Yasmin Bendaas (’13) and Climate Change in Algeria

Yasmin in Algeria“Thomson Reuters Foundation News recently picked up a story where I looked at how climate change is affecting rural sheepherding practices in Algeria. The mountain region where I completed interviews is not one dealing with desertification like areas a bit further south in Algeria that are confronted with an expanding Sahara Desert. It’s also not a region particularly hit by extreme weather conditions and isn’t on the coast, facing rising sea levels. I wanted to see if this place, seemingly insulated from threats of environmental changes, was still experiencing symptoms of climate change.

So many stories that we hear are in the extremes—massive hurricanes, rapidly melting ice caps, and deadly floods. But what about the gradual climate changes that add up over time in rural areas whose residents are tied to the land for their livelihoods? Through combining on-the-ground interviews with satellite data, I was able to pull together a holistic picture of what slow and steady rising temperatures and decreased rainfall mean for rural Algerian sheepherders.

This work was the basis for my master’s project in Science & Medical Journalism at UNC Chapel Hill where I was a Park Fellow. I actually applied to the program based on a recommendation from Professor Justin Catanoso, who continues to be my mentor. This particular article for Thomson Reuters Foundation also received much needed and helpful feedback during draft stages from Professor Phoebe Zerwick, who I consider a mentor and friend even though I graduated 4 years ago.

The journalism minor and incredible opportunities I had at Wake Forest, like a Student Fellowship through the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, set the foundation for graduate school in journalism and my pursuit of another journalistic project abroad. I’m grateful to have been able to still have my Wake Forest professors as people I can lean on for advice and support, and I continue to see ways that the journalism program at Wake has prepared me to tell science stories like this one.”

You can find Yasmin’s story for Thomson Reuters Foundation here