Whilst the 1981 African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Constitutions of many African countries provide for the right to a clean and healthy environment and an obligation for states to protect the environment for present and future generations; much of Africa suffers from serious environmental challenges and problems that have had devastating economic, social and political impact on African people and continues to do so.
Deforestation, water pollution, depleted fishing stocks, soil-erosion and desertification are some of the environmental challenges that affect Africa due to activities such as a mining, oil exploration, poor management of toxic waste, industrial agriculture particularly the usage of harmful fertilizers, pesticides and the inability of many African governments to deal with these issues effectively.
Food insecurity, soaring food prices, water shortages and limited agricultural lands are some of the consequences of these challenges that have heightened tensions and conflicts and led to increases in migration out of Africa. Africa will be most affected by climate change and it is estimated that close to two hundred million Africans will die by the end of this century as a result.
Africa’s environmental challenges are also a global problem and requires a global response and international solidarity. Our guests to discuss these issues are two prominent African activists who are part of the network called “One Struggle, Many Fronts”. They are here in the US on a nationwide tour, the very first of its kind, to highlight Africa’s environmental challenges, build solidarity and forge relations with concerned activists for a clean and healthy environment as a human right and a must for our continued life on earth.
Emem J. Okon is a community organizer and a women's rights advocate from the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. She is the founder and Executive Director of Kebetkache Women Development & Resource Centre and organized women to resist oil drilling by Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil in the Niger Delta. In 2002, she and 600 other women successfully shut down Nigeria's largest oil production station for 10 days through a nonviolent occupation.
Mithika Mwenda from Kenya, is the Secretary - General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), which he co-founded in 2008 to mobilize the voices of millions of unheard Africans in the climate debates and United Nations climate negotiations. PACJA is now Africa's largest climate network with 300 member organizations in 45 countries. He works around the clock to raise awareness and to bring poor people’s united voices to the table on environmental issues.
Between March 20 and April 3, One Struggle, Many Fronts will visit Detroit, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Oakland, Berkeley, and Atlanta. Multiple events are planned in each city. Some of the event hosts are long-time Africa solidarity activists. Others are community environmental justice groups, and others are student fossil fuel divestment activists. Each event is tailored to its local audience, and many local activists will be included as speakers
One Struggle, Many Fronts will build bridges. The tour will inspire US environmental activists to think about African struggles. It will inspire Africa solidarity activists to think about environmental justice. It will build real connections between these groups and African environmental justice organizations. Finally, it will strengthen the US-Africa Network for future projects. This is just the beginning.