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About this Event

Wetlands are important for the Socio-economic development of a country. They act as a reservoir for most ecosystems and are able to capture energy and provide food for many animals. They are naturally beautiful places that provide opportunities for recreational activities such as boating, swimming, bush walking and bird watching. Wetlands provide a natural water balance in the landscape and act as a barrier against floods. It is for these reasons that EDUCATE A CHILD IN AFRICA (ECA) partnered with the Divisional Delegation of the Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development (MINEPDED) to commemorate World Wetlands Day 2014. ECA and MINEPDED decided to bring on board primary School children in the celebration because of the fact that young people are hardly involved in Agricultural activities at the basic level of education in most parts of Africa and that the concept of Wetlands is still a strange phenomenon to so many young people all across the continent. The young people that answered present therefore had the opportunity to learn about Wetlands and how they can exist alongside Agriculture for socio-economic development. Commemorative activities took place in two Wetland sites in Limbe and were placed under the theme “Wetlands and Agriculture, Partners for Growth”.

How it Unfolded

Prior to the event, ECA and MINEPDED sent official letters to five primary schools that had been selected to take part in this year’s commemoration. Considering the fact that all the primary institutions in Limbe could not be invited to take part in the event, the teachers were informed to send representatives that will be ambassadors at the level of their schools and communities. Building from this idea, the teachers decided to send outstanding pupils to represent their institutions. Eight pupils were selected from each of the five schools that had been earmarked for the event making a total of forty young people plus five teachers assigned to represent each of the institutions. The team was also made up of ECA and MINDEPDED staff including the Divisional Delegate of the Environment, Protection of Nature and Sustainable Development. The schools that took part in this year’s event were New Horizon International School, JONAM Bilingual School, Ecoles Des Champions, ALCEF and Government School Bota Group II.

Recognizing the fact that World Wetlands Day is commemorated on the 2nd of February every year, ECA and MINEPDED programmed the activity on the 4th of February 2014 (February 2nd being a Sunday). The almost sixty person delegation made up of children, teachers, ECA staff and other dignitaries had a first stop at a Wetland site at the center of Limbe that had been reclaimed for building construction. The young people made their way to the core of the site, had a clear view of the green vegetation, walked around the affected area and received lectures from Neba Gladys of MINDEPDED. The choice of this site was for the young people to understand the effects of human activities on plants and animals that live in Wetland areas.

At the second Wetland site, located in Mile Four in the outskirts of Limbe, the students had the opportunity to see the type of plants that thrive in wetlands. Even though they did not see animals, they received lectures on the types of animals that live in Wetlands. They were schooled on the types of Wetlands, the importance Wetlands, the role of Wetlands in sustaining agricultural activities especially during the dry season and most importantly the role of the RAMSAR Convention in fostering the conservation of Wetlands all over the World.

At the end of the lectures, ECA handed out textbooks to the forty young people. The teachers also received books for their different institutions. The books that were entirely based on conservation practices would help the children to learn more about their environment and how it can be protected. ECA’s Gideon Asaah called on them to take the message back to their communities. He also appreciated the efforts of the Head Teachers in sending representatives and the patience of the young people to withstand the high Limbe temperatures during the talk sessions.

The three-hour event ended with a closing remark from the Divisional Delegate of MINDEPDED, Adele Zaboya Dama, who reiterated the fact that the young people should engage themselves in educating their peers in their schools and also at the level of their communities. The Delegate also appreciated the efforts of ECA in bringing education to children; she painted the Synergy between ECA and MINEPDED as a perfect one acknowledging and appreciating the partnership. The young people were treated to a light refreshment and were all transported back to their different schools.

Lessons Learned

Most of the young people present had no idea of the significance of Wetlands. They all seemed fascinated by the idea that more than three quarters of the rice that is consumed around the World is grown in Wetlands. Since young people love eating rice, knowing that rice is grown in Wetlands was just catalyst for them to take the message out to their peers.

The young people were surprised to be educated in an environment that is different from their traditional classrooms. This aspect testifies the importance of outdoor activities in educating young people. Receiving books in a strange environment was a good incentive for them to work harder at school and share the knowledge they had learned.

An assessment program will be carried out by Educate a Child in Africa in the months ahead to ensure that the young participants shared the knowledge acquired during the workshop with their peers in school and also members of their families and local communities.