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“I come from a corner of the world where, when you tell the truth, it can cost you your security, your life.”
In a tiny republic located north of the equator in Western Africa, environmental journalism is risky business. Alo Lemou goes the extra mile to make a difference in his home country, Togo.
Hi Alo! Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am Alo Lemou, journalist and reporter. I do a little photography and radio. I write in French and English for national media such as iciLome.com, the most visited news site in Togo, and also for international media such as mediaterre.org , a French platform for information on climate change and sustainable development. I also publish on the Climate Tracker new blog and several other media.
I am mainly interested in the environment and climate, but I’m also an activist on political issues and good governance in Togo.
How did you get interested in climate change and climate journalism?
My interest in climate journalism stems from my interest in the environment and social welfare. At first I was interested in the SDGs. In point 13, there is the issue of fighting against climate change. But only when I started to read some courses on Climate Tracker’s website, and participate in competitions, is when I started to talk about mitigation, adaptation, and resilience methods. This is where I started to understand some concepts and the real issues related to climate change.
What is the most memorable story that you’ve covered?
It was my article on the constraints of  energy dependence in Togo. Writing this article pushed me to do research on the energy sector and specifically the supply of electricity in Togo.
You know, in my country, the authorities are withholding information and it is hard to find documentation for this kind of article. Unfortunately, our website was hacked in February 2018 and this article has been deleted. But some media had published it, so there are still traces of this article on the web and in some local presses.
How did you hear about Climate Tracker, and what was your experience like as a fellow?
I saw a Climate Tracker poster on Facebook that talked about a competition to recruit journalists and train them during a workshop in Ethiopia. For me, it was a great opportunity. I quickly submitted some articles, but unfortunately, I was not selected. But I did not get discouraged. I took into account the comments and observations of the Climate Tracker team and I participated in the next competition for COP23. This time, I won.
[The first time,] I was not selected. But I did not get discouraged. I took into account the comments and observations of the Climate Tracker team and I participated in the next competition for COP23. This time, I won.
The Fellowship in Bonn in 2017 was such an experience: With the realities of the COP, I was impressed by the high level of organization of our Climate Tracker instructors so that we really impact our audience with good articles.

What was your best memory from COP? What was the best thing you learned?
Negotiations in the African Negotiator Group. It was a great experience to follow these negotiations and find out how African policymakers were lacking the tricks to lead an international diplomacy that would both help their people and save the planet. Africa is one of the biggest victims of climate change.
The best thing I’ve learned is that everyone can change something for the good of the planet. I’ve seen the dynamism of Western youth in the claiming a better planet for tomorrow. I knew that I cannot stop at journalism, but I also have to do something to inspire those who read my articles.
What advice would you give a young journalist who wants to write about the climate?
I come from a corner of the world where, when you tell the truth, it can cost you your security, your life. I come from a corner of the world where decision-makers pretend to be concerned about the global threat, but in the end they realize they still want it for their own interests. Whatever the threats, I do what I have to do. I write about the realities and bring the voices of those who can not speak. It is only in this way that I can feel calm and confident that I am helping to change the world. This is the advice I have for my young colleagues: feel proud to defend the planet, our home.
Especially to journalists committed to the climate in Africa, the task is arduous: we have few means to reach the greatest countries and to reveal to the face of the world, the atrocities of climate change on our continent. And it happens that when it is an African journalist who writes, we do not consider.
But we must not be discouraged. We must be able to cry out loud enough to disturb those who sleep on the future of our generation.

For the past 3 years, Alo has been writing for iciLome.com, a critical digital publisher in Togo. He writes especially on coastal erosion, deforestation, mining industries, and pollution. Read a sample of Alo’s work here
Lily Jamaludin

About Lily Jamaludin

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she helped design education opportunities for stateless youth in Borneo, and assisted in eviction-prevention initiatives in the Bronx. She’s excited to mobilise more young writers from developing countries to influence national debate around climate change.