Environmental Migration and Sustainability: Returnees Advocate for Positive Change
I have personally seen the implications of climate change on the life and livelihood of the Gambian people. It has forced many young people to migrate regionally or internationally. Many young migrants are trying to reach Europe for a better life are often pushed by climate change from their country of origin. In recent years, I have heard of groups of people who have left their villages and towns because of environmental issues, such as the residents of the Banjul coast who migrated because of flooding and coastal erosion that affected their homes.
Environmental issues have been fundamental in my advocacy upon my return from Libya. My beloved country, The Gambia, is facing many environmental issues including extreme climate and weather conditions, coastal erosion and floods. Before working with Migrants as Messengers (MaM), I was working with the Regional Youth Council of Lower River Region for about a year raising awareness about environmental sustainability. MaM gave me the opportunity to continue raising awareness among my peers about environmental issues in The Gambia and explain how we can try to live sustainably. For example, during last year’s World Environment Day, MaM Volunteers partnered up with the Kanifing Municipal Council for a cleaning exercise around the municipality, also sensitizing communities on the importance of proper waste management.
For example, in rural communities, it is quite common for farmers to burn the old vegetation before the start of a new farming season. This not only ruins the nutrients in the soil, but sometimes the fire spreads beyond their farm causing large plots of land to burn up which devastates the environment. In our activities, we let them know about the consequences of this practice. We also share a few things we can all do to preserve the environment, such as reducing, reusing and recycling; cleaning up picking up trash; planting a tree; conserving water; and preserving flora and fauna.
World Environment Day is celebrated with the purpose of spreading awareness about environmental issues. This event offers MaM Volunteers a platform to gather with environmentalists, civil society organizations, activists and youth groups and discuss on a global platform how to inspire positive change in the environment.