Samuel Anuga never thought that climate change would have a direct effect on the mental health of Ghanaians. Since he saw how many develop depressions, stress and some even try to end their lives after the loss of crops or the destruction of their homes and farms after unusual rains, he decided to dedicate himself to activism. Nez Ibequa in Nigeria wanted to end violence between peasants who migrate and fight for the same land. And for a few years, Rudo Piri’s obsession is that the communities of Zimbabwe are the ones that lead the ecological transition; May the natural beauty of your country resemble your childhood memories again.
For these three African activists, problems have long been signaled. And the solutions too: end the genocide of indigenous peoples and racial oppression to tackle the continent’s environmental problems. “What we can do in Africa is very different from what can be done in the West,” explained Kenyan Janet Kabue, also an environmental activist and moderator of the virtual event. You African, held this Sunday within the framework of Climate Week in New York. “The systematic exploitation of Africa has caused a brutal loss of life and the destruction of the continent. The leftovers of the stolen stay here and contaminate. Just like the water and the air near the mines. The destruction of our lives is the last price we are paying for your comfort […] But we know our lands and we know what is best for us, ”he declared with firm, unwavering eyes.
The event, organized by Every SustainingAllLife.org (Salt and United To End Racism (UER) became a listening room and a perfect setting to create synergies and share experiences among the nearly 200 people who they appeared to Zoom. “It is a meeting of friends with ideas and desire to improve the planet we live on, to rescue Mother Earth,” Kabue said before giving way to the three guests.
Samuel Anuga, Ghana. “Caring for the environment is caring for mental health”
Ghana is well aware of the ravages of climate change. This country in western Africa has witnessed gradual sea level rise, unusual torrential rains, and prolonged droughts. These changes have forced thousands of farmers and ranchers to adapt. A sometimes very complex process. That is why Samuel Anuga, an expert agricultural researcher, has been dedicated to facilitating the transition and empowering those who till the land for seven years.
The little ones must be taught that each person has a role to heal the world
Nez Ibequa, activist. Nigeria
“Many saw how their houses were flooded or their farms lost,” he recounted by videoconference. “And we began to realize that these traumatic situations lead to problems of anxiety, stress, depression and even suicidal tendencies. Farmers cannot bear the burden of not having any salary to take home ”. Since then, he has dedicated himself to teaching them to protect the environment in which they live and tries to recover traditional harvesting methods, ecological fertilizers and promotes crops based on the changes experienced.
Anuga assures that the farmers have welcomed the program with great optimism and that thanks to it they have built strong support networks. The main problem is the lack of state funds and government involvement: “This knowledge is not only necessary in Ghana. But without support it is difficult to reach the rest of African countries in similar situations ”. Meanwhile, the Ghanaian trusts citizen action. “Yes, it is in our hands to reduce emissions and reduce the problem,” he concludes.
Nez Ibequa, Nigeria. “This is the recipe for hunger”
The warm-up is the first domino. After this the rest fall. Nez Ibequa has been witnessing it for years in his native Nigeria. High temperatures cause 500 hectares less arable land per year. The farmers who make a living from them are forced to migrate or to establish their crops on other land that they already owned. And this is the breeding ground for an environment of tension and conflict among peasants that is increasingly worrying. “In the environment there is so much fear and so much hatred …”, Ibequa laments through a statement. She, like several other participants, was virtually unable to attend due to the unstable internet connection at their residences.
Conflicts between farmers add to product inflation. “As there are fewer and fewer harvests, production is much lower and prices are through the roof,” criticizes the Nigerian. A bag of rice, he claimed, today costs five times what it did a few years ago: “This is the recipe for hunger.”
The activist finds in education the only way to mitigate these ravages. He visits schools and meets with farmers to explain basic concepts related to ecology and climate change and the consequences of this on the environment. “We have to prevent them from emigrating, killing themselves for land … And the little ones must be taught that each person has a role to heal the world,” he says.
Rudo Piri, Zimbabwe. “Most families are forced to sell their livestock. They can no longer raise them “
He remembers his childhood surrounded by trees. He lists some of the corners he played in, the tasty fruits he picked by hand, the mushrooms he collected during the rainy season, and the sound of the river, which carried abundant and transparent water. However, the activist Zimbabwean Rudo Piri no longer recognizes these scenarios. “The water cycles are now unpredictable,” he laments. “We are undergoing strong changes in our country in a very short time.”
It also ensures that as a result of the expansion of landowners and settlers, local communities have had to reorganize and relocate on land with or without any property for cultivation or pasture for their livestock. “Most families are forced to sell it. They can no longer raise them. We are left with the worst part and it is difficult to take advantage of it ”, he says sadly. He does not trust government policies or foreign promises: “That is why I encourage the people of my community to learn to diversify their crops, plant trees, create green spaces and use solar energy. My project is that we do it together ”, he narrates.
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