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|A frontline perspective on tackling drought from Togo|
|Saturday, 24 March 2012 00:48|
Kossivi Adessou, a GNDR member from Togo working with JVE (Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement) highlights the problems being faced in the frontline battle against drought:
“The forest is gradually decreasing as the desert advances from the north. People are cutting down trees but they have no other option for fuel. This isn’t sustainable but it’s impossible to plan for the long-term when each day is a struggle for survival. It is poverty that is increasing vulnerability and only by tackling poverty can disaster be averted. Serious tree planting activity, coupled with more effective use of water resources would reduce the impact of droughts in the future years. The wood and charcoal that people are using as a source for energy needs replacing.”
Supported by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Adessou’s organization is bringing together government and community representatives to work in partnership to tackle the need for reforestation and reduce the risks of future droughts.
He explains: “These activities must be really planned and include strong sensitization activities with community-based leaders to help change the behavior of communities towards the environment. In some parts of the world, adapting to climate change is seen as an option. But here at the frontline of drought in northern Togo, it isn’t an option – it’s critical for our survival right now.”
Key features of JVE’s work include supporting communities with more effective carbonization so as to make scarce resources go further, improving cooking stoves to conserve energy more efficiently, and working closely with young people encouraging them to plant and maintain trees.
Adessou emphasizes: “Planting trees will feed the hungry! We are working closely with young people – the next generation - to encourage them to plant and maintain trees which will help to mitigate against future drought and provide food security for years to come.”
Adessou highlights the impact of climate change and calls others to action:
“The south and central areas of our country are wetter during the year than other parts and this water is not distributed effectively. But the impact of climate change can be clearly seen - although this drought is currently more sensitive in the north, in the south it is also easy to feel that the weather is drier and the raining season is seriously changing.
For African leaders and communities, local and international organizations, governments and donors, now is the time to save what is savable, and protect what is still possible, in order to reduce poverty in our region. This is no time for speeches - let us get into action!”