The Sierra Leone School Green Club – a new dawn for environmental awareness in Sierra Leone

Alhassan Sesay

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 September 2017

The Sierra Leone School Green Club (SLSGC) is an indigenous Community Based Organization, established in 2015. The organization is engaged in climate change sensitization and mitigation strategy across Sierra Leone.

The organization began as the challenges of climate change started to affect local communities in the country. Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world; and climate change is having a drastic impact on the livelihood of the already underprivileged communities.

Our vision is to see a greener sustainable environment for all the inhabitants of planet earth (plants and animal). And our mission is to educate the people of Sierra Leone in an effort to create awareness on environmental issues; lobby the political class; engaging in activities that are environmentally friendly and sustainable, in a bid to reversing climate change; engage in civic education, behavioral change and attitudinal change among young people

The Sierra Leone School Green Club has been successful in achieving grassroots participation in Climate Change resilience strategies. It has also succeeded in influencing public opinion about climate change in communities.

Our audience includes educational institutions, local government and non-governmental organizations and local communities that are directly or indirectly affected by climate change.

So far we have worked with the following schools: Huntindon Senior Secondary School, SALAM Secondary school, War Wounded Secondary School, Kelly’s Secondary, Joy Primary and Secondary School, the EDEST Primary School, and others.

We hope to have a common agenda in the fight against climate change and make the world and our communities sustainable, in the utilization of our natural resources in an environmentally friendly way, so that development can reach the poorest in society.

Our philosophy

The philosophy of the Sierra Leone School Green Club is being promoted through three main objectives: The development of a dedicated and sustainable relationship with the local communities; contribution to the development of the social, economic and political life of people, taking into cognizance the environment and its resources; and the integration of local climate change lobby organizations and international bodies.

Our license

The Sierra Leone School Green Club is a registered organization with the Rural District Council as a Community Based Organization (WARDC/CBO/009). We are also accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security and other line ministries in Sierra Leone.

The philosophy behind the creation of the Sierra Leone School Green Club stems from the premise that the livelihood and very existence of the people are at stake. Climate change education is very much limited and so does not yield the desired result.

But as climate change becomes a hot topic for debate around social and political circles around the world, Sierra Leone a tiny country in the West Coast of Africa must play its parts in the fight against climate change. Climate change has had a devastating impact on the existence of people engulfed by poverty, illiteracy and deprivation.

Sierra Leone has two main seasons – the dry season which stats from October to March and the raining season which starts from April to September. Livelihood and agricultural productivity depends on the weather patterns. However, the change in weather patterns over the past five years, has shown tremendous shift in rainfall and sunshine distribution.

Massive flooding, drought, crop failure and intense wind velocity are phenomena that always catch Sierra Leoneans by surprise.

There is a lack of environmental education to explain this to the lay man, as the country has a low literacy rate of about 34%.

The rebel war in 1991 brought about a large influx of rural dwellers into the urban cities, which increased the demand for space and resources. Freetown for example experienced mass deforestation of the Peninsular to make way for houses – mostly poorly built, makeshift homes.

As Sierra Leone emerges from the war, rapid economic growth and development followed. A number of foreign companies flooded the country for its natural resources. In the process came the degrading of the environment. Many companies like Sierra Rutile, London Mining, and Koidu Holdings for instance, have degraded the natural habitat with huge effect on the environment.

With such a grim prospect for the environment and eco-system, something must be done to instill in people the responsibility toward sustainable development and environmental impact in the country.

The work of the School Green Club

The school green club was established to mitigate the challenges faced by climate change and its impact on society and communities across Sierra Leone, by targeting schools where young potential scientists can cultivate knowledge for and about the future.

School children are ambassadors for change. As most of the school children come from illiterate homes, having them engaged in environmental education will help disseminate the information to their families, neighbors and communities. Through this, a multiplier effect can be achieved in educating the Sierra Leonean population about the environment and the effects of climate change.

The Sierra Leone national school curriculum pays little attention to environmental education and protection at primary and senior secondary levels. The School Green Club has been established to robustly fill the gap, so that we can have a concerted approach in dealing with climate change education in Sierra Leone.

We have targeted 10 schools in the Waterloo Rural Districts and formed school clubs on climate change and environmental issues. These clubs share experiences and success stories about their work on climate change and environmental education. We organized quiz, competitions and drama shows – all in our quest to disseminate the message of climate change and its effects, and how to manage its impact.

Successes

We have succeeded in raising awareness about environmental issues at primary, junior secondary and senior secondary schools. We have succeeded in forming school green clubs in 10 schools within the Waterloo Rural District, including the Huntindon Senior Secondary School, SALAM Secondary school, War Wounded Secondary School, Kelly’s Secondary, Joy Primary and Secondary School, and the EDEST Primary School.

We have identified endangered communities within our operational areas for possible intervention. This includes, afforestation for deforested areas, recycling for improper waste disposal, and sustainable agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly.

We brought together community leaders on World Earth Day on the 22nd of April, 2017 to train them on Climate Change and environmental issues. We were able to bring together 10 schools for tree planting on Mandela’s Day which took place on the 18th of July, 2017; and have left a legacy for all the participants who are now recognised as ambassadors for environmental education.

We have been able to engage in social media on environmental education, which is attracting more following especially among the youth.

Challenges

We are faced with many challenges in meeting our targeted aims and objectives, which include inadequate funding to implement projects that have been identified as felt needs; inadequate data, insufficient teaching and learning materials on environmental education and/climate change.

We also have limited professional and technical expertise to help deliver our projects and achieve all our aims and objectives.

The Sierra Leone School Green Club is located at 6B Cashew Farm, Jui, Freetown, Sierra Leone. You can email us, visit us Facebook, or call us to offer help:

sierraleoneschoolgreenclubs@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SLschoolgreenclubs/

Tel.: 00 232-88-330-605; or 00 232-78-494-967;  00 232-77-701-087

 

Editor’s Note

kindly donate to our Freetown Flood Disaster Emergency Appeal. We’re raising £50000 to help victims of the massive flooding in Freetown, Sierra Leone, which took the lives of over one thousand people, with thousands now homeless.

Please go to our JustGiving Crowdfunding Page and help make it happen:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/freetownflooddisasteremergencyappeal?utm_id=2&utm_term=RP2Xbe26B

 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks brothers and sisters, especially those who manage the history of Sierra Leone.After all the catastropies which had swept freetown, we need not blame anyone but the politicians. I do hope the next government will be able to help ease the situation our young generation who have no hope and cannot depend on the present government to do anything but to help foster their wealth. This time eduction is less important as it is used just as scape goat to blame the youths.
    We must understand that if Politicians are not in to help, there is no one eslse to do so. MAY GOD BLESS YOU,AND ALL SIERRA LEONEANS.There is not much to say now but next time.

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