Cameroon wins 2019 WWF award
Monique Ntumngia (below), founder of ‘Green Girls’ in Cameroon, which instructs educated young women from rural communities on the use of renewable energy, has won this year’s World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), International President’s Youth Award.
The award acknowledges outstanding achievements of young people under 30 who are making significant contributions to nature conservation.
Since its founding in 2015, Green Girls has trained almost 800 women from 23 communities across Cameroon to generate solar energy and biogas from human waste.
More than 3,000 households have been provided with biogas, while more than 100 households have had solar installations fitted. Young women are taught how to promote sustainable development and become financially independent.
Indeed, as well as her outstanding contribution to development in her country, the award is also a recognition of Monique’s efforts to champion the inclusion of women and girls in the renewable energy sector.
On receiving the accolade, Monique said: “It’s been my good fortune that Green Girls has allowed me to combine two of my great passions: sustainable development and female empowerment.
“Renewable energy is an essential part of any solution if we are to meet both Africa’s future energy needs and the environmental challenges that lie ahead. Today’s youth will be at the forefront of meeting these challenges and women will have a central role to play.
“Thanks to the tireless work of my team and the boundless enthusiasm of countless young women, we’ve managed to make some significant progress and it’s truly humbling to be recognised for our work.”
Nigeria’s endangered forest elephants Compared to their savannah cousins of East and Southern Africa, West Coast elephants are much harder to see.
Nigeria’s Omo forest, some 100km from Lagos, is home to around 100, which live in heavy bush and are very shy.
A team of young people have dedicated their lives through the Forest Elephant Initiative to protecting the large mammals, which are becoming endangered.
“Removing trees in the elephants' habitat is exposing them. So it displaces them from their original home to somewhere else,” said Emmanuel Olabode, the initiative's coordinator.
Much of the forest is a protected biodiversity site, but a section is also open for legal commercial activity undertaken by workers in local villages. Although these activities put the animals in danger, for the locals, the forest is also their only means of survival.
“I was unemployed. That’s why I came to settle in the forest. I cleared a little corner to plant cocoa, and I harvest it and sell it. So growing cocoa here is the only way I have to feed my family,” said an agricultural worker.
Keeping a balance between the activities of the locals and the safety of these animals has become a major challenge for the rangers. The survival of the last Nigerian forest elephants depends on their success in keeping this balance.