EarthDay Event Explores Climate Pressure in North Africa and the Middle East // “A Siege of Salt and Sand” Film Screening

(Photo courtesy of Radhouane Addala)

A SIEGE OF SALT AND SAND – A documentary exploration of 21st century “climate chaos” in Tunisia 

Last month, Bonnections launched a new event series to spread the word about the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and bring together local and global actors and change makers. Our monthly “susty” event series will include film screenings, discussions, readings and other creative gatherings. The kick-off in March was a screening of the CodeGirlMovie for Women’s Day (SDG5, gender equality).

This year’s Earth Day (April 22) motto is “environmental & climate literacy”.

So, in April, in honor of Earth Day, we will to turn our eyes to North Africa and Syria to learn more about climate change induced land degradation.

Following a poetry reading by Mohamad Raffi, a poet and writer from Aleppo who now lives in Cologne, we are presenting “A Siege of Salt & Sand” , a documentary film about the effects of global warming in Tunisia (SDG13, climate action).

In 2013, Radhouane Addala and Samuel McNeil ventured across the country to interview, film and understand how climate change is impacting the population. Rad is a Tunisian freelance journalist and producer, who currently lives in Sweden.  He will join us via live stream for an after-screening discussion. 

Tunisia loses about 100,000 acres of land each year due to desertification and is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes climate change in its constitution.  

Filming the construction of a desert wall. (Photo: Radhouane Addala)

At the event, we also want to highlight the importance of good policy making and the work of the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification. The UNCCD secretariat is located in Bonn and has partnered this year with the World Future Council to identify and award policies that effectively combat desertification and land degradation.

“Desertification is a silent, invisible crisis that is destabilizing communities on a global scale,” says UNCCD Executive Secretary Monique Barbut in the press announcement.

Jos Lelieveld, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and Professor at the Cyprus Institute, believes that “the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy.”

In the after-screening discussion, we like to explore how climate change and land degradation is affecting countries in the MENA region and the interdependence of drought, poverty, conflict and migration.

A 2015 study  concluded that Syria’s record drought in 2006-2010 may have helped propel the 2011 uprising. According to the United Nations, the collapse in crop yields forced as many as 1.5 million Syrians to migrate to urban centers.

In 2010, Gary Nabhan (an American-Syrian author and expert on the agricultural traditions of arid lands ) wrote about how climate change was impacting pepper production in the Middle East. He noted: “The same climate-driven pressures are affecting the survival of the Halaby pepper and its traditional farmers near Aleppo, Syria. In the past three years, 160 Syrian farming villages have been abandoned near Aleppo as crop failures have forced over 200,000 rural Syrians to leave for the cities.”

A recipe for change and climate action (Photo: Wonderbag)

We also like to give you a taste of Aleppo pepper and Tunesian cuisine and introduce a wonderful “recipe for change”: the Wonderbag, a simple but revolutionary, non-electric portable slow cooker made in South Africa.

The event is free of charge. If you like, you can bring finger food or beverages. Everyone is warmly welcome!

WHAT: Earth Day Film Screening, Poetry Reading, Teach-In & Food Tasting
WHEN: April 20, 7 – 10 pm (film screeing starts around 8 pm)

BonnLAB, Zingsheimstr. 2, 53225 Bonn-Beuel


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here