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From Despair to Action in Cameroon's Environmental Crisis: Reflections from ISEC Cameroon workshop

With the recent increase in flood occurrences, one wonders if there is hope for humanity. On a daily basis, we wake up to the reality that crop yields are decreasing, poverty rates are climbing, numerous landslides are causing mass casualties, and city temperatures are skyrocketing at an alarming rate. The most tragic realization is that the younger generation, who will endure the worst consequences, is uninformed about what is causing these disasters and is not learning the necessary skills to handle them. Where then do we lay the blame? Is it on schools which neglect teaching these youths, communities who are silent, or the government who drags its feet on taking action?

While I was reflecting on these possible causes, and contemplating on my next move, the International Student Environmental Coalition Cameroon (ISEC) offered me the chance to participate in a workshop on environmental education and civic engagement for climate action leadership.

Prior to the workshop dates, my mind was filled with wandering thoughts and a need to be part of the solution. Firstly, do environmental educators in Cameroon possess the knowledge and skills required to mentor and empower youths who are prepared to combat climate change, or is it the government's lack of urgency that is preventing them from providing essential resources? Secondly, do environmental professionals and educators collaborate across different cities in our country to accomplish a mutual goal, or is the level of civic involvement lacking in Cameroon? Perhaps certain professionals or charitable institutions have embraced the vision and enacted practical initiatives to boost environmental education and community engagement in Cameroon.

 Was the hype surrounding the workshop justified? Absolutely!

(image: a section of participants at the workshop. photo by ISEC Cameroon)

It was a few minutes past 8 a.m. in Cameroon when 40 participants from ten different regions of the country gathered in the workshop hall at the Royale Palace hotel in Bonaberi, Douala. I couldn't help but notice the culturaldiversity of these participants. The second thing that was hard to ignore was how hot it was outside the air-conditioned room. As I stood in awe of the rapid heat enveloping our cities, the voice of the executive director of ISEC, Ashangwa Harrison, suddenly captivated my full attention as he gave a rundown of the workshop’s agenda. As the speakers went through their slides, participants unabated curiosity led to a constant stream of questions and comments from all sides. Encouraging students to uncover the visible consequences of climate change in their local community in order to foster a strong connection with the environment through environmental education. Due to this rationale, Dr. Lamfu Fabrice elaborated on the consequences and actualities of climate change-induced emergencies impacting Africa, especially those confronted by Cameroon.

Additionally, he highlighted the opportunities available for young individuals and guided how they could participate and maximize their potentials. Recognising the value of interpersonal skills in fighting climate change, it is essential to prioritise environmental education as a crucial factor in addressing these challenges and driving positive change in our community. The workshop ended with the  kickstart of  a group project, underscoring our emphasis on moving beyond discussion and taking concrete steps towards addressing climate change.

The workshop was impactful, a lot of knowledge was disseminated but the puzzle still remains, how timely was this? How effective can this knowledge be used to remedy the situation?

The impact of this workshop go way beyond that of people who merely come together to discuss climate change without a reassurance of a better world. My satisfaction levels are through the roof, because the workshop exceeded my expectations and now I can smile because there is hope for humanity. As I collaborate diligently with my team on our group project, I eagerly anticipate expanding the reach of the environmental clubs which I oversee in various schools. Moreso, recognising that the challenges in my neighbourhood can be overcome with education and expertise, I am committed to developing the skills and knowledge needed for success. Ultimately, I will maintain ties with those who share similar views, while actively seeking international possibilities.

By Nsangou Rudolf Njumamvue


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