The Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in collaboration with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, held a 2-day Climate Change Solutions Festival from 26 -27 May 2021, at the Unit’s grounds in Fajara.
The festival focused on climate change solutions and the environmental impact climate change has on our local communities in The Gambia. Partners from 11 senior secondary schools and 10 NGOs from different communities participated in the activities. Each participating group were tasked to come up with solutions and ideas on how to unravel the grave human impact on the environment.
Over 600 students from 10 junior schools within the Greater Banjul Area were invited to attend the festival in groups, interacting with the exhibiting schools and learning about their proposed solutions. The goal of the organizers was to build interest on climate-related issues among adolescents and youth and inspire community action to mitigate against the impact of climate change in The Gambia.
The participating schools proposed solutions to challenges such as bush fires, tree felling, erosion, sand mining, overfishing, and farming practices. The students also used creative methods to demonstrate their solutions, including staging a play on the impact of pollution on public health.
Pauline Scheelbeek, Assistant Professor in Nutritional & Environmental Epidemiology, MRCG at LSHTM said “As researchers, it is extremely important to keep our eyes and ears open and continue to engage with – and listen to – those most affected by climate change. I learned a lot during the festival and am excited to feed this back into our research programmes”.
Fatoumatta Jahateh, a student from Kabafita Senior Secondary School thanked the organisers for inviting her school to participate in the festival. “Events like these help us to understand the impact of man-made activities on the environment. We need to do better as a community and work together to find solutions to minimise the impact”.
Ana Bonell, Wellcome Trust Global Health Clinical PhD Fellow, MRCG at LSHTM thanked all the partners and participating schools. “It was fantastic to be part of this celebration of local solutions to climate change. The passion of the students and their innovative ideas demonstrate how important youth are in our urgent need to address the ongoing climate crisis.”
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