Most people acknowledge the impact of climate change around the world. But many of us are yet to feel its effects for ourselves. Esso, a campaigner with action2015 in Togo, west Africa, shares his experience of the immediate and unjust cost of climate climate change to his home.
In 2009, Genave, a village in the south east of Togo, experienced severe flooding – 400 houses were lost and more than 1300 people became refugees. Ganave is just one example of how communities in my country are already reeling from the effects of climate change.
Across Togo, climate change is taking its toll:
- Food – 70% of the population in Togo live rely on farming as a their livelihood – drought and floods caused by climate change reduce crop yields and increase poverty and famine.
- Drought – the rise of sea level is leading to a lack of drinking water in southern Togo. Drought in northern Togo contributes enormously to the scarcity of drinking water. The lack of drinking water, associated with hunger, increases the country’s mortality rate.
- More than just the physical effects – climate change affects the Togo in many ways – flood, drought, coastal erosion – but the consequences have an impact on the economy, society and ecology. More people are moving to cities as a result of climate change, which increases unemployment, pollution levels, the rate of prostitution and delinquency. In a country ranked low on the development index, this threatens its progress towards long-term sustainable development.
For those that are already experiencing climate change in their communities, it’s too late to only concern ourselves with preventative measures, such as renewable energy.
Now grassroots groups like mine are helping communities develop early warning measures so that they can prepare themselves for the often catastrophic consequences of these climate-related disasters.
My organisation, Young Greens Togo, supported by Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), is working with women in Genave to plant trees, establish early warning measures and raise awareness of measures within the community.
But there is still plenty more to do. I think the most important thing to do is to establish early warning measures to reduce the risks. It is also important to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable communities to increase their resilience to climate change. This is where we need the support and investment from leaders at the climate talks in Paris.