Youth and Women Lead the Charge: A National Dialogue on Climate Change in Cameroon

Cameroon recently concluded a landmark event, the National Youth and Women-Led Dialogues on the Challenges and Opportunities of Climate Change Adaptation. Held on June 13, 2024, this groundbreaking dialogue brought together young people and women representatives from civil society, policymakers, academia, and key stakeholders to share experiences and propose solutions for climate change adaptation.

 

  • The Focus on Youth and Women

 

Like many developing nations, Cameroon is grappling with the severe impacts of climate change. Rising temperatures, erratic rainfall patterns, and extreme weather events pose significant threats to agriculture, water resources, energy access, and communication. Women, who often bear the brunt of responsibilities such as food production and water collection, are particularly vulnerable. Meanwhile, youths, who will inherit the long-term consequences of climate change, must have a voice in shaping a sustainable future.

 

  • Empowering Voices for Change

 

The dialogue aimed to empower young people and women in Cameroon to become active leaders in developing and implementing climate adaptation solutions in their communities. Key objectives included:

 

– Identifying and prioritizing national challenges and opportunities for youth and women-led climate adaptation initiatives.

– Amplifying the voices of youth and women in regional and national climate change policy discussions.

– Foster collaboration and build networks among youth and women climate action leaders nationwide to facilitate knowledge exchange.

– Creating a platform for young people and women to share their knowledge, experiences, and innovative ideas for adapting to climate change.

– Encouraging the development of community-based adaptation projects led by women and youth.

 

  • The Road Ahead

 

The dialogue’s success hinges on concrete follow-up actions. Will the government translate these recommendations into tangible policies? Can young people and women turn their ideas into on-the-ground initiatives? These questions will determine the lasting impact of this important conversation.

 

  • Highlights from Presentations and Discussions

 

Mme. Essomba Edwige Atangana Mendzana emphasized the need for youths and women to understand Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and align themselves with government priorities in developing climate-sensitive activities.

 

In his opening remarks, Eugene Nforgwa, Director of Programs at ACSEA, stated, “Climate change adaptation is a critical challenge, and we have no other option but to deal with it.” He added, “We need to start thinking from within and develop solutions that are specific to our communities as far as adapting to climate change is concerned.”

 

Dr. Henry Njakoi noted, “Every community should improve on functioning traditional mechanisms before seeking resources to scale up community-led climate adaptation initiatives.”

 

Grace Limunga Sama, Lead at SME Business Development Services, said, “By involving men and women in the conception and implementation of community-led climate adaptation initiatives, we can benefit from a wider range of experiences and knowledge, leading to more effective and sustainable solutions.”

 

  • Call to Action

 

Beyond the challenges posed by climate change, the dialogue was a wellspring of ideas. Participants proposed several strategies for community-led adaptation initiatives, including:

 

– Developing drought-resistant crop varieties.

– Promoting the development and use of bio-fertilizers.

– Creating partnerships and cooperations that can fund community-led initiatives at the local level.

– Investing in water-harvesting technologies.

– Strengthening early warning systems for extreme weather events.

– Promoting climate-smart agricultural practices.

– Educating communities at all levels—children, traditional rulers, and faith-based organizations—on techniques for developing community-led initiatives.

– Encouraging the reuse of water.

 

The national youth and women-led dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of climate change adaptation in Cameroon was central to ensuring inclusive climate action. By bringing these often marginalized voices to the forefront, the dialogue served as a drawing board to shape national policy on adaptation, paving the way for a more resilient and sustainable future. It empowered communities to adapt and thrive in a climate-challenged era.

 

  • Closing Remarks

 

In his closing remarks, Afanyu Yembe, Head of Policy Advocacy and Communications at ACSEA, praised the energy of the young people and the resilience of the women as they seek to adapt to climate change. “Let us carry the momentum from today’s dialogue into our respective communities, continuing to advocate for and implement sustainable adaptation strategies. Together, we can harness the potential of our young people and women to build a resilient Cameroon in the face of the climate crisis,” he added.

 

This dialogue marks a significant step forward in Cameroon’s fight against climate change, showcasing the vital role that youth and women play in leading the charge towards a sustainable and resilient future.

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