Youth, women and CECI volunteers mobilize for the climate: the case of Lake Thanma in Senegal


The impact of climate change is felt most by social groups and communities in vulnerable situations, especially women and youth. Adaptation solutions must be based, among other things, on the needs of these communities. The active participation of these groups in natural resource management, climate action and policy dialogue is essential.

The example of a CECI initiative in Senegal illustrates how volunteerism can facilitate the integration of gender, climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability into projects from a sustainable development perspective.

In Senegal, the involvement of young people, particularly young women, in climate action remains low, even though they are the main ones concerned.  They are disproportionately affected by climate change. The Camp Citoyen et Paysan pour l'action climatique et la gestion communautaire des Ressources Naturelles (CAP-GCRN) initiative was developed by the Youth College of the Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux (CNCR), a PCV-CECI partner in Senegal.

The initiative was born out of the realization that the natural resources used by communities to meet their basic needs are becoming increasingly scarce due to overexploitation, mismanagement, and the impacts of climate change. One example is the degradation of Lake Tanma in Senegal, once a hydrographic heritage that has long been a navigable, fish-filled, tourist area. The mismanagement of natural resources coupled with the impacts of climate change have led to a drying up of the lake. This has weakened the economic power of the riparian populations. The young people of the CNCR chose this symbolic place to organize a five (5) day camp. The message addressed to the decision-makers was clear: it is necessary to act immediately for a better preservation of the environment and management of natural resources. Youth and women must be part of the conversation.

Within the framework of the Voluntary Cooperation Program and with the support of four volunteers for the economic empowerment of women and young women, the CNCR Youth College designed an awareness and mobilization initiative around Lake Tanmaen. Carried out in close collaboration with local communities and authorities, this initiative combined environmental protection, women's economic empowerment, climate resilience, political dialogue and capacity building of local populations, especially women in the region. The involvement of volunteers specialized in specific themes (gender, project management, environment and communication) has ensured the integration of the different cross-cutting components in order to increase the relevance, visibility and sustainability of the action.

A total of 200 young people from Senegalese civil society and other West African partner organizations of the CNCR, including more than 50% women and young women, took part in the activities. 14 local, national and sub-regional authorities also took part in the camp with a view to strengthening political dialogue and the sustainability of actions arising from the camp.

"One of the things that seemed most important in our participation was the respect of the processes already in place, the dynamics between the organization, the populations and their partners and recognizing our role as a companion", explained the volunteer in financial and administrative management. This is what marked the contribution of CECI volunteers, who are generally equipped to focus on the local knowledge of communities, the first to be affected by the degradation of their environment,

The communication volunteer reports: "We produced materials with key messages on the promotion of women's rights, healthy agriculture, protection of natural resources and encouragement of access to land for rural women. Through our collaborative action, we have contributed to the revitalization of communities along the shores of Lake Tanma, with the development of income-generating activities for women.

The Volunteer Cooperation Program (PCV-CECI) is funded by Global Affairs Canada

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