Laura Heaton


Laura Heaton is a Nairobi-based reporter.
Articles by Laura Heaton
Garowe, Somalia: Abdulkadir Hasan Farah is a former pirate who now makes a living driving a taxi in Garowe. Growing up in the seaside community of Eyl, Abdulkadir followed his father into the fishing business. But the rise in illegal fishing made it increasingly difficult to earn a living. Twice foreign crews destroyed Abdulkadir’s nets, which were costly to replace. Broke and livid, he and some friends started taking guns out on their fishing trips to await foreign trawlers to hijack.

Somali pirates are some of the world’s most infamous villains, immortalized by Hollywood and feared by ships traversing the waters off the Horn of Africa. But when these gangs first emerged they were just fishermen, made desperate by the destruction of their seas by illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. International patrol vessels now guard Somalia's coastline, keeping the pirates at bay but doing nothing to address the return of illegal fishing activity by Asian and European companies. Until the root causes of piracy are addressed this threat will linger, waiting to reclaim its waters. (Photo by Nichole Sobecki)
Garowe, Somalia: Abdulkadir Hasan Farah is a former pirate who now makes a living driving a taxi in Garowe. Growing up in the seaside community of Eyl, Abdulkadir followed his father into the fishing business. But the rise in illegal fishing made it increasingly difficult to earn a living. Twice foreign crews destroyed Abdulkadir’s nets, which were costly to replace. Broke and livid, he and some friends started taking guns out on their fishing trips to await foreign trawlers to hijack. Somali pirates are some of the world’s most infamous villains, immortalized by Hollywood and feared by ships traversing the waters off the Horn of Africa. But when these gangs first emerged they were just fishermen, made desperate by the destruction of their seas by illegal fishing and toxic waste dumping. International patrol vessels now guard Somalia's coastline, keeping the pirates at bay but doing nothing to address the return of illegal fishing activity by Asian and European companies. Until the root causes of piracy are addressed this threat will linger, waiting to reclaim its waters. (Photo by Nichole Sobecki)
Outside Geerisa, Somalia: An armed policeman stands beside a riverbank swelled from a flash flood the night before that left several people dead. As Somalia gets hotter and drier, it is also more susceptible to deadly flash floods when eventual rain hits the parched earth.

To be Somali used to mean to roam the land with your camels and others herds, surviving on their milk and meat and making home wherever the rains fell. Three out of four Somalis depend on the land to survive, either by herding or farming. Yet the rains are becoming less frequent and drought the norm. Land is degraded out of desperation, and people’s historic resilience is broken down. As access to water and pasture shrink, so do people’s options. The result is a growing wave of violence that swells with each short rain, dry well and failed crop. Men with guns are as common here as dusty roads, and as the fragile ties linking communities together break down the choice becomes clear: fight or die. (Photo by Nichole Sobecki)
Outside Geerisa, Somalia: An armed policeman stands beside a riverbank swelled from a flash flood the night before that left several people dead. As Somalia gets hotter and drier, it is also more susceptible to deadly flash floods when eventual rain hits the parched earth. To be Somali used to mean to roam the land with your camels and others herds, surviving on their milk and meat and making home wherever the rains fell. Three out of four Somalis depend on the land to survive, either by herding or farming. Yet the rains are becoming less frequent and drought the norm. Land is degraded out of desperation, and people’s historic resilience is broken down. As access to water and pasture shrink, so do people’s options. The result is a growing wave of violence that swells with each short rain, dry well and failed crop. Men with guns are as common here as dusty roads, and as the fragile ties linking communities together break down the choice becomes clear: fight or die. (Photo by Nichole Sobecki)
Sarah Elliott
Sarah Elliott
John Moore/Getty Images
John Moore/Getty Images
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