By Peter Adeniyi
The DAAD Alumni Event funded by the German Government’s Academic Exchange Service has called for a paradigm shift in interacting with nature for Nigerians to overcome challenges of the climate change and COVID-19 pandemic.
Many notable Nigerians that spoke at this year edition of the Alumni Event held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in Osun State, acknowledged the importance of the existing link between human health and the threats posed by climate change and the degradation of natural ecosystems.
The speakers at the Alumni Event, include the Converner of the 4-day workshop, Prof. Clement Adebooye of the Osun State University, Osogbo; the Vice Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Eyitope Ogunbodede; the Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University, Osogbo, Prof. Olabode Popoola; among others.
We need a paradigm shift in the way we interact with nature that recognizes the important existing link between our health and the threats posed by climate change and the degradation of natural ecosystems.
A communique issued at the conclusion of the workshop, stated: “This global challenge has convincingly demonstrated that the global pandemic, climate change and ecosystem services must be considered as a strategic and integrated developmental means to achieve optimal public health and food systems.
“The threat of COVID-19 is temporary, however, the threat of droughts, floods, fires and extreme storms linked to climate change will remain for years in our globe. Hence, we need to continue to evolve solutions to our environmental problems.
“The achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) by 2030 would be impossible if adequate steps are not taken to deal with factor in the effects of climate change issues and the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic.
“Many of the root causes of climate change also increase the risk of pandemics. Thus COVID-19 will not be the last pandemic in human history and therefore there is need to institutionalize adequate mitigating strategies in our policies.”
The Alumni Event, therefore, concluded that future pandemic can target food crops and livestock which may pose further threat to food systems and livelihood resilience.
Earlier, the convener of the workshop, Prof. Adebooye said the event was targeted at academic discourse on researches on COVID-19 pandemic and climate change in order to achieve food security, poverty reduction and quality human health.
Adebooye expressed gratitude to the German Government for providing funds and support to host “this very important conference.”
Also, the Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile- Ife, Prof. Ogunbodede, who declared open the workshop, asserted that COVID-19 pandemic and climate change are real development problems that define the health and food systems in developing countries.
He attributed developing nations’ inability to achieve food security and other developmental goals to failure to address the problem of climate change, COVID-19 and politics.
Ogunbodede commended the German Government and the convener for the initiative, expressing the hope that the conference would properly address the country’s problems of climate change and food insecurity.
In a keynote paper, the Vice Chancellor of the Osun State University Osogbo, Prof. Popoola, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently address “those factors causing climate change such as emission of greenhouse gasses, deforestation, soil degradation, population explosion and the COVID-19 pandemic to enable the country overcome the problems of food insecurity and poverty.”
No fewer than twenty five papers were presented by academics from across Nigerian universities and abroad at the DAAD Alumni Event held at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife from March 28-31, 2021.
Providing backgrounds for the Alumni Event titled “Sustainable Health and Food Systems in Relation to Climate Change and COVID-19 Pandemic,” participants focused on the twin challenges of climate change and COVID-19.
The Alumni Event, after conclusive discussion, resolved that climate change and COVID-19 pandemic are development issues that have produced significant negative impacts on agriculture, food security, human health and social life.
The Alumni Event agreed that the two global challenges have created “new normal” in all facets of human endeavour.
The participants further agreed that “it is known that in all instances of negative impacts of climate change and COVID-19 pandemic, rural and urban poor households suffer most significantly because of poor access to basic health facilities, poor access to affordable/simple technologies to improve productivity and lack of basic technical know-how on how to mitigate the adverse effects of the challenges.
“The public health measures taken to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic also caused huge disruptions, trauma and stress to the health and food systems, especially for resource-poor households in developing countries. Such COVID-19 public health measures include physical distancing, society lockdown, vehicular movement restrictions, airport shutdown, closure of markets, borders (land, ports), and closure of farms and agri-food industries.”
The Alumni Event also discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change/climate action in relation to food security, poverty reduction and human health with special emphasis on education, gender sensitivity and rural economy.
The Alumni Event noted that several families in Nigeria manifested relatively high rates of symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress, during the period of public health measures to control and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It also noted that several families had suffered stresses of various forms as a result of the adverse effects of climate change, concluding that the COVID-19 pandemic, which “has caused thousands of deaths, paralyzed the global economy and transformed our way of life to NEW NORMAL, through the public health mesaure, has been a global wakeup call.