2015 UNCCD short writing contest and winners


The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) launched its first short writing contest this year in order to understand the different ways in which people around the world describe their relationship to land. More than 230 submissions from nearly 50 countries were made by applicants aged between 7 and 77 years old. The contest had a category for children and youth and a category for the general public.

The contest’s theme “Land nurturing people nurturing life” prompted many great responses.

We asked participants the following questions:

  • How would you express your relationship with land in a poem?
  • What does land mean to you?
  • Do you know any proverb about land in your country? Is it still relevant in your today’s life?

The submissions were creative, revealing and insightful. They varied in literary expression and style, ranging from proverbs and short Haiku-style pieces to short stories. Many of the stories present the land as a mother figure and advocate for immediate action to restore and protect the land and its resources.In recognition of the high quality of submissions, the UNCCD secretariat will publish the best submissions in its future publications, acknowledging the authors by name and age.

2015 short writing contest winners

Mr Mohamed Aseen Nasrulla from the Maldives and Mr Yesashimwe Néhémie from Rwanda are the winners of the first short-writing contest of the UNCCD. Nasrulla was the winner in the children’s category for people aged 15 and younger, while 24 year old Yesashimwe Néhémie won the adult category. The winners were announced on UNCCD World Day to Combat Desertification 17 June 2015.

Written from the land’s perspective, Mohamed describes the negative shift in appreciation toward land and the significance of the mutual relationship between land and people. From worship to abuse, he emphasizes the importance of recognizing the land’s vulnerable state and hopes that the world understands land restoration can no longer wait. Read his short story "GAIA".  

Regarding his winning submission, Mohamed said, “I am indeed grateful for getting a chance to an article to promote the vital role of nature for living beings. I would like to thank the UNCCD for providing such a great opportunity for those who live in different parts of the world and look forward for more such opportunities.”

In a letter addressed to Land, Yesashimwe pledges to protect and nourish the land and contribute to its restoration. Regarding land as a mother, he vows to encourage others to treat land with “respect and care.” Read his piece "Saving my other mother".  

Responding to the announcement, Yesashimwe said, “I can't find proper terms to express my happiness, but all I can say is: 2015 is a wonderful year to me!”

Néhémie will receive a financial award of USD 500 and Mr. Nasrulla an award of USD 300.

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