Climate change is advancing in Nigeria: we can’t keep running

Youth-led climate strikes across the world have injected remarkable momentum into demands for climate action. But according to guest blogger Ridwan Bello, if young people in Nigeria are to join this global push, they need more knowledge about the causes and impacts of climate change.

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Insight by 
Ridwan Bello
Ridwan Bello is a student at Jigawa State College of Education in Nigeria
17 December 2019
Cattle are driven down a road by nomads

Fulani cattle are driven into Lagos from the north of Nigeria (Mary Gillham Archive project, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Earlier this year, IIED launched a monthly blog series on our Facebook page where we invite our followers – focusing particularly on our younger audience – to write for us about their experiences. This month’s topic was the global climate strikes: we wanted to learn more about whether and how our followers in countries across the world were getting involved...

Last week, world leaders gathered at the United Nations negotiations in Spain to discuss ways to tackle the climate emergency. During the climate talks we again saw young people across the globe make a united stand against the inaction on climate change. Here I would like to share how climate change is playing out in my own country of Nigeria.

We are a diverse people, coming from different backgrounds, and living in different types of nature. But climate change does not distinguish. It does not recognise who you are, where you come from or what you have to do to make a living: climate change is out to get us all.

People in the north are nomads and have to forage for what they eat and for food to feed their animals. The weather is erratic – the sun getting hotter and hotter, and the rains unpredictable. People pray for rain but for weeks it does not come. Then at the end of the season it arrives – heavy, overwhelming and more rains than you can count.

This has forced many nomads to migrate from one environment to another. Over the years, the migration has brought about much insecurity and clashes over land between the different nomadic groups and the farmers. Many people have died.

Blessed with rain. And floods

In the south, people are blessed with rain much earlier in the year but suffer a lot from floods and land erosion; farmers there gain very little from their work. When nomads migrate down from the north for survival their animals eat the farm produce – this leads to further conflict and rioting around those farming communities.

We have seen the climate strikes led by the world’s young people, but what of climate change protests in Nigeria? Yes, some people are protesting. Some NGOs in the local area are creating small movements, but you don’t see things happening on a big, organised scale.

Yes, people might discuss the issue, but often only in casual conversation. Folk might talk about the weather more generally – about the heat that grows, about the rains that don’t come…

The truth is, people still know very little about the subject of climate change. We are experiencing it, we are growing up with it, we are running from it, and we are dying from it. But we don’t understand it, so we don’t talk about it.

The issue isn’t covered in newspapers, on the radio, or on the TV. Many believe the weather changes we are experiencing are a natural phenomenon: they don’t recognise that humans are causing these changing patterns, and they don’t know what do to about it.

Setting a climate change curriculum

We need more information, to build more knowledge, to learn what is causing climate change and how we can adapt. High schools, universities, polytechnics and colleges have a big role here: climate change must be embedded into their curriculums, so students can learn more about the causes and the impacts.

Young people are Nigeria’s future – if they understand more about how the changing climate is effecting our nation’s health, environment and economy it will motivate this next generation to join their young peers across the world to own the issue, and to act.

This blog was originally posted on IIED's Facebook page.

About the author

Ridwan Bello is a student at Jigawa State College of Education in Nigeria. He is a poet and writes about environmentalism, with a particular focus on environmentalism in modern African literature

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