Africa Women of Faith in Energy, demand immediate halt to new fossil fuel projects


By Deborah Asantewaah SARFO

The Africa Women of Faith in Energy, has called on African leaders to urgently halt new fossil fuel projects due to their adverse impacts on the climate, biodiversity and human lives – particularly affecting women and children.

They argued that the exploitation of fossil fuels like oil and gas, frequently touted as solution to the continent’s developmental problems, has not produce positive outcomes or results because the European and other foreign extractive firms continue to exploit the region.

Hence the movement have also called on mining companies to “clean up their mess, pay up and leave the communities, because women have suffered enough from their actions”.

Additionally, they assert that over 85 percent of fossil fuels produced by Africa-based projects are exported – thereby failing to increase the continent’s energy access rates.

The movement’s concerns and demands were highlighted at the “Africa Women of Faith in Energy conference”, an initiative of GreenFaith Africa together with Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND).

The two-day conference brought together women with diverse faith backgrounds from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda who converged in Accra to elucidate the impacts of oil drilling on women and girls.

The Global Director of Campaigns  at GreenFaith Africa, Meryne Warah, also indicated that the programme presents women the opportunity to identify their role in driving the renewable agenda at the grassroots level in their respective countries.

She noted that cultural and political factors, among others, have side-lined women in the fossil fuel conversation, despite the industry’s adverse impacts on them.

“Women from these countries have shared their stories about how the extractive sector affects them, and yet they are never consulted. So, culture, politics, traditional roles of women have a part to play. We realise that all these come together very beautifully when the views of everyone is considered,“ she explained.

In view of the numerous negative implications associated with the exploration of fossil fuel such as biodiversity loss, environmental pollution, displacement, loss of livelihood, conflicts, health complications among others, the movement, has therefore called for “action from all governments and institutions accountable to faith communities and women to support the bid for a just energy transition in Africa”.

They further mentioned that these renewable energy transitions must be locally owned, accessible, affordable and women-led initiatives, thereby promoting inclusivity and equity.

At the conference, they expressed their frustrations and concerns about the consequences of the fossil fuel explorations and further demanded for reparations from mining companies to help address the problems their activities have created on the continent.

“We are demanding just reparations which will help the continent address the challenges of the climate crisis as a result of mining, fossil fuels exploration/exploitations, which will enable our land to heal while coping with the consequences of their actions,” they said.

Regarding climate finance, the women urged African leaders to develop and implement innovative climate finance that are accessible and beneficial to the most vulnerable communities and women.

Other demands from the movement to authorities in the five African countries include enacting inclusive energy policies, operationalising loss and damage mitigation and compensation policies, and developing green job opportunities that will be accessible to all – particularly women and marginalized communities.

Despite the heart-troubling stories of women shared at the conference, she remains hopeful for “an enabling environment in African countries where politicians will look at grassroots women as key stakeholders to be consulted for such projects”.

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