As the Africa Climate Summit (ACS2023) got underway at the Kenyatta International Convention Center in Nairobi, Kenya, on September 4, 2023, Civil Society Organizations staged a March to offer a platform where the voices of people affected by climate change could be heard.
CSOs felt that the ACS2023 was a forum for governments and corporations, not the people hard hit by the menace, hence establishing the Africa People’s Climate Assembly.
Hundreds of people from different African countries gathered at Nyayo Stadium Indoor Gymnasium, where the March began. The procession entered Aerodrome Road and snaked through Uhuru Highway and onto Haile Selassie Avenue into Green Park, where speeches and entertainment were made. The crowd was dotted with placards written with different messages addressing governments and corporations perceived as responsible for fueling climate change by exploring fossil fuels and industrial agriculture.
The People’s Assembly brought President William Samoei Ruto, the host of ACS2023, under scrutiny for implying to be part of the solution to Climate change by asking Kenyans to plant 15 billion trees, but at the same time, his government has officially allowed deforestation, it is eyeing the production of nuclear power, and he champions importation of chemical fertilizers and genetically modified food.
ActionAid International was allowed to launch her research findings on How the Finance Flows: The banks fueling the climate crisis.
The report named banks in Europe, America, and Asia (China) funding the exploration of fossil fuels and industrial agriculture as the biggest culprits for climate change.
Whereas the ACS2023 was talking about the carbon market (not that it is not important), the People’s Assembly focused on the defunding of the root causes of climate change.
The People’s ACS2023 instead offered the use of renewable energy and agroecology- farming systems that work with nature rather than destroy it.
ActionAid International Secretary General Arthur Larok insisted that interventions must be people-centred, not profit-driven.
Here, smallholder women farmers from Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe shared their experiences of how the climate crisis has affected them and their communities, and how they are adopting. They all indicated that they resorted to the agroecology model of food production. They shunned away from using chemical fertilizers because it kills the soil, affecting the production of quality food and that it only focuses on large quantity of yields, leading to more profit and compromising people’s health.
Corporations from the Global North have made Africa dependent on chemical fertilizers, which is killing Africa’s soil, hence, the continent is becoming a net food importer instead of producing it.
Susan Otieno, the Executive director of ActionAid International Kenya, stressed that it is time Africa refused to be colonized again.
“We don’t want to be colonized again!
“We want solutions that work for us and are designed by us. We want solutions that put us at the forefront and not to be dictated to, to be told how it is done because our forefathers had solutions that worked with nature, and we’re friendly to nature.
We (Africa) want to produce food without destroying the environment,” said Susan.
She also implored the people of Africa and their governments to speak in unison and demand systems change to attain real change.
Author: Mary Consolata Makokha, Communications Officer ActionAid Kenya. Edited by Ezra Kiriago ,Communications Coordinator ActionAid Kenya.