Pushed past coping: IIED animation captures destruction of climate change loss and damage in Sierra Leone

News, 15 March 2021
IIED launches a new animation that describes the catastrophic impacts of loss and damage caused by climate change in Sierra Leone, as narrated by UN climate negotiator Gabriel Kpaka.

IIED's latest animation about climate-related loss and damage in Sierra Leone is narrated by UN climate negotiator Gabriel Kpaka. Watch a version in Krio and also see behind the scenes (Illustration: The Like Minded/IIED)

A new animation from IIED – the second in a three-part series – relays the devastating loss and damage caused by climate change, experienced first-hand by people of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

In his own words, Gabriel Kpaka – a meteorologist and UN climate negotiator – describes a time in his youth when the high temperatures and humidity had been manageable, and the rains – while heavy – nourished the land. Agricultural production thrived.

But Kpaka explains how the loss and damage from climate change is escalating rapidly, and citizens of Freetown can no longer cope. The animation brings to life the reality of living in constant fear of mudslides and landslides destroying homes, or of contracting cholera or typhoid as drinking water is contaminated by floods. Torrential rain combined with more frequent and prolonged dry spells ruin once abundant harvests.

Crippling loss and irreparable damage have become part of everyday life for citizens of Sierra Leone.

In the two-minute clip, available in English and Sierra Leonean Krio, Kpaka urges national and international climate policymakers to recognise that loss and damage from climate change wrecks lives and livelihoods.  

He calls for urgent financial and technical support from governments across the world, particularly from the richest and biggest emitting nations, to help Sierra Leone and all the world’s least developed countries (LDCs). As Kpaka emphasises, the LDCs have done the least to cause the problem but their people suffer the harshest impacts.

 Animation of a woman picking vegetables

IIED's latest animation about climate-related loss and damage in Sierra Leone is narrated by UN climate negotiator Gabriel Kpaka (Illustration: The Like Minded/IIED)

IIED senior researcher Brianna Craft said: “Climate impacts cause profound and irreversible harm. Economic damage that can be repaired – at a cost – tends to get the most attention. The loss of human life is a terrible, irreparable loss caused by climate change. And there are others like the loss of human health, loss of territory, loss of biodiversity, loss of culture…

"This loss and damage is less understood. We wanted to create space for people living in the LDCs to talk about their experiences with the loss and damage caused by climate change.”

Additionally, in this short video we go behind the scenes with Kpaka where he explains more about the personal experiences that inspired the animation and shares his hopes for raising awareness about loss and damage far and wide. Kpaka also gives a written account of his experiences in a blog that runs alongside the animation.

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