Climate change and its different faces - The Afar pastoralists

In the opinion of development aid worker and photographer Armin Mösinger, the Afar people are indisputably climate victims. He wants to raise awareness for the situation of this vulnerable people and point out that our behaviour here in Europe has consequences even for regions which are so far away. He works for the international NGO SONNE-International that implements comprehensive health projects in this remote region in order to help the people who try to eke out a meagre living there. In 2019 he visited the Afar region for the first time and documented the tough life of the Afar pastoralists.

"People live on a barren lava soil literally like on the mars with no water sources anywhere and the temperature like in an oven. I've never been in such a harsh and inhospitable environment, but these people call it their home. The encounters with this forgotten community will forever stay in my memory and hopefully influence my actions in future because now I have seen the consequences of the climate change with my own eyes."

In North Ethiopia, the Afar pastoralists have lived out their history as self-sufficient herdsmen. The past 20 years have seen a progressive downturn in their livelihood because of the impacts of the climate change. Several drought disasters have hit the region and the people there have had to deal with many hardships in recent years. This region is one of the most severely affected by climate change in the world. The impact of climatic changes in the North Ethiopian Afar Region affects the Afar pastoralists badly and their traditional semi-nomadic way of life is no longer possible because of the changes to their environment.

The majority of the Afar pastoralists, who lived as shepherds, lost a large part of their flocks. These people are now forced to settle down in an inhospitable environment without any perspective. Around two million people are literally stranded in the desert and dependent on external help. This resulted in a famine in the following years, which led to numerous deaths - especially among children, young mothers and the elderly.

“We can no longer close our eyes to the consequences of climate change and combating climate change must be the top priority of our global agenda. It is time to take responsibility because we only have one world to take care of.”

Scientists are still debating how quickly the global climate is changing and what effects this has on the lives of people from different communities. It is an uncontested fact, however, that already millions of people around the world are suffering from the consequences of climatic changes, like heat waves, drought disasters, landslides, dust storms, forest fires, floods and water shortages. Climate change has many faces.

Photo Essay by: Armin Moesinger


Armin Moesinger is a development aid worker from Vienna, with a passion for portrait photography. He spent long periods working on oil fields in North Africa, and the encounter with poor people there changed his life completely. For 10 years he has been working for the Austrian aid organization SONNE-International, which implements social projects in India, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Bangladesh. He has had the opportunity to portray extraordinary people from remote regions and document their unusual lives. His photo stories have been published in various recognized newspapers and magazines. Read mor about him on the FPC Community page.

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