By Kaossara Sani
The world system in its dominance has created two blocks, one of which is distinguished by extreme wealth and the other by escalating poverty, which continues to grow. But without a root, a tree cannot stand. The Global South is cruelly impacted by the dominant, imperialist monetary system, and the capitalist system is set to create more wealth by exploitation and the maximisation of profits.
Nonetheless, the Global South represents the root of the world and of our carbon-based civilisation. Without the Global South, there are no wealthy countries. There are now more than one billion people spread across Africa, Latin America, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean who are not only facing extreme poverty, but war, conflicts, violence, and climate and ecological breakdown.
In Africa alone, rising temperatures will tip millions of people into extreme poverty and hunger if we don’t act quickly. Already, more than 320 million Africans do not have access to safe water. Lake Chad is drying up, Lake Victoria, the Niger River and the Nile River are dying in silence. Deforestation is ubiquitous across the continent. By 2035 the Congo Basin forests will lose their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and the entire planet will lose the second largest carbon sink in the world. Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Sao Tome Principe, Guinea and Senegal are all threatened by coastal erosion due to rising sea levels.
The desert never stops moving. Drought, floods, natural disasters and locust invasions weigh heavily on the lungs of the African economy and agriculture. More than 25 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa are at risk of food insecurity. But still, climate change is not a problem prioritised by the elites in wealthy and industrialised nations. For them, climate change is still a dystopian story, a dialectic for the future. While my trauma is already here today.
My name is Kaossara Sani. I am a peace and climate advocate, the co-founder of the Act On Sahel movement and the founder of Africa Optimism. As youth for peace and sustainable development, I am advocating for the Sahel region in Africa with Act On Sahel, and working to provide clean water and climate literacy across the continent through Africa Optimism. Over the past few months, I have worked hard to encourage climate action by providing water access to farmers and vulnerable communities in Togo, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
No doubt, I share a difficult fate with billions of people affected by poverty and climate change. And my fate is even more challenging as a young woman and activist who is trying to restore the balance in our fragile world. Alas, I always imagine myself lucky in the midst of all the young girls and women who are also struggling to give hope and change the world and who unfortunately can’t do it because of the respective gender barriers they face.
Despite all the challenges that I have to face in my daily life as an African female activist, I decided to act. To raise my voice and show the world that those who are least expected to act or be heard are not voiceless. I want to show the world that although those of us living in poor countries, in the Sahel region, in Africa or elsewhere in the Global South are most affected by the impact of climate change, we are still human beings. We may represent the belt of hunger, thirst and poverty, but still, we are human beings and we do not deserve to keep paying the hardest price of climate change while those who are creating it are still burning fossil fuels to increase their wealth.
It should be emphasised that any action relating to an element of our global system has repercussions on the whole system and the whole world. It is really useless for activists, environmentalists, and nature lovers living in rich countries to play the hero wanting to save Africans or the poor. Whatever we do we are all in on it, nature is very unpredictable and does not look at the colour of our skin before it hits. The deadly floods last year in Germany are just one example. No one is immune to climate change and there is no consistency in identifying as a person dedicated to nature, contemptuous of people of colour or worse, pretending to support conservation, environmental and climate projects with funds from the same people or organisations that burn the planet with fossil fuels.
I profoundly believe that change always comes from ordinary people, not the leading class. That is why despite my pragmatism, I am still optimistic even though the future scares me. The climate movement is building hope, and people are coming together, from all around the world. Creating a web of connections where we feel linked to each other and to nature.
This blog is part of the Action Today for Tomorrow Series within SEI’s environmental justice research. The blog series highlights the work of activists at the vanguard of climate justice in 2022, with a focus on the grassroots and national environmental justice perspectives of those working to create climate solutions around the world. It is curated by Research Assistants on the Creating Just Food and Energy Policy project, Hannah Della Bosca (SEI) and Oli Moraes (RMIT).
Kaossara Sani is a 27-year-old peace and climate advocate from Togo, West Africa. Kaossara is the co-founder of the Act On Sahel Movement and the founder of Africa Optimism. The Act On Sahel Movement challenges fossil fuel interests, provides and campaigns for clean water in the region, and advocates for the wellbeing of the Sahel people. Kaossara works with a network of climate activists from Sahel countries to provide seeds to farmers affected by the climate crisis. Africa Optimism is a program that aims to create libraries for local schools and to combat climate change in Africa through education.
Header image: desert of Niger, Niamey, Sahel by mbrand85 via Shutterstock ID 1241730409.