GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – Africa is at the forefront of climate change. Nowhere is this more evident than Lake Chad, which covers almost 8% of the continent and provides for tens of millions of people. The UN says it has shrunk by 90% since the 1960s due to drought.
The resulting competition for resources has caused poverty and conflict. More than 10 million people are dependent on humanitarian aid.
Oladosu Adenike, 27, has witnessed the tragic transformation of Lake Chad in the first place. She is a prominent champion of climate change in Africa and started the Nigerian campaign “Fridays for Future” and joined the global movement after meeting the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
Adenike is one of several young African delegates who traveled thousands of miles to Glasgow, Scotland, to be part of the COP26 climate summit and to convey their sense of urgency to world leaders.
“The peace and stability of this region – in the region of Lake Chad, Sahel – it depends on when we can restore the lake and be able to say that people can get sustainable livelihoods, so that they can not be vulnerable to join armed groups of people. And this will also improve democracy in the region, she tells VOA.
Adenike is an official Nigerian youth delegate at the COP26 summit and has addressed senior delegates about the need to act quickly. But she says she is frustrated with slow progress.
“We are still in the dialogue phase. We have not yet moved to the action phase, which is needed right now, and do not postpone it to the future. Because that is the most dangerous thing you can do right now. Delaying now is a denial of the climate change crisis,” said Adenike. .
Kaluki Paul Mutuku is a youth delegate to Kenya. Like Adenike, he is a prominent young voice in the fight against climate change in Africa.
Extinction Rebellion activists protest at Muizenberg Beach in Cape Town, South Africa, on November 6, 2021.
“We are constantly in fear of losing our family members, of losing our communities because the climate is dry – it is getting worse every day – there is drought, there is extreme rain and communities cannot bear it,” he told VOA.
“In 2019, we had a huge grasshopper invasion that took over our cultivation plantations. We had huge floods in Nairobi, which killed so many people, and just this year we have lost so many people’s lives due to famine and famine,” he said.
Mutuku said that the provision of climate finance – the money that rich countries have agreed to pay poorer nations to adapt to climate change and reduce carbon dioxide emissions in their economies – is the most important result of COP26. The 2009 promise to pay $ 100 billion a year has still not been fulfilled.
Costume protesters take part in a demonstration in support of victims of oil exploration and against investments in fossil fuels in Africa during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), in Glasgow, Scotland, on 7 November 2021.
“How do we finance to avoid emissions in Africa? How do we equip societies with the resources and money to really adapt to climate change, and how do we ensure that we provide them with climate protection?” he said.
“We can not afford to lose hope. And as long as young people, grassroots and our frontline societies are leading the decade of change, then we are on the right track. For me, any delayed funding is a shame on (world) leaders,” Mutuku told VOA.
For young activists from all over the world, it has been a long journey to COP26 in every way. They say they will continue to fight for climate justice long after they return home.