalia. They were discussed on an international level mainly in connection with rogue political regimes and wars destroying the state and its society from within. Nichole Sobecki’s work shows us that primarily one factor that reaches beyond the impact of the country itself seriously contributes to the present-day situation in Somalia.
Somalia is one of those regions in the world that are most heavily affected by climate change. In a period of only one generation parts of the country have turned into desert and the societies that have been living there for many generations have become deprived of their basis of existence. Of course, national politics and conflicts have made a contribution to this issue. Environmental protection had a high priority before the regime change in 1991. Then, in times of unrest and strife, climate change, charcoal-consumption and the destruction of the forests as well as overfishing in Somalia’s waters have led to enormous environmental destructions.
In 2016, Sobecki traveled to an area affected by the droughts in the West of Somalia where she saw a group of women washing their clothes in the only water they were still able to find, a puddle on the roadside. She talked to the group and the women told her about dried out wells, about dying animals and all the recent challenges the people have to face due to the dryness that has lasted for some decades. In the moment she said farewell to the group and as the women were walking away, she took the picture that drew my attention to Nichole Sobeckie and her work. In my eyes it’s an incredibly beautiful, harmonious and intimate photo which moves me to tears – as I know the story behind it. The woman in the photo is about to walk back home. The color of her scarf merges with the field of cactus plants and the desert leading to her home. The scenery and the human-being become a unity and are interdependent. Once again this shows how important it is for mankind to take care of our planet.
On her website Nicole Sobecki writes that it is her goal to create photos and films that focus on paying respect to the lives of the people portrayed, showing their joys, their challenges and finally their humanity.
You can find out more about Nichole Sobecki on her website and on her Instagram account.
Images showing how Somalia has changed because of the impacts of climate change you can find in this report.