As part of activities at the ongoing United Nations Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), a group of environmental activists has released a documentary highlighting the impact of climate change on frontline communities.
In the documentary titled: Climate Change: Africa’s Cooked and Sinking Communities, the climate crusaders, highlighted the threatening impacts of climate change in Taita Taveta County; Kenya, Kambele; Cameroun and Ayetoro in Ondo State, Nigeria.
The documentary, put together by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation (CAPPA) exposes the impact of mining and oil extraction in the communities, reinforcing the call for a Loss and Damage mechanism that will address the plight of local communities across Africa, who suffer the most excruciating impacts of the climate crises.
In a statement issued by the Media and Communication Officer of CAPPA, Robert Egbe, the group lamented that in the context of the UNFCCC process, Loss and Damage is the harm caused to human societies and the natural environment by human-generated climate change.
It explained that in Kenya’s Taita Taveta County, the documentary tells the moving story of drought in a community once known for agriculture and animal husbandry. The hitherto agrarian community has been transformed by climate change into arid terrain where farmers are compelled to adapt by becoming emergency miners, further exacerbating climate-related challenges.
A resident of Taveta, Gideon Ndambuki, pointed out the harsh drought in the community, saying: “This land which you are seeing here was used for farming for all of our lives. But things have changed. We used to plant cassava here, we used to plant sweet potatoes and plant green grams here.
“In the last three years, we haven’t gotten anything from this land. We have been waiting for rain for all this time, and it has not rained. So, this land now is no longer productive, this land is no longer suitable for agriculture due to changes in the climate.”
In Kambele, residents have battled landslides, unprecedented heat and irregular weather patterns as a result of indiscriminate gold mining. Close to 150 persons have died from landslides and open pits dug by gold miners. That is aside varying degrees of the health challenges residents battle daily.
A native of Ngaland Le Trois, Kulu Nduanghan Florin, explained the hardship caused by mining-induced changes in weather patterns, adding: “The first problem is that of the climate. We are in October. Since I was born, we have always known the month of October to be the rainy season.
“The sun hardly came out, but now we are experiencing climate change. I am wondering whether if this continues till December or January, are we going to live in the swamps? Besides, we used to experience flu during the dry season, but since the Chinese arrived with their toxic chemicals, we no longer know when the flu starts or when it ends.”
For Ayetoro, it is the sad story of a city sinking because of ocean surges. This, according to the locals, became aggravated immediately after oil extraction facilities were installed close to its shoreline.
Oba of Ayetoro, HRH Oba Ojagbohunmi Oluwanmbe, said: “In the latter part of the 80s when oil exploration started, our people noticed that it used to be a normal cycle of the sea to take a few portions of land away and after six months, it would add that same portion or even more; that was normal.
“But, in the latter part of the 1980s, our people noticed that the rate at which it was taking the soil was higher than the rate at which it was returning it.”
CAPPA stated that the plight of the communities and several others across the continent reinforced the need for sustainable climate finance for the continent.
Executive Director of CAPPA, Akinbode Oluwafemi, said: “These sad stories make it imperative for COP 28 to come up with a predictable, democratic and sustainable mechanism for operationalising the Loss and Damage that will address the impact of climate change in frontline communities across Africa. The West owes Africa and the global south climate debt. The time to start paying is now.”