CoMSSA Workshop in Garoua, Cameroon: Understanding local climate issues and identifying actions to address them
Understanding climate actions
In Cameroon, climate change is impacting every aspect of human lives and its population is becoming more conscious and aware of its effects. Nevertheless, it is not easy to identify the link between the visible and dramatic effects of a changing climate and the solutions that can be implemented to address them.
What is the link between climate change and climate actions? Which specific actions can be undertaken at city level to face the local effects of climate change? These were the main questions raised during a sensitization workshop in the city of Garoua organized as part of the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoMSSA), an initiative funded by the European Commission, Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID).
The workshop was structured as an interactive discussion which involved different actors from the local level, notably the mayors of three Garoua districts, CoMSSA focal points, delegates of several ministries and NGOs. The strong interest and active participation of the stakeholders involved made the workshop a true learning experience for all participants.
The discussion brought up some key examples of climate change issues in Garoua, which will help to start identifying priority actions for the city:
- Deforestation, a major challenge, is a multifaceted problem that cannot be tackled through just one climate action such as reforestation. An essential aspect is to reduce firewood demand, mainly through promoting clean alternatives for cooking.
- Changing rain patterns are affecting the agricultural sector. This year lack of rain during the sowing season and excess of precipitation in the final stages of the cultivation process severely undermined the sector of corn crops, causing significant food and economic losses. Applying diversification and innovative techniques to agriculture is a key adaptation strategy for altered rain patterns.
- During the last years, Garoua has reached temperatures of 45-46 C throughout the dry season. This creates very hard living conditions, especially for that part of the population with no access to cooling systems. For areas that rely on hydropower, dry season is both the hottest and the one subject to power outages that undermine cooling systems. Adaptation strategies will range from planting trees in the city to access to energy sources that can guarantee functioning cooling systems.
Strengthening inter-communality through the development of SEACAPs
Climate change generates issues that crosses borders and therefore it is crucial to design actions for the whole territory of the city, bringing together political leaders of the different districts.
During this workshop the mayors of the three Garoua districts engaged together in the discussion to understand the issues that are affecting their citizens and how to address them. As one of the first steps toward fighting against climate change, CoMSSA promotes the idea of developing Sustainable Energy Access and Climate Action Plans (SEACAPs) at the city level, thereby strengthening inter-communality through climate action planning.
The political commitment of Garoua for developing a climate action plan and implement actions to fight climate change was consolidated during this workshop with the signature of a partnership agreement between CoMSSA and the mayor of Garoua II, who was the frontrunner in the engagement of the city of Garoua in the initiative. The partnership agreement states the importance of the participation of all three districts of Garoua (Garoua I, Garoua II, Garoua III) that, thanks to their mayors’ willingness and determined commitment to working together, the city will be the first one in CoM SSA to develop a pilot intercommunal SEACAP.