Kenyans, Moroccan receive top awards for Africa photo contest

Nov 18, 2009

UNDP salutes heroes of the environment

New York — The winning photographs of an eco-themed photo contest focused on Africa feature environmentalists planting trees in a water catchment area in Kenya, Moroccan women turning plastic bags into handbags as part of a fair trade project, and a Kenyan couple planting a tree on their wedding day.

“By showing us what ordinary citizens of Africa are doing to tackle climate change, we see the extraordinary power of photographs to tell stories,” said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator. “These photographs will help carry the message to Copenhagen that the poorest and most vulnerable stand to lose the most from climate change, and must be part of any agreement.”

The "Picture This: Caring for the Earth" photo contest was organized earlier this year by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Olympus Corporation and the Agence France-Presse (AFP) Foundation, and aimed to profile ordinary people working to preserve the environment and reduce the effects of climate change in their communities.

The first prize winners are Jacob Otieno, a Kenyan newspaper photo editor, in the professional category; Faiza Hajji Wozniak, a social entrepreneur from Morocco, in the photo essay category and Simon Ndegwa, a Kenyan youth pastor in the amateur category. Tonight, Miss Clark will present the winners with their awards, which include a certificate of acknowledgement from UNDP, and digital cameras and camera equipment from Olympus Corporation. The winner of the professional category will receive a two-week internship at one of AFP’s bureaus in Africa. The second and third place winners are from Cameroon, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Senegal and South Africa, and will all receive digital cameras from Olympus.

Olympus provides extensive support to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a member of the United Nations Global Compact. This project is shining a spotlight on ordinary people’s actions, which when combined, demonstrate a massive commitment to preserving our world,” said Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, President of Olympus. “As private companies, and at an individual level, we all stand to lose if we do not engage in this movement.”

The contest was inspired by the upcoming 15th Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, which will witness a gathering of 15,000 officials from 192 countries.

“Climate change has no respect for borders, and so the media’s role in documenting how people in different parts of the world are coping with its effects is very important, as it can also inspire action in others,” said Robert Holloway, Director of the AFP Foundation. “We at the AFP Foundation are encouraged by the images produced in this contest, both by the professional and amateur photographers, and look forward to collaborating further with them.”

The photo contest jurors were Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai and four professional photojournalists, including Peter Magubane, one of South Africa’s most internationally acclaimed photographers, and John Isaac, Olympus Visionary photographer, and who also was a photojournalist with the United Nations for nearly 30 years.

Protecting the environment and working to mitigate the effects of climate change lie at the heart of UNDP’s mandate. We help developing countries adapt to climate change while reducing poverty through improving disaster coping methods, strengthening institutions and charting a low-carbon development path because climate change demands that we grow in a different way.

For more information on the winners and the photo contest, see:

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