By Shafihi Abdulrasheed
The youth has a crucial role to play in building a sustainable future and responding actively to climate. Few ways forward are through education, training, and awareness-raising programs, providing opportunities for youth-led projects and initiatives, and engaging in constructive dialogue.
To tackle climate change challenges and contribute to building a sustainable future. On Saturday, I had the honour to join youth across different walks of life in a Climate Solution Leadership Training #CSLT. A platform that unites positive change makers and gives voice to identify various climate challenges in Kwara State, put heads together to identify practical solutions, and exposed to the practices of climate actions in Nigeria and global level.
Interestingly, Kwara was made a subject of discourse, with my team saddled with working on identifying the challenges in energy and proffering solutions. Given that, the group brainstormed, and shared ideas and the presentation was wonderful. However, before now, I used to know people make use of traditional means of cooking like firewood, crop residue, and charcoal among others. I wouldn’t know the environmental implications and damage it caused to human health.
According to a study conducted by Khadijat Busola and Mathew Olaniyi (2010) on Energy Consumption of Rural Farming Households in Kwara State. 57% of the energy consumed by the respondents in this study is sourced from Fuel Wood, while crop residue constituted only 17.4% of the total energy consumed. However, Kerosene and electricity constituted 2.2% and 23.4% of the total energy consumed respectively.
I felt sorry, knowing the dangers that come with adopting this traditional means of energy generation. At the same time, I thought it is wise to initiate support for millions of people who are in severe energy poverty.
Putting Kwara in the context of climate justice. The state is situated in the North Central region of Nigeria with people of diverse cultures, eye-catching landscapes, and host to about 3 million people. Unfortunately, the state has not been free from the impact of climate change. The last few years had seen Kwara struggled heavily with unpredictable rainfall, soil erosion, and drought. These not only threatened the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen but also other vulnerable communities in the state.
At this juncture, an important fact must be established. That climate change is not peculiar to Kwara or Nigeria alone. It’s a global crisis. Hence, the need for the fair distribution of benefits and burdens of climate change mitigation and adaptation exercises. Sadly, average citizens, marginalized communities, and developing countries felt the impact. However, access to the resources necessary to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions are the reasons for drumming endless advocacy for Climate Justice.
Arguably, the Kwara state economy revolves largely around agrarian and its people rely on agriculture for livelihoods.
Meanwhile, changes in rainfall patterns have led to a serious decline in agricultural productivity. Many farmers are struggling to make a living and food insecurity is pushing concern. To achieve climate justice, priority must be placed on the farmers’ needs and the provision of necessary resources to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Specifically, access to drought-resistant crops, irrigation systems, and information on weather patterns should be available to the farmers’ doorsteps. Access to clean energy is another important area that deserves attention. Much of Nigeria still relies on fossil fuels for energy. Climate experts have suggested renewable energy sources like solar and wind power as an alternative to greenhouse gas emissions.
As a trainee and team member of the Climate Solution Leadership Training organized by International Climate Change Development Initiative Africa, part of the way to address the issue of energy poverty in Kwara is the adoption of clean energy. Thus, providing incentives and subsidies to businesses and households that choose to install renewable energy systems.
Soil erosion and deforestation have led to the loss of fertile land, making it difficult for farmers to grow crops. Talk more about how the agricultural produce would reach the final consumer. Investing in reforestation efforts and promoting sustainable land use practices should therefore be encouraged.
Achieving climate justice in Kwara state is crucial and all hands must be on deck to ensure the well-being of its people and the sustainability of Kwara’s economy. By taking action on climate change, Kwara state can become a model for sustainable development in Nigeria and beyond.
Again, as I asserted during the training, if all these policies, public enlightenment, awareness, and dialogue must witness the light of the day and achieve the desired results, traditional rulers are key factors to be incorporated, for they’re the custodian of culture and they should be made to realize the danger inherent in damaging our climate.
I can see the enthusiasm and strong dedication demonstrated by Climate Change Advocate, Environmental Expert, and Trainer, Mr. Olumide Idowu during the program at Noktel Resorts, GRA Area, Ilorin. It’s a commendable one. I give a wonderful salute to the Kwara State Coordinator of Climate Solution Leadership Training, Babatunde AbdulQodir. We can do more to ensure climate justice. We can do more to achieve a safer society.
Shafihi Abdulrasheed Oladimeji