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On World Humanitarian Day, Salesians Highlight Climate Change Interventions in Nigeria, TZ

Official Logo for the World Humanitarian Day. Credit: Courtesy Photo

On the occasion of this year’s World Humanitarian Day marked Thursday, August 19, members of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) have highlighted their climate change interventions around the world, including two countries in Africa.

In a report by the U.S.-based development of SDB, Salesian Missions, initiatives in the West African nation of Nigerian and the East African country of Tanzania are highlighted.

In Nigeria, SDB members operate the St. Joseph’s Farm in Sagamu, officials of Salesian Missions say, and add, “The farm is a center for training, research and production.”

“With a population close to 256,000, including a mix of Christians, Muslims and traditionalists, Sagamu is known for its agricultural products such as cocoa and kola nuts,” Salesian Missions officials say in the Thursday, August 19 report.

While the region’s “rich vegetation and large masses of unoccupied or unused land continue to attract people to develop an interest in agriculture,” they say, “the region has high rates of unemployment and underemployment, as well as a low rate of formal education.”

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“The St. Joseph’s Farm initiative is located on 25 hectares acquired by the Salesians. It is a center of excellence for crop production, animal farming, research and training, especially for youth and smallholder farmers,” SDB members in Nigeria say.

They add, “Each training session has 100 participants involved in farming activities and indirectly benefits more than 5,000 people.”

The St. Joseph’s Farm initiative “provides training for youth and the poor, especially widows and girls, enabling them to generate an income and reduce food insecurity,” SDB members in Nigeria say.

“The farm also improves methods of crop production and teaches climate resilient techniques and practices, which help to increase smallholder farmers’ productivity and revenue in a sustainable way,” they say, highlighting SDB initiatives in Nigeria on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day.

This year, World Humanitarian Day highlights the human cost of the climate crisis by pressuring world leaders to take meaningful climate action to safeguard the world’s most vulnerable people.

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According to the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), “The climate emergency is wreaking havoc across the world at a scale that the humanitarian community and people at the front lines cannot manage.”

The UN OCHA leadership notes, “Time is already running out for millions of the world’s most vulnerable people—those who have contributed least to the global climate emergency but are hit the hardest. Millions of people are already losing their homes, their livelihoods and their lives.”

“Salesian missionaries have an ongoing focus on the environment in their organizations around the globe,” officials of Salesian Missions say in their August 19 report, and explain, “The Don Bosco Green Alliance, an international collective of youth from Salesian institutions and organizations that contribute to global environmental action, thought and policy, was launched in April 2018 in India. In the span of just two years, the Don Bosco Green Alliance gained 273 registered members from 56 countries.”

In the report, the Director of Salesian Missions, Fr. Gus Baek says, “The Don Bosco Green Alliance is helping Salesian organizations in more than 130 countries have a focus on the environment.”

“Don Bosco Green Alliance members work to create an environment that is safe and caring for all life on the planet while building up a new generation of environmentally committed citizens and leaders,” Fr. Gus says in reference to the interventions by members of SDB in the fight against climate change in dozens of countries across the globe.

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In Tanzania, the leadership of Salesian Missions has facilitated training in renewable energy for hundreds of young people.

“A total of 511 students looking to make a career in renewable energy received training in solar installation, operation and maintenance thanks to grant funding Salesian Missions received from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation,” officials of Salesian Missions say in the August 19 report.

The training initiative took place from April 2019 to July 2020 at the Don Bosco training centers in Dodoma and Iringa, Tanzania.

“This training initiative, along with another at Don Bosco Oysterbay in Dar es Salaam, funded through a partnership with Misereor, the German Catholic Bishops’ Organization for Development Cooperation, helped lead to the establishment of training laboratories and the remodeling of solar and electronic classrooms and workshops at the centers, as well as the installation of training equipment and furniture and the development of instructors,” they add.

SDB members in Tanzania have reported that “all 511 trainees also benefited from job placement and career guidance and were placed for a field internship to gain practical training for at least two months.”

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“Internship placement was useful as many solar energy projects are located in the interior of the country, and students were able to gain experience in understanding the practical application of their classroom studies,” Salesian missionaries in Tanzania say.

A total of 308 graduates are now qualified solar technicians with the capacity to install, operate and maintain solar-powered grids, they indicate in the August 19 report obtained by ACI Africa.

Established by the UN in 2009 to coincide with the 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq that killed at least 22 people, including the chief humanitarian in the country, World Humanitarian Day recognizes humanitarian workers killed and injured in the course of their work.