Goldin Fellows Lead Climate Actions in Cameroon and Nigeria

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By Yusuph Masanja
Co-Facilitator, Global Alumni Network

The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in Glasgow in November, finalized rules and consensus in line with the Paris Agreement of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°. Collective decisions with regards to both adaptation and mitigation efforts as they relate to finance, reporting and transparency were discussed. Central to this conference was the intention of every country to contribute towards the collective goal of limiting temperature rise. As these high-level global conferences gain worldwide attention, it is important to recognize grassroots efforts undertaken by community organizers to strengthen adaptation and promote mitigation efforts in their respective neighborhoods.

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A farmer’s group working with the Community Green Engagement

Goldin Global Fellows, Alex Gwanvalla (Cameroon) and Ismail Auwal (Nigeria), are great examples of grassroots leaders championing adaptation and mitigation strategies in their communities. Like most African countries, both Cameroon and Nigeria experience significant changes in weather patterns characterized by heavy rainfall, violent winds and high temperatures. The actions of Alex and Ismail demonstrate the importance of involving the voices of those at the margins, where climate change is significantly impacting lives. Alex and Ismail are now partnering with their local communities to address some of the threats posed by climate change.

In Cameroon, Alex and his team at Community Green Engagement are working to increase the adaptation capacity of eleven villages by empowering farmers.

“We believe protecting the environment has great potential in saving lives from the dire threat of climate change. Our work focuses on empowering communities through education and livelihood activities while protecting the environment.” — Alex Gwanvalla

Alex supports community groups engaged in beekeeping activities, organic farming, and poultry farming. This way, the community can potentially start earning income which increases their ability to adapt to changes imposed by climate change. He recently conducted a training workshop on how farmers can leverage their livelihood from effective operations of these activities. The workshop was held in Bamenda city and was attended by seventy-two farmers from eleven villages. Farmers learned about climate change and acquired new knowledge and skills on beekeeping, organic farming and poultry farming. Farmers were very happy to connect with their counterparts from other regions and exchange experiences, insights and reflections on various methods for improving their livelihoods. At the end of the workshop, one of the farmers remarked:

“Meeting with farmers from other villages was very encouraging to me. I would like similar workshop sessions to be conducted in my village where members of my community can participate and be inspired to be part of our group.”

 

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Community Green Engagement leads a beekeeping training session

 Alex would like to expand the workshops to eleven villages where they collaborate with farmers. The limitations posed by lack of funding to afford transportation for facilitators and participants has made this plan difficult to achieve. Ideally, the team has to conduct follow up activities to the villages to monitor and provide support in their projects on a regular basis. Most of the farmers they engage with are marginalized women who need encouragement and support.

“We are looking for financial support to enable us to lead these workshops and conduct follow ups, at least for a period of two years. After that, our groups might be able to finance their own training activities through income obtained from honey and crops. Such support will make our dream of becoming an effective farmers’ cooperative true.” — Alex Gwanvalla

In Nigeria, Ismail and his team have been busy with promoting mitigation efforts through tree planting. Their initiative, Make Kano Gree, benefits not only his city but has a ripple effect to the wider community, considering tonnes of CO2 that has been absorbed by thousands of plants they are growing each year.

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Ismail (left) planting a tree together with members of his community in Kano, Nigeria.

 

"We have planted over 160,972 trees in Kano and inspired many other groups of young people to plant. In two years, inspired groups of young people in our neighboring city have planted more trees than we have since we started!” — Ismail Auwal

Afforestation and reforestation are one of the key mitigation strategies and they benefit the globe at large despite taking a long time to start removing greenhouse gasses, i.e the cause of climate change.

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Tree planting Campaign in Kano, Nigeria.

This year, Ismail and his team are going to introduce a new workshop series called ‘waste-to-energy’ to solve the problem of waste and cooking energy. Ismail’s community lacks sufficient energy sources for cooking, lighting, and other needs. They hope to find an effective method of using waste to solve the energy problem.

“Producing energy from waste sounds like a great win-win strategy if it works! We’ll keep you posted, and please get in touch with us if you have any resourceful tips that could help our initiative.”— Ismail Auwal

Goldin Global Fellows from all over the world leverage partnerships and the asset based community development approach to produce community driven social change. They learn together and work with local community members on the ground as a community of practice. The high-level global conferences have been promoting states' consensus on actions against climate change. Along with that, we need a more powerful grassroot approach that empowers communities most affected, to lead in processes which make lasting change.

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