Hope Found in The Climate Cafe: Addressing Eco-Anxiety in Africa – Positive News

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In Wawa, a 29-year-old banker named Akindipe Akinjisola lives on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling economic centre, to avoid the soaring rents in the city centre. During the rainy season, he is forced to move back to the city for refuge due to the lack of proper drainage in Wawa. Flooding prompts wide-scale evacuation in the neighbourhood every year during heavy rainfalls between March and October. In recent years, the rainy season has gotten heavier, with 2022 recording some of the worst flooding in the country’s history, displacing over a million Nigerians and resulting in 800 deaths. Akinjisola expressed his fears about the rainy season and the impact it has on the community.

In January, Akinjisola attended the launch of Nigeria’s first climate cafe, a new initiative by NGO Sustyvibes, founded by 31-year-old Jennifer Uchendu. The climate cafe is a space where people can discuss their feelings about climate change and eco-anxiety. The lack of discussion around these topics in Nigeria prompted Uchendu to create the cafe to address the intersection of climate and mental health in Africa.

The climate crisis in Nigeria is often viewed through a class prism, with eco-anxiety considered a luxury for the middle and upper classes. Poorer citizens are more concerned about rising inflation and food prices. However, Uchendu and her team are determined to raise awareness about the impact of climate change on all individuals, regardless of their socioeconomic status.

The lack of local language words for climate change in Nigeria contributes to the perception that it is an elite discussion. Uchendu, a prominent voice on the climate crisis in Nigeria, aims to create a community of young people who can work together to design sustainable solutions for themselves and the planet. The ongoing research at Sustyvibes explores the link between the climate crisis and mental health in African cities, shedding light on the impact of climate change on young Africans’ lives.

Sustyvibes’ initiatives, from climate outreach in schools to mental health training for professionals, aim to engage a wide range of individuals in the conversation about climate change and eco-anxiety. By inspiring young people to take action and make positive changes in their communities, Uchendu hopes to create a network of individuals dedicated to sustainability in Africa.

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