Blog entry | 10-11-2022 | Others about BZ . work
Drought, extreme heat and short rainy season. The Sahel region of Africa is severely affected by climate change. Kevin Dibama lives in Burkina Faso, one of the region’s poorest countries. As a local expert for the NGO World Waternet, he is committed to protecting the water supply and its quality.
Dipama sees the consequences of climate change being clearly visible on the African continent. The average summer temperature was around 38 degrees Celsius, but now it’s warmer than 40 degrees. Also, the rainy season used to last six months and now only three. The kinds of plants and trees my father used to see could no longer be found in Burkina Faso.
“Water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges we face,” Dipama says. A large part of the population of Burkina Faso subsists on agriculture or livestock. The lack of water, especially in the dry season, leads to poor crops and animal deaths. “This makes everything very expensive in Burkina Faso, especially vegetables that are unaffordable for many people.”
In order to combat climate change, Dipama says, the world must work together. It is important to share experiences with each other. We don’t have to deal with the same problems in every country, but we can find a solution more easily together.
Dipama often works with Dutch experts. Dipama: In Burkina Faso, World Waternet has projects in the field of water management and water quality. We share knowledge with Dutch experts and monitor local projects from Burkina Faso.
polluting gold mines
Water reservoirs are essential to the agriculture and population of Burkina Faso. During the rainy season, the excess rainwater is stored in these basins. More and more of these reservoirs are at risk of drying out, needing renovation, or becoming polluted. For example, through gold mining.
Therefore, World Waternet is looking for solutions, says Dipama. Gold mines often use chemical agents. If these substances end up in water tanks, this could have serious consequences for human and animal health. Through the “Gold Project” we are looking at alternatives and seeing if it is possible, for example, to use plants to filter water, so that the water quality does not deteriorate further.
The ‘Golden Project’ is funded through the Blue Deal programme, a collaboration between the Dutch Water Boards, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Blue Deal aims to solve global water problems.
Plants can help improve water quality, but they are also a threat to water reservoirs. Many reservoirs are infested with invasive plants. These plants absorb a lot of water on their own and kill animals in the water. We like to remove the plants as quickly as possible, but that’s easier said than done. They are growing very fast.
Young people are often the ones who come up with creative solutions, Dipama notes. “A friend of mine, for example, composts these plants. The farmers can then use this to fertilize their land. In Burkina Faso we have a lot of young entrepreneurs who are full of creative ideas.
Dipama sees an important role for young people in the fight against climate change. They are often not familiar with the concept of climate change here. As young people, we need to explain this, stress its importance, and come up with creative solutions. For example, by showing that planting trees is not the only way to combat carbon dioxide emissions.
Dipama actively advocates for the Voice of Youth. He is a member of the Youth Parliament of Burkina Faso and the Youth Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Together with nine other young people, he advises on Dutch development policy.
From November 6-18, leaders from more than 200 countries will gather at the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP27), this time in Egypt. During COP27, the Netherlands will draw special attention to water as a solution to climate and resilience.
Dipama hopes that concrete action will follow from the negotiations in Egypt. “It is important not only to consult, but also to take real steps. It is good to exchange ideas, but we also have to look at what we can do concretely to combat climate change.