A report on a social climate change action in West Africa

Patrice Assiongbon Sowanou

Posted May 19, 2020

Hospital ship MV Africa Mercy, off West Africa

Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenager, is very active in climate change campaigns. Obviously. She made it all clear to the United Kingdom’s parliament the consequences, such as a rise in Earth’s temperature, high risk of environmental pollution and the impacts on our planet if actions were not taken or reinforced.

Being in Africa, on the other side of the world, it is very difficult to say if any serious action has been taken against climate change. The fact is, from the top leaders on down, people seem ignorant of the scourge.

In Benin, my country, we should ask ourselves if we really have knowledge about climate before thinking of any possible action. In 2014 AVAAZ, a humanitarian organization, mobilized many people in Cotonou, especially the youth, for a climate change campaign.

Three weeks earlier before this campaign, a series of trainings were undertaken. The youth were well informed about the emergency related to climate change. All in attendance came to realize how careless environmental practices in daily life and the excessive use of plastic causes serious damage to our planet.

The objectives of the campaign are to call the attention of everybody on the imminent dangers. Television, radio stations and newspapers relayed the tremendous work AVAAZ was doing. The campaign took place on the main street and ended up on the widest beach of Cotonou. Men and women were dressed in white and green T-Shirts with a sole call: SAVE OUR PLANET.

For more than four hours of walking the number of walkers increased. Many people joined the queue. It was the biggest campaign of information about climate change in Benin. Under a hot sun, the marchers kept walking, and passing out flyers. Groups of the Red Cross were in charge of bottled water distribution. Not a single bottle or flyer was wasted or thrown on the street. All possible trash was carefully disposed of.

Fidjrosse beach was the last stage of the campaign. Many groups were at the beach to remove any kind of trash, plastics, papers, bottles. In the space of an hour, the beach was completely cleaned up in a way it had never been before.

To the great surprise of everybody, the Minister of Environment made his way with his people to the center of the gathering. In a shaking voice, he managed to deliver a message of gratitude to the planners of this campaign. He saluted the initiative of AVAAZ and promised to do his best to effectively insert the climate topic in the government.

At the end of his speech, the founder of AVAAZ folded the message, put it into a calabash and threw it into the sea as a symbolic imminent call to humanity for action.


One response to “A report on a social climate change action in West Africa”

  1. Celine Avatar

    Great work to AVAAZ and your people who generated a new consciousness. Now that Covid-19 has taken over in the consciousness of us all, the work is not over. We use way to much plastic in the industry of goods and alimentation. Here in Canada, Greenpeace the equivalent of AVAAZ helps us make that change and awareness of what we wish to see in the future. Great article and hope a change in Africa and all over the world. Thank you to Greta!