Environmental group urges African governments to rise against COVID-19, Climate and Health crises

SNID monitoring in Niger, 13-16 June 2008. Niamey, district Aéroport I and II

By Nathan Nwakamma
Yenagoa, Aug. 7, 2020 The African Climate Justice Group (ACJG) has called on African countries and institutions to respond urgently to climate, health and COVID-19 crises facing the continent.

ACJG, a coalition of over 300 African and international organisations and individuals made the call in a statement by Joyce Ebebeinwe, Programme Officer, Health of Mother Earth Foundation on behalf of the group in Yenagoa on Friday.

The group said that it was starting a week of action commencing with an advocacy to some key continental institutions.

The institutions include UN Environment Programme, African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN) and UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Others are African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, African Development Bank Group (AfDB), World Health Organisation Africa Region and AFRO, sub regional institutions, and national governments.

The group observed that COVID-19 pandemic had exposed and was exacerbating existing inequalities in the globalized neo-liberal and patriarchal socio-economic system.

It said that the looming social and economic crises across Africa could lead to a major food crisis as informal markets are shut down and African livelihoods are being affected.

ACJG noted that along with this, the climate crisis continues to ravage the African continent and so many parts of the world.

“Both the COVID-19 and the climate crises are human-made, rooted in the way our political and economic systems driven by the lust for profit, treat the Earth and her people.

“Transnational corporations (TNCs), in collusion with African governments and other elites, operate with impunity and with disregard for people and the planet.

“Their activities have impacted livelihoods of local communities by grabbing lands and capturing natural resources, including through carbon markets and other harmful false solutions.

“They have polluted our air, water, lands, bodies and communities,” it stated.

The group regretted that structural adjustments, austerity measures, dismantling of the state and of public services, cuts to social services, privatization of essential services and indebtedness, have ensured that African states have the least amount of readiness to respond to crises.

The body called for action to support essential services, food, water and healthcare system; reorganisation from the economy, support and reemphasise social care work.

It demanded an end to all fossil fuel and extractive projects and preserve human rights; and suspension of austerity induced by debt crisis.

ACJG advised developing countries to avoid the debt trap and accept funding support as grants and not loans, arguing that industrial activities of developed countries amounted to ‘climate debt’.