The phenomenon of climate change is connected to problems regarding the environment but also to social questions.
During the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP22), associations representing the civil society and non-governmental organizations organized a conference about the impact of climate change on the so-called African diaspora.
One of these organizations is called FORIM and it represents about 700 associations from sub-Saharian Africa as well as North Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbeans and the Indiano Ocean. Founded in 2002 with the support of the French government, its members invite all the components of the French civil society to promote the integration of the international groups of migrating populations, strengthen the relations between France and the countries of origin and contribute to the development of the immigrants’ native regions.
Soad Frikech Chaouih, the Secretary General of Forim, explained that the African diaspora is connected to climate change. “Only in the year 2013, 20 million people left the continent because of problems linked to the climate. In the last year, a million people have left and the numbers are continuing to rise.
Forim gives a voice to the associations that work in the countries of origin as well as the countries that welcome the immigrants promoting their activities. They also support non-governmental groups that help populations which migrate within their own countries and they try to limit the phenomenon of mass migration from the countryside to the cities.
One of these associations can be found in the Imilchil Valley, in Morocco. The association is called Akhiam and its president, Mohammed Moussaui, carries out the association’s work in the Atlas Mountains at an altitude of 7,500 ft.
In this community, the winters are very cold. There are few fields where crops can be cultivated and there is a constant threat of soil erosion and flooding caused by the melting of the glaciers in the area. Imilchil is an agricultural-shepherding community in which, because of these problems, young people are leaving their homes. This is why the diaspora takes place. It’s an inevitable phenomenon.
Akhiam tries to help with these problems by carrying out work in the area with the local people. They build dams to control the movement of the water and they conduct research on the seeds that are used specifically in that area because they are particularly resistant to the extreme climate of the area and the difficult conditions that can be found in this mountainous area and the try to protect the seeds because they are slowly disappearing.
There is also a women’s cooperative which produces and distributes products in the nearby markets. They also teach women who have often never gone to school how to read and write.
During the conference, Adberrazak El Hajri, the director of Migrations & Development, explained that the synergy between the countries of origin and the welcoming countries is very important to be able to combat the phenomenon of the African diaspora. Many Africans that live in Europe only go back to visit their home towns on holiday, which distances them from their roots and their culture. “Much has changed between 2003 and now. When the first emigrants left, there were neither associations nor exponents of the civil society that were capable of developing a local economy that could combat the phenomenon of the diaspora.”
Climate change is closely related to the phenomenon of migration in many ways. It is important to explore these connections and find a clear solution to every aspect. The action taken by the associations of the African diaspora play a fundamental role in this field. These associations must be listened to so that strategic alliances and partnerships can be created between Europe and Africa to stop the phenomenon of the emigration of climate refugees, migrations and climate change.