Man can destroy in 15 minutes what nature has put in place for 50 years or more. That’s what pushed me in 1992 to start engaged as environmental activist. In 2004 with a group of young people, we created a local group “Union des Jeunes pour le Développement Durable de la région de Tambacounda” (UJDT). Tambacounda is green area in the eastern part of Senegal at 470 km from the capital city where the greatest natural reserve of the country is located with Niokolo Koba National Park.
As country of Sahel region, Senegal is severely hit by the adverse effects of climate change. Vulnerability is due not only to the importance of climate disruption but also to the sensitivity of the affected communities and their ability to adapt or deal with these disturbances. According to the National Report on Human Development entitled “Climate change, food security and human development,” rainfall should decrease up to 6% in St. Louis, 10% in Dakar, and 23% in Kédougou. Another consequence in the coastal zone is rising sea levels that could lead to accelerated coastal erosion, flooding low-lying areas, increased salinization of soils and water surfaces resulting in loss agricultural land. As in most sub-Saharan countries, agriculture employs 70% of the workforce in Senegal and contributes at 10% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This agriculture is dominated by rain fedcrops up to 96%. These variations in climate and rainfall have immediate consequences, among others, declining crop yields leading to food insecurity.
Faced with this situation and refusing to be amorphous spectators, I and my friends have opted for participation in local community development with concrete actions on the field. UJDT has launched a vast campaign of reforestation, education and advocacy in Tambacounda and Dakar. Over 2000 trees have already been planted in community’s
areas of Colibantang Maka, Malema and Sinthiou Dialacoto in the department of Tambacounda. The advocacy efforts for the protection of Niokolo Kaba Park (which is part of UNESCO World Heritage in but endangered since 2007) have led to an substantial increase in grants for the park from $ 275,000 to 3,000,000 per year. Today, we are fighting to get resources for a group of young men near the Niokolo Koba Park to protect a community forest that has been entrusted.
In 2010, a year marked by a strong awareness campaigns for local communities and school, I joined the 350 movement started and made rich contacts for a successful organization of the Great Work Party on 10/10/10. On that day, 200 trees were planted and students of Gouye college in the town Tambacounda sensitized on the issue of climate change.
A similar activity coupled with a sit-in was organized to celebrate Moving Planet on September 24 to engage more than two hundred students and the young people to become more involved on the front of fighting against climate change. We had invited Colonel Mbemba Amsatou Niang, focal point of the UNFCCC as main speaker. According Amstaou Niang “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 ourselves to prepare for a healthy and sustainable environment for future generations.
For more information on the Sauti campaign, visit here.