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Innovation for sustainability in Africa
World Environment Day in Africa the 18/06/16

The World Environment day is celebrated on the 5th of June each year. A time chosen by the United Nations to encourage awareness as well as local and collective action towards the preservation of the environment. Outlined is an overview of best practices initiated or put forward in 2016.



Let us begin from Senegal where a special day was marked on Sunday 5th June at the Hann Forest Park, in Dakar under the theme «Zero tolerance for illegal trade of wild species». Rwanda was the special guest of honour and the minister of environment and sustainable development, Abdoulaye Bibi Baldé, commenced activities by cleaning up the forest park for a number of hours. An essentially symbolic gesture however, the Minister took advantage of it to call on decision makers and all citizens to reduce the impact of human activities on wild species of fauna and flora. «Together, we can face the challenges, preserve our environment and guarantee sustainable development » the minister concluded during the ceremony.

A peaceful march took place the same day at Bargny, in Senegal, a city considered by its inhabitants to be extremely polluted due to recent industrial activities and the presence of a coal fired power plant. The march was under the leadership of the Generation 109 group (or G109), which condemns the lobbying and inaction of authorities. On the contrary «Bargny must be the example of a sustainable city » stated the mayor Abou Seck who participated in the event. According to him, there is the need to find a perfect balance between «economic activity, citizens’ rights and preservation of the environment ».

In Burkina Faso, the Volta Basin Authority marked the 44th world environment day in collaboration with the International Institute for water and environmental engineering (2iE), under the theme: «Seven billion dreams, only one planet. Let us consume in moderation ». A forum has been put in place for the exchange of knowledge and best practice in the area of preservation of the environment and quality of life, comprising presentations on environmental management and a visit to the Kossodo waste water treatment plant. According to Doctor Rafatu Fofana, hydrologist at the Volta Basin Authority, countries along the coast of the Volta would have to come together to manage land degradation, water shortage, loss of biodiversity, floods, waterborne diseases, growth of invasive aquatic plants. It is therefore important to reflect and share effective protection methods.

In the DRC, Congolese NGO Les Amis de l’écologie (Friends of the Environment) have, since 5th June, sensitized people in the Masina municipality to properly manage household and other waste. It has distributed one thousand brochures with pictures encouraging this practice. These brochures in lingala are made up of sketches and names of major household waste such as sachets, food and paper waste,… The president of this NGO, Jean Zaloso, explained that the small gesture was as a result of the absence of resources for a larger scale intervention. «We wanted to involve people of good will to support us to produce 15,000 or 25,000 brochures but the response was not favourable. We started with 1,500 that we were able to produce » he said disappointingly. He however promised to continue this initiative in order to have a better impact in the city of Kinshasa and its surrounding towns. He relaunched his appeal for volunteers according to Radio Okapi.

Other examples are Cameroon, the day was celebrated under the theme «fight for wildlife ». In Algeria, a conference and debate was organized at Setif by the Management of the wilaya environment, in collaboration with the old students association of Mohamed Kerouani, Malika Gaid and the NGO R 20 Med. R 20 is involved in waste management and recycling, energy efficiency and renewable energy, priority areas defined in Algeria’s report at the COP 21. The director general of the National Centre for the development of renewable energy, Nourredine Yassa titled his article «The energy transition, a national priority ». Though these examples appear insignificant, they demonstrate the scope of private and local initiatives taken in the area of environment in Africa, initiatives and actions which prove that behaviour, mentalities and priorities are changing with respect to environmental protection.

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