PEER EDUCATOR TRAINING
Cameroon is a nation blessed with so many natural resources, these resources range from the trees, the oceans, animals, soil, the aquatic and host of others. These resources are at the availability and enjoyment of all without restriction. The issue at hand is how these resources are been managed and conserved to meet the demands of the future generation or how can these resources be preserved for long term sustainability. Knowing fully well that the younger people are the ones to enjoy these resources. Nurture Youths to Grow Environmentally friendly was initiated since 2011 with a vision to nurture primary school pupils using outdoor, on formal and informal educational techniques to foster environmental beauty for a better sustainability.
The younger children who are the future leaders have to been be trained from now on the need of protecting the environment by nurturing them to grow environmentally friendly to be able to enact and implement positive environmental laws and policies in the future. The Latin word “Ubi societas, ibi jus”, “there is no society without a law” says it all. To be able to better enjoy our resources and protect the environment, there is a need to have laws and policies that guide the management of our resources to meet up with the demands of the future generation. Nurture Youths to Grow Environmentally Friendly was a project proposal is funded by the New England Biolabs Foundation, USA with its pilot implementation in the town of Limbe, South West Region of Cameroon. A two day training workshop was held with Primary school head teacher and the second phase of the project saw the training of Divisional Delegates of the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development and Ministry of Basic Education in the South West Region in 2014.
Phase three was recently implemented in Bamenda, the North West Region, Cameroon. The two days training workshop was held at Alliance Franco, Bamenda on the 19th– 20th March 2015. The participants at the workshop were made up of the North West Regional Delegation of the Ministry of Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development and Divisional Delegates from all seven divisions and the North West Regional Delegate of Basic Education and her seven Divisional Delegates in the North West .Also present were other civil society organizations like CIRMAD, CAEPP-CAM, PARDEC and other media houses like the Cameroon Tribune.
The moderator appreciated the participants for their participation and gave room for the Director of the Organization for Gender, Civic Engagement and Youth Development (OGCEYOD) to express himself. A word of welcome from the Director of OGCEYOD Mr Elvis Wepngong.
An opening speech was presented by the Regional Delegate MINEPDED North West who heartily welcome all to the two days training workshop of peer educators to address environmental problems in the North West Region. He also welcomes the initiative since it targets youths in the primary school sector. He ended his speech by saying “The Bible even tells us to train up a child in the way he should grow and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Young minds are fertile grounds for any meaningful strategy and development. The focus of the workshop is to train peer educators who will in turn reach out to primary schools in their respective Divisions and train school representatives to run out door environmental educational activities with pupils. Environmental clubs will be created at the level of primary schools and this will go a long way to instill into these young minds the notion of environmental protection, conservation and sustainable management of the environment.
The natural environment and its biological resources provides mankind with live supporting services including the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the medicines for our health, the material for fuel and construction – name it! Therefore, the conservation of the biological resources is an obligation for all of us. Unfortunately, in the course of fulfilling these obligation, we have been facing a lot of challenges some of which are natural and most of which are man-made. Environmental problems are not a new phenomenon as most of us here present are already aware of the un-desirous effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, desertification, land and soil degradation.
These environmental problems are making life on earth unbearable resulting in water shortages, acid rain, loss of plant and animal species. The importance of the environment is such that despite the degradation that has taken place or is going on, action needs to be taken for the restoration of what had been degraded and lost.
The North West Region has of recent witnessed water shortages in the dry season due to human activity. The following environmental problems are associated with the North West Region:-
- Deforestation for agriculture, fuel wood and constructional materials resulting in land degradation processes such as erosion, soil compaction by animals, soil fertility depletion and the disappearance of sacred forests and shrines;
- Increased temperatures (Global Warming ) and climate change.
- Water shortages due to the removal/replacement of vegetative cover of water catchments and watersheds by eucalyptus trees.
- Stray animals resulting in the spread of disease and destruction of crops.
- Invasion of grazing land by bracken fern;
- Haphazard urban settlements patterns;
- Uneven distribution and variation in rainfall patterns;
- Low agricultural production due to soil fertility depletion and changing weather patterns;
- Waste management and soil and liquid waste disposal problems;
- Bush fires resulting in biodiversity loss and extinction of species;
- Flooding and landslides resulting in the loss of life and property; and
- Pollution of air and water bodies by liquid and solid waste.
The list was not exhaustive as it was seen during the course of this training workshop. Change of altitude towards the environment in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss is needed. With the changing climate, every other thing will change making it difficult for humans to achieve the MDGs. Our changing altitude will include:-
- Avoid slash and burn agriculture in favor of sustainable agriculture methods such as agro forestry and permanent farming systems;
- Practice proper waste management involving the treatment and recycling of waste;
- Stop the reclamation of all our wetlands (biodiversity hotspots) for either agriculture production or construction.
In all our actions to mitigate climate change or biodiversity conservation, let think globally and act locally for both global and local benefits. During the workshop discussions were focused on some key topics like:-
- The concept of biodiversity and conservation of natural resources;
- Ecosystem and ecosystem services;
- Sustainable waste management; and
- Update environmental manual.
The delegates are expected in your respective Divisions to reach out to primary schools, create environmental clubs and train school representatives to run out door environmental activities using environmental manual put at your disposal.
Some Questions and Answers Include:
Question: To achieve better ways of waste management: is there a department that controls proper waste management?
Answer: Decentralization, the Ministry works with the local councils so they enforce these powers. The councils go to the field to trap some of these waste mismanagement activities. The sub-directorate in the Ministry of Environment also controls the management of waste. NGO’s too are called upon to carryout activities to help manage waste.
Question: is there no way to make plastics dissolve without necessarily burning.
Answer: there is no chemical to dissolve plastics but rather use the 3Rs, Super mon company is responsible for the collection of these plastics (though it is not done). Brasseries signed a decree to collect plastic bottles alongside other companies. The iron company collects iron.
Question: We talk of dumping, what about drainage?
Answer: if we are conscious not to dump then we would encourage drainage. The rate of plastic usage should be reducing. Let the city councils work with the environment for they are technical assistants. We should love our environment and nurture youths to grow environmentally friendly.
Question: why not concentrate on peace than the environment?
Answer: if the environment is not healthy eventually there is no peace, so we should protect the environment.