My Climate story is intertwined with my identities

My Climate Story begins with my ancestors crossing the Kala Pani (Black waters) Atlantic Ocean from India to British Guiana as part of the Indentured Servitude. Some came through being captured, some because they were promised lands in British Guiana, and most came without understanding the contract they had signed. My ancestors came to replace the recently freed African slaves. Labor was needed to tend to sugar plantations in the Caribbean and to feed the Europeans who had already profited from the benefits of a capitalist world and cheap labor.

     My story begins here because my ancestors knew how to farm the land. My climate story begins here because my ancestors were resilient and I am fighting for my small coastal country to prepare itself and become resilient to climate change impacts. My climate story begins here because the injustice of climate change has the worst impacts faced by those who contributed the least to the problem. My story begins here as I think about my sisters and brothers in the Small Island and Development States (SIDS) who are already suffering from climate disasters.

     Up until this point, my life was split between growing up in Guyana and spending my late teens and early adulthood in the United States. Two vastly different environments, but both showed clearly the impacts of climate change and environmental injustices. I have seen floods swallow up my tiny city, Georgetown, in 2005. Rates of death from asthma in the Bronx are about three times higher than the national average. Hospitalization rates are about five times higher. This can be directly attributed to pollution. In 2012, I saw that even megacities like New York can be crippled by hurricanes like Sandy. 

     For most of my life, I had no other choice but to get involved in ways to make our planet a more liveable and sustainable place, while prioritizing justice. In every generation, there is a cause to fight against. As someone interested in social justice, I see the connection between climate change on all issues related to justice. Rejecting and rising against the current state of the Earth is the fight of my generation and it is the most important fight we have ever fought. This is not an easy fight, and we live in a time where climate change is still being debated by our leaders, even though those affected continue to cry out for changes in our system.

     Patriarchy, colonialism, racism, and classism are a part of my story. I believe that these are systems that need to be dismantled for us to achieve a just and sustainable world. In my role as a climate advocate, I want to center the voices of those most vulnerable in particular women, youths, and people of color. Speaking from my experience, women face significant challenges that make it impossible for them to participate fully in the discussion that impacts their livelihoods. When climate disasters strike they are the most vulnerable, in Guyana one in every two women experience intimate partner violence. The challenge is complex, it is one that is based on the survival of women and the survival of the planet. 

     The world is crippled by COVID-19, which can be seen as a direct call to repair the relationship with the natural world and to build back better. It is time to build back in a way that is just and equitable for those most vulnerable. Climate change and COVID-19 are justice issues. 2020, a new decade, the beginning of all things new, must serve as a wake-up call for systems change, for radical change in the way our society operates. 

     My generation is the last to act on climate change. My generation is also witnessing the effects of climate change impacts. I care about this issue because I know that within my lifetime, these events will worsen. This is an issue that brings anxiety to those younger than me. 

     When my ancestors were brought to British Guiana, they worked the land for the benefit of the colonizers. What would they say if they knew that those same crops (sugar and rice) are now being threatened by the climate change impacts such as flooding, saltwater intrusion, and increased pests? I was born into this land and fell in love with it, but this land is vulnerable to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, flooding, heatwaves, air pollution, storm surge, droughts, and deforestation. 

     My ancestors were resilient, and so I believe I can be resilient too. There is much despair and loss but there is also hope, compassion, and revolutionary love that comes from everyday citizens who are committed to making the planet a better and more equitable place. This is my climate story, a story that started with my ancestors, a story that I hope has a positive ending for the generations that come after me. 


The Far North Region of the Republic of Cameroon is the northernmost constituent Area, threefold victim of phenomena such as the Islamic sect Boko-Haram, the Covid-19 pandemic and most importantly the devastating effects of climate change.

Our mission, (fully funded by Global Youth Mobilization and conducted by YUNIBF in early June 2022), took us to the village of Mora in the Mandara Mountains in the far west of the Mayo-Sava Division which is home to the “Kirdi” people. Down there, I witnessed an unexpected climatic situation with serious effects on the environment and human development.The month of June, previously a cool, rainy period characterized by intense rural activities such as farming maize, millet, sorghum, cotton groundnuts…(the main occupation of the indigenous population of the region), is no longer identified as such and that is the observation my team andI made during our sojourn in the Mayo-Sava Division.

The Mandara Mountain. Here lives the indigenous community Moura, often called (Kirdi)

The period of our stay was characterized by a strong heat wave reaching 48 degrees Celsius and a rarity of rain ever recorded so far. This year, the area had experienced its very first rain at the beginning of April, thus simulating its early return. This risky simulation was going to deal a hard blow to the population, for it will unfortunately have them misled. In other words, there will be no rain until mid-June (months later), when farmers had rushed to go and sow immediately after the first rain of the year. Lady rain will not return, jeopardizing hundreds of tons of seeds underground, destroyed by a fiery and merciless sun. More than 80 percent of seeds will die from lack of water. The heat is scorching, water is becoming scarce, the lakes are drying up, drought is intensifying, food reserves are dwindling and fear of the worst intensifies. That situation is likely to increase food crisis, malnutrition, environment destruction, and school disruption in the short term. Climate change effects are even threatening peace and harmony in the community and can force millions to move southward in the long term if nothing is done.

Seeds after a month and a half of first rain                            Lakes soon to be completely dried up.

On a mission in the area to empower indigenous populations in tackling the phenomenon, my team and I collaborated with the local authorities towards inclusive, sustainable and achievable solutions. To this end, an awareness, training and action program has been jointly developed and implemented. As a result, “30 young girls and boys plus 300 women and men from the indigenous community” (YUNIBF 2022) have been identified, trained and called upon to carry out actions which included the promotion and protection of the environment; the planting of plants, the use of improved hearths in order to preserve trees, avoidance of slash and burn and moreover, the practice of smart agriculture to deal with the threat about food crisis or children education. In this regard, Kourbe Mahama, an indigenous girl from a family of farmers said: “with no income from the farming activities, my educational future is uncertain. When out of school, young girls like me are forced into early marriages. Knowledge on smart agriculture can help us adapt to climate change”.

“With no income from the farming activities, my education future is uncertain. When out of school, young girls like me are forced to early marriages. Knowledge on smart agriculture can help us adapt to climate change”.

The population has also been empowered in working with local institutions towards participating in decision-making processes with regards to climate change related issues. Zaké Boukar, the acting Mayor of Mora welcomed the collaboration with indigenous representatives and asked for more actions to tackle the climate crisis in his region. 

In addition to those actions, we have been able to provide financial support to the community’s farmers to leverage the loss of seeds damaged by the lack of rain. Aboubakar Abou, the indigenous community’s representative stated that: “Given the current situation, we can no longer expect anything from what we sowed 45 days ago without water. We are compelled to provide other seeds for a possible return of rain. The thing is that we can do it for all in the community”.  This statement illustrates how important compensation for Loss and Damage is critical for vulnerable communities facing climate crisis.

 In three days of activities, we attempted and implemented solutions that safeguard hopes that humans can sustainably live and develop in that becoming hostile area. Yet, more needs to be done.

“Once upon a time, I could find wood just Behind my house to cook with. Today, I have to go far away, running the risk of encroaching On someone’s property. I understand that we need to plant more trees, but how can we avoid cutting them down when we are 100% dependent on wood to cook

Though our actions have significantly impacted the target community, they still remain very limited to reach satisfaction. Consequently, national governments and the international community must fully commit to take appropriate and urgent actions by providing direct solutions to victims or supporting NGOs such as  Loss and Damage Youth Coalition” (LDYC) which has made loss and damage a top priority so far. This is a right and should not be seen as a favor, considering some related conventions and other relevant legal instruments in this domain, calling on the developed countries (being the biggest polluters), to financially support developing countries to compensate for the loss and damage.

 However, action must be taken now. COP27, fundamentally, is an appropriate platform to advance the cause of loss and damage. Hopefully the missing voices will be heard.

     ″We belong to the family of humanity, we have the right to life and the right to a livable, secure and sustainable environment. We have been living in our land for centuries, we do not want to become climate refugees by tomorrow. Help us stay home! ″ (Indigenous Moura message to cop27 presidency) 


  1. Yunibf (2022) empowering indigenous people to sustainably tackling climate crisis in Mora
  2. Global Youth Mobilization (2022) empowering neglected stakeholders to sustainably tackling climate crisis in Mora
  3. YUNIBF(2022)

The tears of the village river and its population

This is the story of a young man who was forced to leave his village of residence to live in the city: this is my story, I am Paul Lodry.

I was born in Yaounde but I spent part of my life in a village called Mfueng before having to return to the city of Yaounde. 

My martenelle village is in Baleveng, a district located in the west of Cameroon. This beautiful village is mostly home to farmers like my family who cultivated corn, peanuts and beans. 

Having no water supply network, we relied on rainwater and rivers for water to irrigate our fields and supply us with drinking water. 

We were a family of eight people. We lived well and practised agriculture. Our crops were sold on market days which allowed us to provide for our needs. 

Unfortunately, in 2019 the river that supplied us with water for drinking and our crops began to dry out gradually. The name of this river was "ndou dem", which means the river of GOD. It was called this because we believe that it was a gift from GOD. 

We then saw our source of water start to dry up,  and within two years it was completely gone.  The drought that made our river run dry was happening because our rains were becoming increasingly scarce due to climate change.

Faced with this threat to our family, my parents decided to send me back to the city of Yaoundé to escape the crisis. I was not alone, there were several young people in the village, who like me, escaped the drought in order to seek a future in the city. 

Unfortunately, we had no choice but to migrate to the city to escape from famine and poverty. The way of life and the culture in the city were so different from that of my village.  I was forced to accept that I was abandoning my agricultural knowledge, a symbol of our cultural identity associated with other customers such as the practice of "ntio" and "congress" which are gatherings during which we would receive advice from our parents and ancestors of the village through their stories. 

Besides, the more time passes, the more Yemba, which is my local language, is substituted by French and English, which are the languages spoken in the city. I can see my cultural roots disappear like we saw the ndou dem river disappear.

This situation that I lived in is one that many other families like mine around the world are facing. 

Therefore, we call on developed countries to provide new and additional funding to support developing countries and communities like mine to address loss and damage from climate change

Written by Paul Lodry DONGMO


By Hyacinthe Niyitegeka

Photo credit: Stella James

In late January, I texted a friend in Malawi to see how she was doing. She replied that it was raining heavily at the time and that her phone battery was about to die due to a power outage caused by the rain. Flooding from such heavy rain destroyed communities’ crops and houses, roads, and, most tragically, resulted in people losing their lives, whilst leaving many others homeless and fearful. When I asked if it had ever happened to them before, she said, “I have never seen such severe flooding before – the situation is worsening as time passes.”

The losses and damages caused by climate change are nothing new to many people who listen to the radio, watch the news on TV, and read various articles about climate change – it’s also all over social media. People in both rich and poor countries experience loss and damage in their daily lives. Every day, both developed and vulnerable developing countries suffer from extreme weather events like floods, hurricanes, heatwaves, and droughts, as well as slow-onset events like sea-level rise, rising temperatures, ocean acidification, salinization, biodiversity loss, and desertification. However, despite having contributed the least to climate change, the least developed countries are bearing the brunt of its consequences.

Loss and damage is the term used to describe the economic and non-economic climate change impacts that happen beyond adaptation, mitigation and other measures including disaster risk management. 

Rainy seasons used to be eagerly anticipated by those who rely on rainfed agriculture; it was so nice to see the green landscape flourish due to the rain – but now, it’s like a nightmare to see the rain begin to fall. Knowing that you could wake up to find that your house is no longer there, that the crops in your field have all been destroyed, and that the roads and other infrastructures in your community that appeared to be unmovable have all been destroyed. This is terrifying.

Climate change is already negatively affecting vulnerable countries in a variety of ways, including threatening food insecurity; which results in many people going hungry or undernourished. The communities on the frontlines of climate change are very concerned about how their future will look; wondering how this will end, as the situation only worsens. And when it comes to young people their future looks increasingly uncertain due to daily climate changes. 

Today’s youth will be the ones who suffer the most in the future. Young people are already aware of what the climate crisis looks like and how much its effects are impacting communities. They are speaking up because they want climate justice and they want to be heard. Are the World’s leaders going to listen to the needs of these young people who are advocating for climate-vulnerable communities? If youth are heard, empowered, and included in decision-making processes at the local, national, and international levels, they will play a critical role in addressing climate change, and they will become great climate leaders.

I paid a lot of attention to what was being discussed on the topic of Loss and Damage at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Glasgow, Scotland in November 2021, and was in Glasgow myself to attend. The most pressing need of the vulnerable communities was to see Loss and Damage prioritized, as well as the funding to address it, added and delivered. Despite a strong position and a well-articulated demand for a finance facility to address loss and damage based on the needs of vulnerable countries, COP 26 fell short of delivering finance for Loss and Damage. Developed countries claimed that this demand was new, despite the fact that developing countries have been communicating this need since the early 1990s.

Addressing loss and damage caused by climate change and delivering Loss and Damage finance should be a priority because it is the only way for communities in the vulnerable least developed countries to experience climate justice. Failure to do so will result in them continuing to experience the disproportional effects of such changes. I, along with several other young people working on climate change, expect  COP 27 to deliver on finance for Loss and Damage and in establishing a facility to channel finance to where it is needed most to help communities on the frontlines of climate change address loss and damage. 

Hyacinthe Niyitegeka is a water scientist and climate leader. Her work focuses on advocating for vulnerable communities on the frontlines of climate change. She is the operations coordinator for the Loss and Damage Collaboration (L&DC) where she manages the day to day operations. She also co-founded the Loss and Damage Youth Coalition (LDYC) and co-coordinated their advocacy working group. She is also a part of and coordinates the New Generation of young negotiators from vulnerable developing countries.

This story was originally published on 18 February 2022 at Loss and Damage Collaboration.

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