(Cover photo: Flickr/CIFOR)
As you land into Cameroon’s economic capital Douala, the reality of climate change, environmental degradation and pollution are very visible. Cameroon being a very diverse country with regards to climate and environment change, it has numerous and diverse challenges regarding the care for the earth as our common home, with the Northern provinces, which is semi-arid, is struggling with rapid desertification. Central, South and East, combating deforestation and the destruction of the rich biodiversity of the equatorial rain forest, while, the grass-fields of the North-West and west Regions are grabbing with soil degradation, excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers, deforestation, and soil pollution.
What is striking about Cameroon is that the level of awareness about environmental issues, and its effects are still very low, more so, among the poor who are always victims of climate change cause by human activities. The notion that we are all related and that the earth is a common home for us all, plans, wild animals, water creatures, microorganism, humans etc is still to be accepted and appreciated. The earth is still seen as a tool to be exploited, miss used and abuse. Though there are many official NGOs fighting climate change in Cameroon it seems to me that their effort have not reach the common man.
Sad enough to know that even the church has done very little to sensitize and create awareness among its faithful of the impending dangers when we neglect to care for the environment. As a result there is a need for an urgent response to rescue the situation. Cameroon with its rich biodiversity possesses diverse challenges and the big question would be: who to start this process of sensitization? How, when, where and with whom?
Being a priest, my first audience, and target, where the faithful I preach to and I was amazed at the enthusiasm and willingness of the young people to join in this battle to combat climate change. I made it a point to encourage young people to be part of the Lautado Si generation. I attended youth rallies, I had live program on Radio Veritas (A Radio Station own by the Catholic Archdiocese of Douala) to share with young people, and it seems clear to me that the train of change is on the move.
With the ground work done, and with many youths ready to be part of the Laudato Si generation, we are waiting eagerly for Allen and David in September 2019 to help us build the core group of CYNESA Cameroon chapter.