Africa has been asked to focus more on its health infrastructure as well as the unending effects of climate change to be able to manage emergencies and crises of the Covid-19 magnitude now and in the future.
This came out in a key note speech by Dr Ibrahim Choji, the Chair of the Board of Trustees at the PACJA’s Nigeria platform Climate and Sustainable Development Network (CSDevNet) in Nigeria. The speech also covered the recent happenings on Earth Day in Nigeria.
Choji at the same time took pride in the many acts of kindness shown by people from all walks of life, with PACJA staff actively involved, saying this was a sign of a united front against the deadly disease that was first discovered in Wuhan, China last December.
“The current situation strengthens our belief in the importance of health infrastructure and climate resilience to safeguard human wellbeing as well as the environment and economy upon which we depend,” said Dr Choji.
The platform took the opportunity yesterday to send messages of sympathy to families affected by the novel coronavirus in and outside Africa.
“We particularly acknowledge the sacrifices made by health care workers and others ensuring other critical services remain available throughout the crisis,” he said.
Choji commended the Nigerian government for its quick response to the crisis, adding: “This has also demonstrates our ability as a Nigerians to respond rapidly to imminent dangers, as we must also do to combat other unprecedented threats to our countrymen and women, such as climate change, accelerating biodiversity loss and growing national inequalities.”
The nexus between the climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic has been a hot topic recently, with a webinar recently held by PACJA highlighting how the two expose Africa’s underbelly when they strike.
Speaking during the Webinar, Dr Mithika Mwenda, the organisation’s Executive Director, said time had come for the world to give the climate crisis the attention it deserved. “These two kill so many people. It is a twin crisis for Africa, which is still grappling with several other issues, including poverty, lack of infrastructure, inadequate literacy, disease, hunger, and now flooding,” he said.
The same sentiments were echoed by Augustine Njamnshi, the coordinator for the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA), who wondered why suddenly there was money to mitigate the Covid-19 effects, yet climate had been killing masses.
Dr Choji, while observing Africa’s precarious situation considering the problems that were already bedevilling it before Covid-19 struck, said CSDevNet was committed to continue working closely with governments, private sector and other non-State actors to further strengthen national and regional frameworks for sustainable and resilient health infrastructure and to scale up the implementation of Nature-Based Solutions.
PACJA, through CSDevNet, and in collaboration with WelfareAid Initiatives, Nigerian Civil Society Framework for Paris Agreement and SDGS (NCSFPAS) is currently providing solutions and leading the way by creating awareness on the Covid-19 and donating some hand washing facilities across Nigeria.
“This is in line with our commitment to unifying and coordinating isolated civil society efforts on sustainable development in Nigeria in order to ensure people-centred response mechanisms are accorded desirable attention and relevance as climate resilience is increasingly mainstreamed into national poverty reduction and sustainable development strategies and actions,” said Choji.
He expressed hope that with partnerships, the course of the pandemic could still be changed, “even if that means addressing fear and inaction”.
Choji added: “As we mourn all those who have lost their lives and the many families who are suffering, we must show solidarity with the most vulnerable – the elderly, the sick, those without reliable healthcare, and those on the edge of poverty.”