Accra, Ghana – Ahead of this year’s commemorations for Earth Day, U.S. Ambassador Virginia Palmer announced the winners of the U.S. Embassy’s ‘Capture the Change’ photo contest. With the aim of giving young Ghanaians an opportunity to show the effects of climate change on their own communities, the contest received more than 100 submissions from professional and amateur photographers. This initiative forms part of the U.S. government’s commitment to partnering with Ghana to tackle the climate crisis.
“These photos clearly show how young Ghanaians are experiencing our changing climate. I am really impressed by their creativity and optimism, as well as their emotional resolve to address the climate crisis,” said Ambassador Palmer, meeting the winners.
African nations are already experiencing some of the worst impacts of climate change. Changing climate patterns are affecting agricultural yields, while more frequent floods and droughts are threatening food security in the region and adding to migration pressures.
Tackling the climate crisis is a priority for the U.S. government. Since January 2021, the Biden Administration has invested in and plans to work with Congress to provide at least $1.1 billion to support African-led efforts to reinforce conservation, climate adaptation, and a just energy transition.
The three winners of the photo contest vividly illustrate these pressures, while also shedding the light of optimism for change to confront the climate crisis. The winning photos will be printed in the Daily Graphic on Friday, April 21, 2023. The Daily Graphic is the official media partner for this initiative. (See photos with original captions at bottom).
Stephen Ofori Amo was named the overall winner. His photo depicts a young child surrounded by the stark impacts of climate change, venting the frustrations of a generation yet seemingly ready to take action.
Enoch Anyane scored second place with his photo showing a solitary man, surrounded by forestry destruction – broken trees and timber waste – concentrating on planting a single sapling to fight deforestation.
Akrong Sylvester Senyo Kwame’s third place photo ‘The Lone Survivor’ powerfully depicts the contrasts of unpredictable rainfall with dry soil, while highlighting our shared role in caring for, nurturing, and restoring nature to address the climate crisis.
Each of the three winners will receive electronic equipment – a camera, laptop, or smartphone – to continue their journey in telling Ghana’s climate story. The top 15 submissions, including the three winners, are currently on display at the Embassy and will be shown at partner institutions for the rest of the year.
All submissions were pre-screened to ensure compliance with the rules of the contest: all photos had to be taken in Ghana during 2023, depicting the effects of climate change and Ghanaians’ innovative adaptation approaches. Fifteen photos were shorted listed with the help of six judges, including celebrated Ghanaian photographer Yaw Pare. The top 15 images were posted on social media to assist the panel of judges in determining the top five images, from which they selected the ultimate winners. As a photography contest, judges weighted photographic quality, relevance of the photo to the theme, storytelling, and the submission’s individual caption.
Find all shortlisted photos on our Flickr page.
First Place, Stephen Ofori Amo: “Ghana has faced dark moments when human actions have led to the destruction of forests and threatened livelihoods. However, a promising era of light and hope has now dawned, with the younger generation of Ghana leading the efforts to restore and replenish our green landscape. It is important to continue planting trees as a means of protecting our forests and mitigating climate change.”
Second Place, Enoch Anyane: “From death springs new life, as one tree falls, another takes root. The simple act of planting a seed can change the world. Let’s nurture our planet, sow the seeds of a greener future and stop cutting down trees indiscriminately.” This picture was captured in Ensonyameye, which is located near Agogo in the Ashanti Akim North district of the Ashanti region. The forest in this district used to have a forest with three layers of tree canopy, but it has now been reduced to a grassland due to human activities such as bush burning and cutting down of trees. Unfortunately, even the few remaining trees are also being cut down. The purpose of taking this photo was to convey a message that it is possible to restore the forest.
Third Place, Sylvester Senyo Kwame Akrong: ”‘The Lone Survivor’ Ghana’s climate today has become unpredictable, especially the rainfall pattern. This change in the rainfall pattern coupled with deforestation has destroyed many farms and species of plants. The plant in the palms of the Ghanaian in this picture represents ‘the lone survivor’. In the face of the irregular rainfall pattern the country faces, this plant stands strong hoping for rainfall tomorrow to blossom. The soil upon which it stands is divided into two; the wet soil and the dry soil. This symbolizes the irregular rainfall pattern Ghana experiences. In the background, one could see pieces of charcoal which symbolize the end product of deforestation in our forests and the dried sandy soil in the background symbolizes little to no rainfall in a season where it is supposed to be raining. Therefore, we as humans must come together to help save ‘the lone survivors’ in our forests and communities by planting trees to replace those that have been destroyed by human activities. Regulating small scale mining in our natural reserves will help prevent miners from cutting down more trees. Both young and old must sensitize their communities to save our climate.”