*Ecosmart Climate Action Initiative Concludes Conference Raising Awareness On Urgent Action Against Climate Change*
A non-governmental organization committed to enhancing health and environmental conditions, Ecosmart Climate Action Initiative (ECAI) has concluded a crucial conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital which seeks to raise awareness on the urgent need to address the impact of climate change in Nigeria and Africa, particularly with regards to health, air quality, and food security.
The event, which attracted experts from health, policy-making, and agricultural sectors held at Top Ranks Hotel Galaxy in Abuja on Friday, February 9.
The founder of Ecosmart Climate Action Initiative, Sonia Somuvie in her welcome address noted that climate change largely affects the welfare and productivity of both rural and urban dwellers, insisting that adequate attention has not been paid towards proffering a holistic and long-term solution to the issue.
According to her, climate change has a great impact on food security, especially with the increasing concern on land health, desertification, desert encroachment, land degradation, and how to reverse them organically without upsetting the balance of nature.
She said the country will face good crisis in no distant time if frantic efforts are not put in place towards addressing climate change.
Somuvie also unveiled the organization’s strategy to plant 50 thousand trees annually in regions susceptible to both natural and human-induced desertification as part of their efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. She announced that the initiative would commence before the year’s end.
Also speaking on the focal topic, Dr. Ayorinde Olusanya David, a medical professional specializing in preventive medicine, emphasized the alarming lack of urgency in addressing climate change.
He highlighted the increasing unpredictability of weather patterns and its profound impact on health, noting a shift in the types of diseases encountered in hospitals. Dr. David pointed out the direct correlation between climate change and persistent malaria symptoms, attributing this to the conducive breeding conditions for mosquitoes in hotter climates.
He pointed out the pervasive influence of climate change on daily life, including its detrimental effects on mental health, particularly for individuals already grappling with mental health issues. Dr. David stressed the imperative for widespread discourse and action on climate change, urging not only engagement in formal forums but also conversations within personal and professional circles.
“Climate change has worsened to the point where predicting the weather is now very difficult. From a medical perspective, the types of diseases encountered in hospitals are also changing. Many people have been treated for malaria up to three times in four months, yet symptoms persist. The truth is, there is a direct link between climate change and the current malaria symptoms experienced. In tropical areas like ours, the weather becomes hotter, making it very easy for mosquitoes to breed.
Ugo Ejidoh, an environmental health analyst and public health advocate, addressed the critical aspect of air quality in the context of climate change. Ejidoh emphasized the significance of air quality monitoring in combating the deteriorating climate, noting the absence of such monitoring systems in Nigeria, which hampers data collection efforts.
In her words, “A major problem we are facing in Nigeria is the absence of air quality monitoring. Without this, gathering data is difficult. It is through the monitoring system that we obtain data to relay to stakeholders and help people understand the gravity of what is happening.
“Air quality monitors are crucial tools for countries to safeguard public health by detecting harmful pollutants such as particulate matter, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide. By monitoring air quality, we can assess the impact of human activities on the environment, identify sources of pollution, and implement measures to mitigate them, thus protecting ecosystems and wildlife”.
Speaking from the perspective of policymaking in combating the effects of climate change and ensuring a safe environment, Dr. Michael Nwoko, a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the United Kingdom, a member of the American Public Health Association, and a Senior Special Assistant on Health Monitoring to the Delta State governor, acknowledged that climate change is one of the biggest challenges the world is currently facing.
In Nigeria, Dr. Nwoko stressed the need for a sustainable and renewable environment, emphasizing the importance of taking recycling initiatives seriously and fostering a cultural orientation that aligns with climate change action. He advocated for structured systems to be implemented, even at the local level.
Samuel Robert Kwasari, an Agri-Business Generalist with a focus on management and operations and a keen interest in machine learning, delved into the issue of food security in relation to climate change.
Kwasari emphasized the often-overlooked aspect of food quality when discussing the impact of climate change on food security. He stressed the importance of nutritional value alongside quantity, lamenting the absence of a nutritional plan in Nigeria compared to more advanced nations. He highlighted the prevalent use of excessive chemicals by farmers, posing risks to both the environment and consumer health.
He said, “Often, when we discuss the impact of climate change on food security, there is an aspect that we tend to overlook – food quality. As a farmer, I am not only concerned about food quantity, but I am primarily concerned about its quality, particularly its nutritional value. It is unfortunate that our country lacks a nutritional plan, unlike more advanced nations. Yet, many farmers use excessive chemicals to grow food, endangering the environment and the health of consumers.
“Regarding the impact of climate change, it is unfortunate that my sector – the agricultural sector – is the second-highest contributor to climate change after fossil fuels. Consequently, my team and I are taking action to address agricultural practices. We have committed to growing 100% natural food, with zero chemical inputs in our practices.
“This approach will not only improve the quality of food but also have zero negative impact on the environment. We aim to achieve this through ecological agriculture, known as agroforestry, where edible plants will grow alongside trees.”I