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Snapshots: The fight against wildfires

Photojournalist Fritz Pinnow takes a road trip to document the effects of El Niño on local communities.

A firefighter walks up a burning hill Fritz Pinnow/TNH
A member of the specialised brigade from the Honduran National Institute of Forest Conservation and Development fights a wildfire on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa.

As world leaders gathered in December in Dubai for the UN-led COP28 climate summit to seek solutions for a dangerously overheating planet, photojournalist Fritz Pinnow embarked on a road trip to report on the complex climate dynamics in Central America.

From drought in the Dry Corridor to US-bound migration, from the climate-linked spread of tropical diseases to fragile coastal communities, from forest fire survivors to flood victims, Pinnow has been exploring all the different intertwined impacts, gathering photos, videos, and testimonies from many of those affected. Here is his final dispatch:

22 March - The fight against wildfires 

Pinnow spends time with the Honduran National Institute of Forest Conservation and Development in the capital, Tegucigalpa, to find out how they’re tackling a growing number of wildfires. He talks to a specialist with the wildfire brigades who explains how climate-related droughts have made the fires significantly more frequent. Pinnow then gets to witness efforts to put out a wildfire first-hand, seeing how difficult it is to keep it under control when the wind direction quickly changes. He sees what tools and strategies the brigades use to try to stop the flames, and experiences the challenges of walking on the burning-hot terrain. He also visits a small garden the firefighters look after to help reforest burned land. 


Many communities in Central America are facing what has been described as a non-traditional humanitarian crisis: High levels of poverty and gang violence are being compounded by a vulnerability to extreme climate events, fuelling outward migration.

Year by year in the Dry Corridor – which stretches across El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua – the climate crisis is leaving a larger and larger mark, especially in rural areas, where many farming families are now struggling to support themselves.

In Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, some eight million people are moderately or severely food insecure; in rural areas, poverty rates have climbed to 66%, 71%, and 42.2% respectively.

This year, El Niño – a phenomenon that causes above-average Pacific Ocean temperatures, leading to heavy rains in some regions of the world and drought in others – has already significantly reduced farmers’ crops. In 2024, it is expected to further hit grain production, increasing levels of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition.

Watch more of Pinnow’s reports below:

29 February - Dying corals and struggling fishermen

Pinnow returns to the town of Tornabé on the northern coast of Honduras to see for himself how climate change is destroying the coral reefs that are so vital to the survival of the surrounding ecosystem. Two fishermen, whose livelihoods are now under threat, say more extreme weather has forced them to rent bigger boats instead of the traditional ones they owned themselves. They say it is getting harder to find good fish because the coral is dying. Pinnow goes on a dive with the coordinator of the Coral Reef Alliance NGO, who explains how higher water temperatures lead to a process called “bleaching” that is killing the coral and driving fish away.

13 February - The spread of arboviruses

Pinnow traverses the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, to better understand the link between climate change and the increasing spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as dengue and malaria. These diseases primarily affect poor communities with little access to water as they store what rainfall they can gather in containers and areas that turn into breeding sites. Residents explain how paying for drugs to treat those infected has become a huge burden, and say the viruses are even keeping children from going to school. He also visits a mosquito farm where Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has joined a global effort to develop a new way to prevent infections.

24 January - Afro-Indigenous Hondurans driven to migrate

Pinnow begins the new year by visiting a community of Afro-Indigenous Garífuna people on the northern Caribbean coast of Honduras. Socially and economically marginalised for centuries, Garífunas face a new challenge as storms and floods hit their region with alarming regularity. In Tornabé, the village Pinnow visits, tradition holds that women tend to the crops while men fish. However, the extreme weather has curtailed both those activities, taking away their main sources of livelihood. Pinnow meets single mothers who are now struggling to feed their children; finds houses completely flooded; and children missing school due to storm damage. It’s little surprise that a growing number of Garífunas are trying to migrate to the United States.

22 December - Sinking livelihoods

This week, Fritz heads to the small town of Cedeño, on the southern coast of Honduras. Most people here live off beach tourism, but climate change is causing the high-tide mark to rise by more than one metre each year, flooding houses, restaurants and hotels, and pushing tourists away. Where there used to be a school and a laboratory for shrimp farming, Fritz finds only ruins. He talks to small business owners who make a living cooking for visitors but are now losing their sole source of livelihood. Many have been displaced, their houses swallowed by the sea, or subsist only thanks to remittances family members send from the United States.

13 December - The fight for food

Fritz´s first destination is Choluteca, a department in the middle of the Dry Corridor in southern Honduras where farmers are bracing for upcoming drought and fishermen have been caught out by the early onset of “El Niño”. In rural communities south of the city of Choluteca, such as San Bernardo, he finds crop farmers, fishermen, and cattle ranchers, all fearful of what the next months will bring. Some farmers are even turning to a slimy fruit called Jícaro to feed their cattle, due to the lack of food and water.

Videos edited by Ciara Lee. Text edited by Daniela Mohor and Andrew Gully.

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