Tuesday, 29 November 2011

YOUTH CLIMATE ACTION IN SENEGAL: ONE TREE AT A TIME

Africa Storytelling Project


Mbemba Doucouré lives in Senegal, West Africa. Mbemba began his work as an environmental activist in 1992, driven by the need to address issues such as climate change in order to leave behind a healthy planet for future generations.

As with many countries in Africa, Senegal has been severely hit by the adverse effects of climate change. “Vulnerability is due not only to the level of climate disruption but also to the sensitivity of the affected communities and their ability to adapt or deal with these disturbances”, says Mbemba.

Agriculture employs approximately 70% of the workforce in Senegal, contributing 10% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Up to 96% of the agriculture in the region is made up of rain reliant crops. The variations in climate and rainfall have had immediate consequences for communities in the region, including declining crop yields and food insecurity.
“Faced with this situation and refusing to be amorphous spectators, my friends and I have opted for participation in local community development with concrete actions in the field”, says Mbemba.
In 2004, along with a group of young people, Mbemba created a local group named Union des Jeunes pour le Développement Durable de la région de Tambacounda (UJDT). Tambacounda is lush vegetative area in the eastern part of Senegal, located about 470 km from Niokolo Koba National Park, the largest forest reserve in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Centre now considered to be endangered.

Since 2004, UJDT has successfully launched a vast campaign of reforestation, education and advocacy in Tambacounda and Dakar. The organization has planted 2000 trees in the Colibantang Maka, Malema and Sinthiou Dialacoto communities surrounding Tambacounda. 
In 2010, a year marked by strong climate change awareness campaigns for local communities and schools in Senegal, Mbemba joined the 350.org movement. Working with others, he helped successfully organize the Global Work Party on 10/10/10, planting 200 trees and engaging students of Gouye College in the town Tambacounda about issues surrounding climate change. Mbemba organized a similar activity coupled with a sit-in to celebrate Moving Planet this September and engaged more than two hundred students in the fight against climate change. 
“We had invited Colonel Mbemba Amsatou Niang, focal point of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) as main speaker. According to him ‘the underestimation of the impacts of climate change are now a threat to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.’ This event was a great step in the goal we set for ourselves to prepare for a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations”, says Mbemba.



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