As Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion inspire climate protesters across the globe, young African activists say they still struggle to make themselves heard.
“No continent will be struck as severely by the impacts of climate change as Africa,” the UN Environment Program said as it warned of increased flooding, widespread food insecurity and major economic losses.
However, awareness remains low and a study from research institute Afrobarometer in August said that four in 10 Africans have never heard of climate change.
At the Climate Chance Summit Africa conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, from Wednesday through Friday, hundreds of campaigners, local government officials and businesspeople from across the continent sought a way forward.
Togolese activist Kevin Ossah, 22, led a mock UN debate that pitched participants playing the role of major polluters such as the US against those set to bear the biggest burden of the crisis.
He said he admires the huge crowds taking to the streets from Sydney to Stockholm, but in his West African homeland — ruled by an authoritarian regime that has cracked down on protests — that is not really an option.
“As youth, we can’t be putting our lives in insecurity by entering roads and doing something that Greta is doing,” Ossah said.
Instead, he plans to focus on more practical steps, such as planting trees, educating rural communities and writing to leaders calling for action.
“I think the thing we can do is use communication and digital communications skills,” he said. “We have to share information and let other people know about us and share the efforts that we are doing.”
Africa produces only a tiny fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions, and the fight against climate change is often seen as an issue more for people living in the developed economies of Europe, North America and Asia.
However, those attending the conference insisted awareness could grow if local officials and activists focus on the problems Africans confront every day.
Akwannuasah Gyimah, municipal chief executive of Asokwa in central Ghana, said he was committed to increasing education about climate change to his constituents.
As a starting point he wants to target the poorly maintained vehicles that belch acrid black fumes into the faces of passersby in his region.
“It is difficult to deal with this situation because the people don’t even understand what it means,” he said in reference to the environmental effect.
Former Beninese minister of the environment, housing and urban planning Luc Gnacadja said that one problem is the lack of access to information and education on the issue.
Young people need localized data about the effect that climate change is having on populations and the economy to help lead the fight, he said.
Crowds have taken to the streets in some African cities as part of the global protest movement — but their numbers have been tiny compared with elsewhere.
The bold tactics employed by young demonstrators in the West do not readily translate to the rigid hierarchies of societies where challenging elders is often a taboo, Gnacadja said.
“They can’t just go ahead and speak like Greta Thunberg, of course, the youth in Africa will have difficultly to say ‘how dare you,’” he said.
Those challenges do not seem to faze Patience Alifo, 23, from Ghana.
The climate campaigner said that young people needed to be included in the debate — and that often it is the people in power who need the most education.
Some authorities refuse to listen to young activists and the solutions they might propose, Alifo said.
Even at the climate conference, more young people should be represented, she said.
“We are the current generation, and we are the ones who will face the consequences, if we have the knowledge about it, I am sure they [young people] will all be here to negotiate or advocate for good policies,” she said.
Like other activists across the world, Alifo said campaigners in Ghana are getting bolder and would not be silenced or ignored.
“Even though we are not seeing the desired results we believe that as we continue — there is going to be change,” she added.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable