We did a World Earth Day event on the 24 April, 2017, at our Appropriate Technology Enabled Development (ATED) Center on the premises of our Economic Development Center in Warri, Delta State. It was a day full of interesting discussions with educationists, climate change activists, agriculturalists, students, and everyone in between. In this post, Florence Egbejule helped organize the event, and reflects on what she learned from that event.
We need to address the knowledge gap on climate change
This event really drove home the need for there to be more information on climate change. There needs to be more awareness, because right now people think it is all about weather, and it is really not. When you don’t fully understand what is at stake with regards environmental sustainability and the impact of climate change it is very hard to galvanize any energy around addressing it.
Something that we tried to do was to address the issues in a very practical way. That was why we had our Market Development team bring in people who could tie in the impact of climate change to agriculture. Dr. Israel Yusuf, a fish farmer we work with who is based in Ughelli and runs a radio show on best practices in aquaculture, talked to the audience about how farmers are affected by climate change. He talked about how climate change affects the acid levels of the water in a way that can be hazardous for fish. Many fish farmers have had their fish die as a result of the water being too rich in iron, something that never used to happen. Even in poultry, the weather sometimes gets too hot for the birds, and some birds die. Farmers sometimes have to get ice and try to cool the water that the birds drink. Climate change is not just some abstract thing, it affects our lives.
People Came Ready to Share and Learn!
The audience was wonderful. We had students from schools nearby. Others that came were from the Renewable Energy and Environmental industry in general such as: waste management companies, agricultural Input companies, Agro-dealers, and Cassava farmers, and farmers. We also intend to invite some members of the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria -Delta State Chapter, tertiary institutions, local govt representatives, state ministries of environment and education, members of the Delta State House of Assembly, members of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN). A young girl came to talk to us about climate change and sanitation issues, and she did so well. Her name is Favour, and she goes to Dore Numa College right here in Warri. She talked about the importance of more education on climate change among young people, and also about the importance of even adults taking good hygiene practices seriously. I was really impressed by her commentary. Someone from the audience shared an experience about poultry dying as a result of exposure to heat and said that Yusuf’s presentation was illuminating for her.
3 Collaboration Is Key
It came out clearly from the event that no one organization can effectively address climate change alone. It is something that we all need to do together. That is why our recent partnership with Federal University of Petroleum Resources in Effurun (FUPRE) in Warri, Delta State, is very important. That partnership was actually brokered following last year’s World Earth Day, which also led us to include a panel discussion in last year’s Niger Delta Development Forum (NDDF) in Owerri, Imo State. We are hopeful that this year’s event will also lead to some interesting outcomes. Already, we have gotten an invitation to another event and have received enquiries from Delta State University on possible collaboration.
We showed everyone who came to the event a tour of our Appropriate Technology Enabled Development (ATED) Center and –as it usually happens – people were very interested in the biodigester. This is a machine that enables one turn organic waste to gas that can be used for cooking. Luckily, we were holding a brainstorming session on the promotion of the biodigester the very next day, so many people who came to the World Earth Day event showed up. They joined us as we strategized towards making this technology more widely available and provided suggestions on how we can strengthen outreach on the biodigester. We even all worked on an audience analysis, which will be useful as we work towards the marketing communications plan for the work going forward. Everyone contributed to a communiqué that contains all that was discussed and I can’t wait to harness all this energy towards the kinds of collaborations we need to promote technology and practices for environmental sustainability throughout the region.