Journalism students tell the untold stories of climate change

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Stirling journalism students are helping to tell the untold stories of the devastating impact of climate change thanks to a new international initiative.

‘Dear Green Place’ is a project which brings together UK media students with young people living in the Global South to highlight their experiences of living through extreme climate events. The partnerships – made thanks to the cooperation of organisations including the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, the African Leadership Academy and the Global Centre for Education – have led to a number of Stirling students’ stories being published  by Scottish national newspaper, The Herald.

The first of those, Cyclone Idai's devastation reveals brutal impact of climate emergency, was written by 4th year students Kaitlin Wraight and Morven Mackay with Panashe Noel Jonga, a Zimbabwean student at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa. It reports on the deadly tropical storm Cyclone Idai and the life-changing impact it had on Panashe’s Uncle and his community.

Panashe Noel Jonga

Panashe Noel Jonga

Kaitlin said: “Climate change is the biggest issue the world is facing just now and is currently firmly in the spotlight due to COP26 in Glasgow. In the UK, I don’t think we really know or understand the extent of the impact climate change is having – I hadn’t even heard of Cyclone Idai before talking to Panashe.

“Devastating stories like his aren’t being told and I’m proud to have played a part in allowing Panashe’s to be heard.”

Morven, who is interested in pursuing a career in film after completing her studies, said: “We did a lot of research during this process, but we couldn’t have ever predicted or expected what came from the interview with Panashe’s Uncle. It was also a new experience to write with someone from a completely different background than me, and we learned a lot from Panashe, including about our own cultural and instilled biases.”

Cyclone Idai

Cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. It ripped through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar in March 2019, causing catastrophic damage and killing more than 1300 people. It’s thought to have displaced 16,000 families and directly affected a quarter of a million people.

Rocks over Chimanimani

The story marks the first national by-line for the pair, who are already working on their next report as part of ‘Dear Green Place’.

Kaitlin said: “We’re speaking to two activists from Peru and Nigeria, who are currently at COP in Glasgow, so I’m hoping we may get to interview them in person.”

Morven added: “There are a lot of interesting stories to come from the group, including a piece about wool farmers in Mongolia and locusts in Ethiopia – definitely stories that you wouldn’t normal see in the Scottish press.”

‘Dear Green Place’ was established by Huw Owen, as a personal project outside of his role as an external relations manager with the Disasters Emergency Committee in Scotland. As well as the University of Stirling, students from the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and  Cardiff are also participating.

Huw said: “Dear Green Place is a project devoted to sharing stories from the parts of the world where millions of lives are already being affected by the climate emergency.

“It presents a great opportunity for young journalists to put their learning in to action, to find out about other parts of the world and raise awareness of the huge issues facing the planet.”

Read more stories on climate change

The Herald also published the below stories written by University of Stirling students, as part of the Dear Green Place project:

Nauru is fighting an uphill climate battle by Tissarina Harris, Sophie McVinnie and Penny Hodgson.

Floods, drought and typhoid: The reality of the climate crisis in Lesotho by Hlalefang Lehana and Mairi Whittle.