Dignity under extremes
Turkana county, Kenya -- I went to the region to photograph effects of climate change on local communities in far-off Kenyan regions. I ended up documenting dignity.
We went to the Turkana region with the UN to cover stories of how climate change is affecting local communities and refugees there. There are two large refugee camps here, with people who have fled unrest in Somalia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is also home to the local Turkana people. And a place with extreme weather conditions.
The region has always been very hot, with very little rain. And the rain falls less and less every year. So a lack of water is one of the issues that these people have to deal with.
Another is the lack of infrastructure and help from the government. While Kenya’s economy is booming at the moment, there are huge differences between infrastructure and government services between the capital Nairobi and the rest of the country. In the north, the gap is particularly large, you can really feel it. The roads are very bad, the phone lines are bad, there is just no proper infrastructure. And in the middle of all this, you have extreme poverty and extreme weather.
So the people who live here are trying to bring attention to their part of the world, especially the attention of the government.
I was really surprised at the level of cooperation here, despite the tough conditions. The local communities are really working hard to make water pumps. Some of the communities make their living by making and selling coal. What I saw were a dignified people working very had in extreme conditions to make a living, have a proper life and create a better future tor them and their families. They have a strong link with their traditions.
That really made an impact on me. I suppose that it’s a general human condition that you can find all over the world -- people struggling to make a better future for their kids. I come from Spain and the reason why I ended up here is that the paper I was working for in Spain had layoffs and the work situation was not great, so I decided to come to this part of the world.
But in Spain, we had a strong infrastructure and help from the government. The government and institutions are more present in a country like Spain. In the Turkana region, they’re practically invisible.
The photo of a woman working her land really summed up the situation for me. She is a refugee, she left her country in really hard conditions and all she has is this small plot of land with some crops and she works it under very hard conditions because she wants the best for her and her family.
This blog was written with Yana Dlugy in Paris.