Saffron Bowtell, Project Support Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales, offers her summary of this workshop on practical responses to climate change in sub-Saharan Africa, which took place at our Summit.
Carol Adams, Managing Director of Food Adventure Social Enterprise Ltd and a member of the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel, led this workshop. She introduced the workshop by discussing the disproportionate cause and effect relationship of climate change in this region, citing that sub-Saharan Africa contributes 4% of total worldwide greenhouse gases but that 67% of the region are climate change hotspots. Carol highlighted the complexity of sub-Saharan Africa due to its size which means that different areas are impacted differently by Climate Change and thus require different solutions. Carol then introduced two speakers, Joe Robinson and Lorna Brown, to discuss some of these impacts and how they are being resolved through reducing deforestation and introducing solar power.
Joe Robinson, FROM Wales
FROM (Fisherman’s Rest Outreach Malawi) Wales is a UK-based charity that supports its partner organisation, Fisherman’s Rest Community Project, on projects in Malawi based on needs identified by the local communities. Joe highlighted its project to tackle deforestation, which has affected the region through reduced soil fertility, a loss of biodiversity, and increased flash flooding and landslides. The FROM Wales project created by-laws in partnership with local stakeholders, and trained residents to identify and plant indigenous species and make clay-efficient ovens. This has reduced deforestation in the area and improved livelihoods through climate resilience. In addition to its work in Malawi, FROM Wales educates Welsh schoolchildren on how their lifestyle decisions can impact lives in Africa.
Lorna Brown, Dolen Ffermio
Dolen Ffermio works closely with Ugandan communities to improve their quality of life. Lorna presented a project in the Ngora district, which is a rural area struggling from the impacts of climate change through excessive heat, drought, and uneven rainfall. Lorna spoke of residents using kerosene lanterns, which pose fire, health, and climate risks, and therefore of the need to shift to alternatives. Working with local stakeholders, locally manufactured solar lanterns were introduced, which successfully and substantially reduced the use of kerosene and provided opportunities for training and knowledge in this field.
Participations in the workshop
Participants were asked to discuss in small groups what could be done to reduce the climatic impact of their work, and how they can better support the communities they work with to adapt to climate change. This led to a group discussion around reassessing business-as-usual assumptions, such as reducing unnecessary trips to Africa or introducing sustainable catering options. The need to further empower partner organisations in sub-Saharan Africa to ask for what they need and suggest how Wales can help was also emphasised. As one participant said: “There are many facets of climate change and climate change work and people are all impacted differently and require different solutions.”