Witnessing climate stories of girls from the Sahara’s north gate
M’hamid El Ghizlane sits as the last oasis village in Morocco’s Drâa River Valley before the great expanse of the Sahara desert opens up. Local livelihoods face serious threats as temperatures reach the extreme, droughts intensify, and water sources vanish. Ancient cultures are disappearing as encroaching sand dunes swallow up the villages. Understanding the need for climate action, sound artist and composer Susie Ibarra has teamed up with Joudour Sahara, a local music nonprofit, to provide 15 girls ages 9 to 15 with resources to give voice to their experiences of this dramatic climate and its consequences. They are documenting traditional music styles at risk of disappearing, a farmer irrigating his land, a woman cooking a traditional couscous meal, and camels drinking, among other excursions. Ibarra and Joudour Sahara, in partnership with other international groups, are also interviewing family members, conservationists, farmers, camel herders, and others working to avert desertification of the once-lush oasis.