The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World

A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World

By Films For Action / filmsforaction.org

Documentaries have an incredible power to raise awareness and create transformative changes in consciousness both at the personal and global levels.

Over the last 8 years, we’ve watched hundreds of social change documentaries and cataloged the best of them on the site. There’s now so many that we realized we needed to filter this down even further. So what follows is our list of the very best 100 – hand-picked for their quality, insight and potential to inspire positive change.

All of the films have been selected because they are either free to watch online, or can be rented online. There are several films we would have loved to add to this list, but they currently don’t have an accessible way to view them. As that changes, we’ll be updating this list over time. Enjoy!


The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min · Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and…
HUMAN (2015)
382 min · What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight? That we laugh? Cry? Our curiosity? The quest for discovery?  Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist…
Money & Life (2013)
86 min · Money & Life is a passionate and inspirational essay-style documentary that asks a provocative question: can we see the economic crisis not as a disaster, but as a tremendous…
Dirt! The Movie (2009)
80 min · DIRT! The Movie takes you inside the wonders of the soil. It tells the story of Earth’s most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility–from its miraculous beginning to…
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · The Corporation is today’s dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future…
In Transition 2.0: A Story of Resilience & Hope in Extraordinary Times (2012)
66 min · This film is an inspirational immersion in the Transition movement, gathering stories from around the world of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. There are stories of…
Within Reach (2013)
87 min · Within Reach explores one couple’s pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to ‘bike-pack’ 6500 miles…
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min · If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th…
What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire (2007)
123 min · A middle class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American Lifestyle. Featuring interviews…
War Made Easy (2007)
70 min · War Made Easy reaches into the Orwellian memory hole to expose a 50-year pattern of government deception and media spin that has dragged the United States into one war after…
Food Inc. (2008)
3 min · For most Americans, the ideal meal is fast, cheap, and tasty. Food, Inc. examines the costs of putting value and convenience over nutrition and environmental impact. Director…
Beyond Elections: Redefining Democracy in the Americas (2008)
95 min · From Venezuela’s Communal Councils, to Brazil’s Participatory Budgeting; from Constitutional Assemblies to grassroots movements, recuperated factories to cooperatives across…
PROPAGANDA (2012)
95 min · Since it mysteriously appeared on YouTube on July 18, 2012, ‘Propaganda’ has been described as ‘1984 meets The Blair Witch Project’, ‘A mouthful of scary porridge’, and ‘Even…
Mark Corske's Engines of Domination (2014)
60 min · Political power — armed central authority, with states and war — is it part of human nature? Is it necessary for human communities? Or is it a tool that ruling elites use to…
Disruption (2014)
56 min · This is the story of our unique moment in history. We are living through an age of tipping points and rapid social and planetary change. We’re the first generation to feel the…
Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview (2013)
65 min · Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview is a documentary exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a worldview that is recreating our world…
Occupy Love (2013)
85 min · Join acclaimed director Velcrow Ripper on a journey deep inside the global revolution of the heart that is erupting around the planet. Humanity is waking up to the fact that…
Earthlings (2005)
95 min · EARTHLINGS is a feature length documentary about humanity’s absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also…
Lifting the Veil:  Obama and the Failure of Capitalist Democracy (2011)
114 min · This film explores the historical role of the Democratic Party as the “graveyard of social movements”, the massive influence of corporate finance in elections, the absurd…
Edible City: Grow the Revolution (2012)
60 min · Edible City tells the stories of the pioneers who are digging their hands into the dirt, working to transform their communities and do something truly revolutionary: grow…
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min · This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years…
Real Estate 4 Ransom: Why Does Land Cost the Earth? (2012)
39 min · REAL ESTATE 4 RAN$OM outlines a genuine alternative to the global property speculation that forced so many into debt. Doubling the pressure, the tax game has become just that…
2012: Time For Change (2010)
85 min · “2012: Time for Change” presents an optimistic alternative to apocalyptic doom and gloom. Directed by Emmy Award nominee João Amorim, the film follows journalist Daniel…
The War You Don't See (2010)
98 min · A powerful and timely investigation into the media’s role in war, tracing the history of embedded and independent reporting from the carnage of World War One to the destruction…
Peace, Propaganda And The Promised Land (2004)
79 min · Provides a striking comparison of U.S. and international media coverage of the crisis in the Middle East, zeroing in on how structural distortions in U.S. coverage have…
The Crisis of Civilization (2011)
87 min · A dark comedy remix mash-up bonanza about the end of industrial civilization. featuring clowns, car crashes, explosions, super heroes, and xylophones and much, much more …
The Evolution of Ecological Consciousness (2013)
109 min · Permaculture designer Andrew Faust gives us an inspiring and heady narrative about the evolution of all life and human consciousness on Mother Earth.  For more info about…
Zeitgeist: Moving Forward (2011)
162 min · A feature length documentary by Peter Joseph that presents the case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world…
The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil (2006)
52 min · When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, Cuba’s economy went into a tailspin. With imports of oil cut by more than half – and food by 80 percent – people were desperate. This…
For The Next 7 Generations (2009)
84 min · In 2004, thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers from all four corners, moved by their concern for our planet, came together at a historic gathering, where they decided to form an…
Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)
127 min · Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story comes home to the issue he’s been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives…
Inequality For All (2013)
90 min · A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, INEQUALITY FOR ALL features Robert Reich—professor, best-selling author, and Clinton cabinet member—as he demonstrates how…
First Earth: Uncompromising Ecological Architecture (2010)
90 min · FIRST EARTH is a documentary about the movement towards a massive paradigm shift for shelter — building healthy houses in the old ways, out of the very earth itself, and…
END:CIV (2011)
75 min · Directed by Franklin Lopez, END:CIV examines our culture’s addiction to systematic violence and environmental exploitation, and probes the resulting epidemic of poisoned…
Fresh: New Thinking about What We're Eating (2009)
3 min · FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Each has witnessed the rapid transformation of our agriculture…
The Canary Effect: Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2006)
63 min · From multi-award winning directors Robin Davey and  Yellow Thunder Woman, comes this ‘Illuminating Documentary’ (Time Out). Delving deeply into the often misunderstood and…
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min · Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were…
Garbage Warrior (2007)
87 min · What do beer cans, car tires and water bottles have in common? Not much unless you’re renegade architect Michael Reynolds, in which case they are tools of choice for producing…
Miss Representation (2011)
90 min · Miss Representation explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and…
The Secret of Oz (2009)
110 min · Thirteen years ago, in a documentary called “The Money Masters”, we asked the question why is America going broke. It wasn’t clear then that we were, but it is today. Now the…
The Myth of the Liberal Media: The Propaganda Model of News (1997)
59 min · Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky demolish one of the central tenets of our political culture, the idea of the “liberal media.” Instead, utilizing a systematic model based on…
Breaking The Taboo (2011)
58 min · Narrated by Oscar winning actor Morgan Freeman, the film follows The Global Commission on Drug Policy on a mission to break the political taboo over the United States led War…
Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class (2005)
64 min · Based on the book by Pepi Leistyna, Class Dismissed navigates the steady stream of narrow working class representations from American television’s beginnings to today’s…
Can We Do It Ourselves? (2015)
59 min · Within modern life exists a paradox: we celebrate democracy as a political system, but not as an economic system, even though our workplaces have a far greater impact on our…
Affluenza (1997)
56 min · AFFLUENZA is a groundbreaking film that diagnoses a serious social disease – caused by consumerism, commercialism and rampant materialism – that is having a devastating impact…
The Take: Occupy, Resist, Produce (2004)
87 min · In the wake of Argentina’s dramatic economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class finds itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass…
Anima Mundi: Permaculture, Peak Oil, Climate Change and the Soul of the World (2011)
77 min · Many people do not realize that permaculture is much more than about growing fruit and vegetables, it is a whole view incorporating the environment, energy, resources, housing…
Legalize Democracy (2014)
30 min · Legalize Democracy is a documentary film by Dennis Trainor, Jr. about a movement to amend the U.S. Constitution so that Corporations are not considered people, and money is not…
The Yes Men Fix The World (2009)
95 min · The Yes Men Fix the World is a screwball true story about two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business…
Gasland (2010)
102 min · The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When…
Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Politics (2009)
87 min · The definitive documentary explaining the influence of money on politics by Jonathan Shockley. If you like it, consider buying the high quality DVD or donating a few $ at…
Prout: Economic Democracy in Practice (2004)
30 min · Economics of Prout covers the basic economic principles of Prout, which offers a viable alternative to the materialistic, anti human philosophies of Capitalism and Communism.
DIVE! Living Off America's Waste (2009)
53 min · Inspired by a curiosity about our country’s careless habit of sending food straight to landfills, the multi award-winning documentary DIVE! follows filmmaker Jeremy Seifert and…
The Nature of Cities (2010)
39 min · “The Nature Of Cities” follows the journey of Professor Timothy Beatley as he explores urban projects around the world, representing the new green movement that hopes to move…
Not Business As Usual (2014)
61 min · Not Business As Usual is a provocative look at capitalism and its unintended price of success. The film tracks the changing landscape of business with the rising tide of…
Unwasted: The Future Of Business On Earth (2011)
54 min · Unwasted presents the alluring ideal of zero waste as a key element of the sustainable business model. While some may shake their heads thinking this an impossible task, it’s…
Enough Is Enough (2014)
18 min · Enough Is Enough lays out a visionary but realistic alternative to the perpetual pursuit of economic growth-an economy where the goal is enough, not more. “Based on the…
Class Dismissed (2004)
27 min · Class Dismissed provides a critical look at how U.S. history is taught in high school, at the myths that reduce the complexity of history into simple soundbites, and the…
Prosocial Progress: A Blueprint For Social Sustainability (2013)
55 min · Prosocial Progress aims to demonstrate how behavioural science can be utilised on a large scale in areas of child development, education and the culture itself in order to…
The Evilness of Power (2008)
92 min · THE EVILNESS OF POWER examines the ways in which power and hierarchy affect individuals, society, and the world at large. It’s possibly the best film on the subject ever…
Waste = Food (2007)
49 min · Man is the only creature that produces landfills. Natural resources are being depleted on a rapid scale while production and consumption are rising in na­tions like China and…
Toxic Sludge Is Good For You: The Public Relations Industry Unspun (2002)
45 min · While advertising is the visible component of the corporate system, perhaps even more important and pervasive is its invisible partner, the public relations industry. This…
Words From The Edge (2013)
50 min · Words From The Edge is a film about the unprecedented transition that we are undergoing from a culture of industrial growth and inequality to what must inevitably be more…
Law Enforcement Opposed to the War on Drugs (2006)
54 min · Cops and former cops who have put in decades fighting the war on drugs speak out against prohibition.
Growing Change: A Journey Inside Venezuela's Food Revolution (2011)
60 min · Growing Change follows the filmmaker’s journey to understand why current food systems leave hundreds of millions of people in hunger.  It’s a journey to understand how the…
Breaking The Silence - Truth And Lies In The War On Terror (2003)
51 min · “BREAKING THE SILENCE is a film with enormous emotional power, bringing us the human consequences of our military attacks on Middle East countries. It also provides us with…
Capitalism Is The Crisis (2011)
100 min · This documentary explains the nature of capitalist crisis, visits the protests against austerity measures, and recommends revolutionary paths for the future.
The Age of Stupid (2009)
88 min · Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite plays an old man living in the devastated world of 2055 in this documentary-drama-animation hybrid from Director Franny Armstrong and…
Sir! No Sir! - The GI Movement to End the Vietnam War (2005)
49 min · This feature-length documentary focuses on the efforts by troops in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War to oppose the war effort by peaceful demonstration and subversion…
Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992)
167 min · Funny, provocative and surprisingly accessible, the film explores the political life and ideas of Noam Chomsky, world-renowned linguist, intellectual and political activist. A…
The Soil Solution To Climate Change (2013)
30 min · What If A Solution To Climate Change Was Beneath Your Feet?  Soil is a living universe beneath our feet. As important to our lives as clean air and water, soil also holds a…
Singapore: Biophilic City (2012)
44 min · A whirlwind week in Singapore exploring the amazing story of how Singapore came to be one of the most ‘biophilic’ cities of the world, on the cutting edge of ecocity design and…
Education For a Sustainable Future (2012)
53 min · Education For a Sustainable Future presents information on how today’s practices in schools are socially unsustainable. The documentary film critically analyses what is…
The Bloom Episode 3: New Ways of the Sacred
70 min · Part III of The Bloom “New Ways of The Sacred” looks at how Transformational Festivals are venues for an active engagement with ancient, universal themes of MYTHOS, RITUAL and…
The Superior Human? (2012)
73 min · A documentary that systematically challenges the common human belief that humans are superior to other life forms. The documentary reveals the absurdity of this belief while…
Cultural Creatives 1.0: The (R)evolution
81 min · Featuring many key figures from Europe and the U.S., this is the first documentary film to look with scientific thoroughness at the world of Cultural Creatives. It shows that a…
Zeitgeist: Addendum (2008)
123 min · Zeitgeist: Addendum, a 2008 documentary film produced by Peter Joseph, is a continuation of the film Zeitgeist, the Movie. The film includes facts regarding the Federal Reserve…
The Global Brain: Peter Russell (1983)
35 min · Peter Russell’s award-winning video, based on a live audio-visual presentation in 1983. He explores the idea that the Earth is an integrated, self-regulating living organism…
Human Resources: Social Engineering In The 20th Century (2010)
119 min · Human Resources explores the rise of mechanistic philosophy and the exploitation of human beings under modern hierarchical systems. Topics covered include behaviorism…
Park Avenue: Money, Power And The American Dream (2012)
59 min · Academy Award-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room) presents his take on the gap between rich and poor Americans in Park…
Origins (2014)
101 min · This is a movie about how we have left the natural connection to the planet. The movie investigates how this has happened, the incredible amounts of pollutants that we are…
Cointelpro 101 (2010)
56 min · COINTELPRO may not be a well-understood acronym but its meaning and continuing impact are absolutely central to understanding the government’s wars and repression against…
Starsuckers (2009)
72 min · Starsuckers is a documentary about our celebrity obsessed media. It uncovers the real reasons behind our addiction to fame and blows the lid off the corporations and…
The Power Principle: Corporate Empire and the Rise of the National Security State (2012)
95 min · “A gripping, deeply informative account of the plunder, hypocrisy, and mass violence of plutocracy and empire; insightful, historically grounded and highly relevant to the…
The New Rulers of the World (2001)
52 min · ‘The New Rulers Of The World analyzes the new global economy and reveals that the divisions between the rich and poor have never been greater – two thirds of the world’s…
War By Other Means (1992)
52 min · John Pilger travels to many third world countries to investigate the devastating results of loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). This film shows…
Occupied Cascadia (2012)
116 min · Occupied Cascadia is a documentary film both journalistic and expressionistic. Exploring the emerging understanding of bioregionalism within the lands and waters of the…
Orwell Rolls In His Grave (2003)
105 min · “Orwell Rolls Over In His Grave” expresses ideas that will never be heard in mainstream media. It is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion…
PsyWar: The Real Battlefield Is The Mind (2010)
99 min · This film explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the United States, with an emphasis on the “elitist theory of democracy” and the relationship between…
Transitions For Society: Job Guarantee and Basic Income (2014)
20 min · This film presents a huge social problem called technological unemployment. Whilst doing so, the film also presents two potential solutions to this major social issue. The…
Own The Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time (2015)
20 min · Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time is a short documentary meant to give an overview of what a worker co-op is, how it can transform lives…
The Lottery of Birth (2013)
76 min · Do you shape the world or does it shape you? Drawing on leading thinkers from around the world, and with a torrent of mind-expanding ideas and information, THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH…
Permaculture: A Quiet Revolution (2008)
26 min · As corporate media fails to provide accurate news of the world’s dire environmental predicament, the Earth sends a clear message in the form of record-breaking natural…
What I've Learned About U.S. Foreign Policy (2000)
118 min · This is a powerful 10-part compilation that (in important ways) pulls aside the veil of Official myths and Lies about “freedom”, “democracy”, Human Rights, etc., being the…
Connected: A Film for Change (2013)
42 min · ‘Connected’ is a film made by Paul and Kate Maple, a UK based couple who have made it their lives for the last 4 years. Worried about the future and the seemingly…
Sprawling from Grace: Driven to Madness (2008)
81 min · For as long as most Americans can remember the car has been the embodiment of the American dream. But with more than 250 million cars and trucks on the road, Americans have…
A Crude Awakening (2007)
82 min · Produced and directed by award-winning European journalists and filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack, A Crude Awakening tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction…
No Logo: Brands. Globalization. Resistance. (2003)
40 min · In the age of the brand, logos are everywhere. But why do some of the world’s best-known brands find themselves on the wrong end of the spray paint can — the targets of…

Did we miss anything really good? What films would you add to the list?

Added Jun 10th, 2015 by

Kenya – Photo Exhibition @ Open The Gate, Dalston – 24th November – 4th January 2012

During the months of December 2009 and January 2010 I travelled to Kenya in Eastern Africa, landing in Nairobi to the sounds and smells of rush hour traffic, noticing big birds high up in the trees, colourful vehicles and no driving rules, I knew I was in for an amazing experience.

Blessed with the opportunity to visit the motherland, Kenya is a place of original roots and culture, beautiful and vast countryside landscapes including the massive Great Rift Valley, the big 5, a busy vibrant capital city with a buzzing night life and everything else in between.

The Masai Mara alone proved this to be true, from lions eating prey in the wild to the Masai people themselves and their history, Kenya is a special part of the land.

The people here are equally as nice, of course corruption within all levels of political factions is present, and post election violence tension is still glaring in some people’s eyes, Kenya is a place of great social understanding, the driving for example, is pretty crazy when looked at through any foreigners eyes, but living in a country and taking its roads everyday for nearly 2 months, I saw nowhere near as many road accidents as I do in London!  Although drivers do not obey traffic lights and the workings of a roundabout do not mean anything, everybody seems to just get on with it, not moaning about everything like us Brits, I guess that’s cos they appreciate what they’ve got…

Back to the city, I found myself hooking up with an NGO in the Dandora slum called VYTDA (Vision for Youth Talent Development Association) headed up by local guys who dedicate their time to helping people in the community.  I spent a good amount of time with them as they kindly took me around the slum during January 2010, with the sun blazing down and the life of the slum fully alive, school kids running round laughing and playing, tradesmen doing their thing and the voices of young children shouting “MOUZOUNGU!” (white man!)

For many of these children this may well be the first or second time they have seen a white man in their area and is a special occasion for them, I remember one time when 3 shy kids were standing in front of me saying something in Swahili, my friend Anthony translated… “we want to shake his hands but our hands our dirty”  I felt so humbled and instantly took their hands, these kids were so cute and innocent, and unfortunately view the white man as superior to them, this is the harsh reality that is poverty in Africa, people from an Ancient land with Ancient ancestors reduced to slums with dirty waters, while the west continues to profit from the rich resources that are continuously raped from the continent – from the blood diamonds to Shell and BP taking oil and not giving back to the community its taking it from, in fact in most cases these corporations also end up polluting surrounding areas with total dis-regard to eco system and nature, often polluting reservoirs and streams, this is very obvious with the recent BP oil spill in the Gulf, which has resulted in over a million species dying not to mention the poisoning of local communities and damage that will affect those waters for decades to come.

In that sense, I have hooked up with the already established Kenya’n charity – Anno’s Africa who do some amazing work in Nairobi and this exhibition will be donating a percentage of all image sales to the charity to ensure further good work is carried out.  Focussing on teaching arts to children in Kibera, Anno’s Africa now wants to set up a school in nearby Dandora.  We are asking anyone with an old digital camera sitting at home not being used to please donate to this cause, the camera’s will go directly to the slums in Nairobi allowing children there the chance to learn more!

Dandora:

Working alongside an NGO called Vision for Youth Training and Development Association (VYTDA) the team (Anthony, Ras Abasa, Collins, Doreen, Wilson, Chacha and the kids) took me on many journeys around Dandora visiting various people in the slums, talking to teachers in schools, watching the kids play football on a Sunday and the most distressing part of the area – the dump site.  In comparison to life on a dump site, every other poor part of the world I’ve been to just doesn’t seem as bad.  The living conditions here are life threatening, with a new born baby in Dandora not expected to live past the age of 35 due to the hazardous nature of the poisonous fumes that extend from the dump.


"Swine Stream" - A pig lies dead in the Nairobi river which runs just alongside the dumpsite on its way through Dandora. Carrying along with it the environmental and health risks to the Riparian communities who may be using the water for irrigation and food products and in their homes. Women can generally be seen washing their clothes in the river along the river banks.

Even local Kenyan’s who live in Nairobi are shocked when I show them some of the photos of the dump, saying things like “wow is that a pig in the river?”  and “is that a child going through the rubbish?”  yes indeed,  they have lived here all their lives but have never set foot in Dandora to witness the situation for themselves.  So for me this exhibition is not only about exposing this situation to the outside world, but to native Kenyan’s also.  They way I see it, the more people know about the situation, the more hope there is for people coming together to pressure the government and human rights groups to come up with a solution, for I see this as nothing less than inhumane living conditions.


"No School" - A young girl working on the dumpsite, to her left, a girl wearing school uniform, the girl dragging the bag should really be in school, like all the other kids working on the dumpsite, the harsh reality however is that she must provide for her family at this young age and miss out on school and a childhood.

Dandora is home to east Africa’s largest dumpsite, spanning a 32-acre stretch of land overlooking the settlements of Dandora, Kariobangi north, Korogocho and Bada Ndogo – home to around a million informal sector workers, most on very low income earnings.

Approximately 10,000 workers are present on the dumpsite on any one day, many people here live on less that a pound a day and finding that working on the dumpsite, although hazardous to their health, can provide food on the table at home. Here workers, many of whom are children, can be witnessed going through the waste separating materials and finding what they can use to make money.

"Plastic Pavement" - Locals use the pathway through the dumpsite. All garbage from Nairobi's industries, hotels, restaurants, airports, and residential areas are dumped here. Private cartels control business at the dumpsite and it is also a politically sensitive area.

Politicians are allegedly involved in the dump site affairs, owning some of the lorries which dump garbage at the site. The dumpsite is believed to be a multimillion dollar industry and the local politicians are believed to be highly implicated in maintaining the status quo while taking different positions over the relocation of the dumpsite depending on which position is convenient to them at a particular point in time.

The Dandora dumpsite has a number of co-operatives of youth and women which have come up to sort and recycle some of this waste. Cartels hire them to sort out and recycle wastes from industries and residential estates in Nairobi. Due to hard economic times which has spawned a culture of survival, these people earn between Ksh 50-150 (USD 0.75-2.3) a day. They work under harsh conditions without any protective clothing. Their employers do not cover them when they get sick. Getting sick here is as common as a hobby and this is manifested in the high death rate of those working at the dumpsite.

"Balancing on the Blues" According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) one third of the global disease burden can be attributed to threats in the physical environment. Environmental risk factors account for 4.7 million deaths of children under the age of 5 each year. http://www.searo.who.int/en/Section13/Section37/Section135.htm

"One Sock" Baby plays with metal spring. Among the agricultural and domestic wastes, medical syringes, heavy metals such as lead and mercury, organic (air and soil) pollutants such as DDT and PCBs are commonly found in Dandora. Plastics, lead-paint treated wood, rubber and hazardous chemical waste can be spotted everywhere.

I am pleased to have read recently that regeneration plans will commence in early 2012, with the aspiration of moving the dumpsite away from Dandora. The information is met with some speculation however as the garbage will simply be relocated. Time will tell who will be affected.  Article here: All Africa


Kibera:

"Corrugated Dreams" Corrugated roofs packed together. Kibera is one of the biggest slums in Africa and might soon be the biggest with a population reaching nearly 1.5million people in an area only 2.5sq kilometres big, that’s over a quarter of Nairobi’s whole population living in less than 1% of Nairobi’s total area. That’s around 1400 people per acre.

The Government owns all the land.  10% of people are shack owners and many of these people own many other shacks and sub-let them. All the rest are tenants with no rights.

The average size of shack in this area is 12ft x 12ft built with mud walls, screened with concrete, a corrugated tin roof, dirt or concrete floor. The cost is about Ksh 700 per Month (£6). These shacks often house up to 8 or more, many sleeping on the floor.

Only about 20% of Kibera has electricity. UN-Habitat is in the process of providing it to some parts of Kibera – this will include street lighting, security lighting and connection to shacks (this costs Ksch 900 per shack, which in most cases is not affordable).  In most of Kibera there are no toilet facilities.  One latrine (hole in the ground) is shared by up to 50 shacks. Once full, young boys are employed to empty – they take the contents to the river. UN-Habitat and a few other agencies are trying to help and improve this situation but it is painfully slow.

In Kibera there are no government clinics or hospitals. The providers are the charitable organisations: AMREF, MSF, churches plus some others. They do a great job. All people are encouraged to have a free HIV test and if positive to take free generic ARV medicine.

Kibera is one of the most studied slums in Africa, not only because it sits in the centre of a modern city, but also because the U.N.’s agency for human settlements is headquartered close by. In September 2009 the Kenyan government, which claims ownership of the land on which Kibera stands, began a long-term movement scheme to re-house the people who live in slums in Nairobi with the backing of the UN.

Critics argue that slum clearances tend to ignore the social problems that cause slums and simply redistribute poverty to less valuable real estate. Where communities have been moved out of slum areas to newer housing, social cohesion may be lost. If the original community is moved back into newer housing after it has been built in the same location, residents of the new housing face the same problems of poverty and powerlessness. There is a growing movement to demand a global ban of ‘slum clearance programmes’ and other forms of mass evictions.

A report issued by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission issued in May 2010 and entitled ‘Promoting High-level Sustainable Growth to Reduce Unemployment in Africa’ states that African countries must prioritise the creation of decent jobs as a central pillar of economic policy in order to eradicate poverty.

Statistics taken from

http://www.kibera.org.uk/Facts.html

http://kiberacelticfc.com/facts_about_kibera.html

"Wheeling Contemplation" Boy child transports metal container in a tyre which is too heavy for him to carry.

"Little Peace's" Children express peace...

"Knowledge, Wisdom, *Overstanding" Ras Nganga, Ras Githaka and Jah Pillar, members of the Selassie I Foundation operating in Kibera and other parts of Kenya, engage communities in agricultural, environmental and educational activities such as planting trees and growing their own food. The Selassie I Foundation is a non-political, non affiliated and non-religious volunteer movement with the aim of rescuing Africa’s youth, raising them with the awareness necessary for survival and to forge a united continent. *”Overstand”, a Rastafarian term to stand over rather than under knowledge.

"Grind to the bone" Man grinds cow bone to make intricate jewellery in makeshift factory. Adaptability, skill and the industrious nature of the Kibera people encompassed this space.

"Pushing Paper" A rundown railway track which passes through the heart of Kibera.

With a large area to cover and not too much time to play with, I headed to two spots that really caught my attention:


The M2 Art Studio:

The M2 Art Studio is a lovely bunch of artists based right in the heart of Kibera, an area which saw some of the worst violence during the post election period of 2007, luckily the studio was one of the only left standing after all the neighbours buildings had been burnt to the ground. M2 then played an important part in restoring peace to the neighbourhood.

Around this area you can see the influence of M2, on the way into Kibera as you cross the bridge, art can be seen on both sides of the walls. Once inside, artist Solo 7 has spread peace all over the neighbourhood, literally spraying walls with the words KEEP PEACE ALIVE / PEACE WANTED ALIVE as well as other similar messages. This played a big part in switching people’s minds back to community and not violence shortly after the post election riots that shook the country in 2007-2008.

Inside the studio we have Wycliffe downstairs painting a nice picture of an area called Kisumu which is on the western part of Kenya in the Lake Victoria region, another region in which archaeologists discovered early human skeleton remains dating back over a million years. Above to the left is a picture purposely mis spelt for comedy, reading “Farmers choice beef cow market”

Upstairs we have Rabala painting a lovely canvas of the slums, including so many small details that you see the second and third time around.

The whole collective is currently 10 members strong, putting on exhibitions worldwide including New York, Italy, Norway and other countries, they are also very keen on having their first exhibition in London and would appreciate any help on this, please contact me if this is your area.

M2 Art facebook page:

The Selassie I Foundation:

The Selassie I Foundation, part of the Shiriki Charity Organization which works for sustainable development maintained the cleanest area of land in Kibera that I saw.  With their minds focus on praising and preserving mother earth, these spiritual Rasta’s keep their area clean and green.


A view of the The Selassie I Foundation from across the street, one of the most colourful parts of the slum I witnessed.

While to speaking to Ras Abasa in Dandora, I asked him if he knew of any other Rasta’s he could put me in contact with, at which point he mentioned the Selassie I Foundation.  It was a great blessing for me to be invited in, I was humbled by the presence of these inspirational artists, weaving scarf’s, making jewellery, creating sandals, painting on canvases and practicing intricate and technical craftsmanship.


This young man creatively designs these flip flops made from car tyres and beads, a common trade throughout African countries, not only are they comfy, they grip the road well!

I was greeted by Ras Nganga, Jah Pillar and Ras Githaka, 3 community workers described the various activities they initiated to engage the community in Kibera and other parts of Kenya, including the set up of grass-roots sustainable agriculture, environment and education.  I was showed a photo album of the volunteer work they have been doing with school children, teaching them how to plant trees, maintain a plant and grow your own food.

The movement is totally volunteer based, as they believe that it is their duty, as well as ours, to fulfil the creed that the hungry be fed, the sick nourished, the infants cared for and the aged protected.

It is a very simple, non-political non affiliated and non-religious volunteer movement with the aim of rescuing Africa’s youth, rising them with the awareness necessary for survival and the task of shaping and forging a united continent.

facebook page

shiriki@live.com

Maasai Mara:

Maasai children take a break from their lunch to greet us in to the village...

Only 3 days in to the trip, we headed southwest of Nairobi to the Maasai Mara (Masai Mara), known as Africa’s greatest wildlife reserve and home to the Maasai people.

Entering a small village just outside the reserve we were greeted by the Maasai and shown into their homes.  Here we were brought face to face with the lifestyle and educated on the culture.  One thing I found common throughout Kenya was the custom of men being able to have multiple wives.  This is not a religious aspect of their lives but a cultural one, it was explained to me in the village that a man is able to choose a new wife and when he does, it is her duty to then build him a new home!  And the mud huts they have are very well constructed as we witnessed…

As well as this the Maasai explain that they have been living the same way as their ancestors did over a thousand years ago, nomadic in their movements, the Maasai people are often seen walking all over the country, often leaving the village they were born in and not returning for years at a time.  They explain that the national reserve however is part of their home also and surprisingly they are not scared to walk the landscape alongside lions and leopards.  Quite the opposite in fact, when a young boy is in his teenage years and going through the motions of initiating into a grown Maasia man, one thing he must accomplish is to go into the wild with a group of men and kill a male lion, returning with its mane.

As much as the Maasai obviously have a great connection and respect for nature, being a lover of lions and other big cats I found this a little hard to understand.  For the Maasai its a psychological advantage, making a statement and engraving it in their minds, that this is their land and they will walk freely and not be afraid of any specie that they encounter.  Of course there are many animal rights groups who are not happy about this and it is a very sensitive area.

The Maasai also drink cow blood as a source of protein, this is done by making a small incision near the neck and is performed in such away that the cow only sheds a little blood and does not die.  Due to the recent famine and drought however, this is now less practised as there are less cattle roaming the lands.

A lot of information on the Maasai can be found on the Maasai Association website.


A Maasai elder looks over his land, the few cattle and goats that remain must be well looked after. With the drought in east Africa continuing to get worse, there is now less food available than there once was. As well as this, much of their territory has been taken away from them by ranchers and settlers leaving them with even less space than before for the cattle.

Using hard wood and softwood together, rubbed with the hands fast enough to cause a small piece of the softwood to grow to a burning temperature and fall off the end, producing fire.

Maasai Mara and Lake Nakuru:

Spending 3 days travelling the Maasai Mara in a custom Matatu (13 seater) with the roof raised and camera’s at the ready, this safari was one of the best experiences of my life.  We saw Giraffe walking the land tall and strong, high above all other land animals, the occasional Maasai man walking his cattle, Monkeys were literally everywhere, a couple of Hyenas turned up and most amazing of all were the big cats.  I was happy to snap a great deal of Lion pictures as well as finding ourselves a beautiful Leopard relaxing in some shade.

Lake Nakuru was also a great experience with lots of White Rhino present, unfortunately we did not spot the million or more Flamingo’s we hoped for, instead we found that we could drive our jeep almost 300metres on to the salty shore where the lake has receded due to the continued drought in east Africa.

White Rhinoceroses in Lake Nakuru National Park

Monkeys relaxingin the Maasai Mara

"The Great Rift Valley" Approx 6000km in length, running from Syria to central Mozambique and also in the process of splitting the African plate into two separate plates, generally referred to as the Nubian Plate and the Somali Plate. The Rift Valley in eastern Africa, namely Kenya, in which it is deepest to the north of Nairobi, is rich in fossils and has allowed the study of human evolution. It was here that scientists discovered the remains of several hominids including those of Lucy dating back over 3-million years as well as the remains of a 10-million year old ape, who was found in the Afar Rift, in eastern Ethiopia.

A baby elephant in the Maasai Mara

On the last day of trip through the Mara, we were about to head back to our base when the driver had a feeling that he wanted to check out another spot before heading off. Approaching sunset there wasn't much time to play with, luckily we spotted a whole family of lions just waking up on a rock face. We sat in the vehicle for a good half an hour studying in amazement at the wonder of this animal. Of course many shots were taken and so a collage just had to be produced.

A rare sight even in the Maasai Mara, we quietly rolled up on this beautiful creature chillin out in the shade and literally just stood in amazement at the wonderful and beautiful site that is a Leopard. Shortly after leaving this spot we noticed the Leopard's kill sitting high up in the branches where it had been stored for later consumption.

Sitting in the middle of a field of grass, if there was ever a picture that described the word "Pride" this would be it, for me anyway, I see nothing but proudness on this Lion's face. Fully grown and fully aware of his surroundings, its no wonder he is the King of the cats in Africa.

Famous for its vast array of bird life and millions of flamingos - over 450 species recorded, Lake Nakuru can be seen here with only a few flamingos present. In times past these numbers would reach over a million. Due to the continued drought in east Africa the lake has now receded by up to 300metres, meaning that many of the flamingos have now had to relocate to a nearby lake in Uganda.

A male lion helps his two female counterparts in ripping apart the stomach of their kill to open it up for easier access. Shortly after this, the lioness at the bottom of the shot picked up the animals intestines from the stomach and moved them away to the side, knowing full well that the intestines are not the best part to eat!

Gold Mining community in West Pokot:

Towards the end of my stay in Kenya I decided to get out of the busy city and head for the countryside.  10 hours on a bumpy bus headed north west of Nairobi took me to the remote farming region of Kitale.  In fact the landscape I saw on this route was more spectacular than heading east or south from Nairobi, lush green fields and plantations were abundant as well as the sunset I got to see shortly before arriving in Kitale.

From here I ventured further north to the remote region of West Pokot – bordering Uganda and Sudan respectively, it was here that I stayed at a lovely campsite with John and his lovely family.  John explained that he works voluntarily to build schools and teach children in the area.  He made it very clear that a few donations such as building materials can go such a long way, his details are below.

John  then took me down the valley to meet his father, working in the local gold mine with other community members.  From urban poverty in Nairobi to rural poverty here, the fact remains that this community were struggling to survive, with mothers mixing down their staple food Ugali with water to stretch it further.  John  explained to me that this mine is almost done and the community workers will have to move on to another piece of land soon enough.

Related links and further information:

http://mbara1.webs.com/mteloviewpointcampsite.htm

https://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=115514718472603&v=wall

"Digging for Gold" Members of this community come together to mine for gold every day, each person has their allocated task, working together in harmony and unity. The landscape here can be seen in a similar 'dug-up' fashion around the area. Small pockets of gold sources are exhausted before this community of miners move to the next area to find more gold.

"Golden Earth" A bowl of mud and possible gold is passed upwards and will eventually reach the women in the river who will carefully wash out the mud, filtering through with their hands in search for one of earths most sought after precious metals. This style of mining is highly dangerous as the mines can and have been known to collapse unpredictably due to mud slides and heavy rainfall.

"Lifeline" A small piece of gold shines bright under the African sun. Later that day an equivalent amount was found. In total the entire workforce (approx 100 people) will have made £40 for a day's work, not enough to feed them all.

"Golden Maize" A women sits with her two granddaughters, slowly feeding one child with Ugali, the staple food of a maize composite, in this case watered down to stretch further, as there is often not enough food to go round.

Ghetto Peoples Mix:

If you were lucky enough to attend the launch night and get a free goodie bag you would have received this mix CD that I created while in Kenya.  After my first day in Kibera I returned home to edit through the pictures of the day and came across one particular image that I first made sepia and then cropped to a square factor, stepped back and thought – that’s an album cover!

So at that moment I began to create a mix CD with the reggae I had on my hard drive, as well as including a few samples from old reggae documentaries and soundclashes, the result, ‘Ghetto Peoples Mix’ – dedicated to all the good people I met in Dandora, Kibera and the rest of Kenya.

You can hear the mix by clicking the play button below, it is currently one long mix, I shall include a link here shortly where you will be able to download the whole album with split tracks and hi res covers!  Enjoy…