Organized by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the caravan kicked off on Friday in Burundi and will pass through 10 countries: Burundi, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana and South Africa.
Scheduled to reach Durban, the summit venue, on 27th November - a day before the summit begins - the Caravan of Hope is gathering communities from diverse backgrounds in Eastern and Southern Africa to demand climate justice before the COP 17.
According to Titilope Akosa, a climate change advocate and executive director of Lagos (Nigeria) based NGO ‘Centre for 21st Century Issues’, the goal of the caravan is to amplify the African story about climate change and the difficulties in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Says Akosa, “The Caravan of Hope aims to highlight the challenges that climate change poses to Africa’s efforts to extricate herself from poverty and attainment of MDGs.”
To ensure the caravan has a smooth run, an inter-state taskforce with representatives from each participating country has been established working with a broad group of civil society groups and campaigners from across Africa.
As expected, the caravan of hope has caught the fancy of the entire African media which is gearing up to cover the event live. Sibongile Zgambo is a young radio journalist with Zodiac Broadcasting Station in Malawi who is planning to travel with the caravan. She will be accompanied by a group of journalists from Malawi, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania by road. Says an excited Sibongile, “We are travelling alongside the Caravan. From Malawi we will go to Zambia and then Botswana, before reaching Durban on 27th December. I’m looking forward to the trip because this will give me a great opportunity to visit Zambia and Botswana and learn of local climate issues.”
Beside the main Caravan of Hope, La Via Campesina - a global farmers’ rights organization, is also organizing a stream of caravan, which will origin in Mozambique and pass through Swaziland before entering South Africa. The two caravans will join each other in Pretoria.
Here are the main Objectives of the Caravan of Hope
• To mobilize and rally together African civil society articulate advocacy demands to Africa leaders to push the people’s agenda on climate change and climate justice within the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) – Conference of Parties (COP)17 that is taking place in Africa.
• To create awareness and build momentum towards UNFCCC- COP17 among African people and the rest of the world – to educate about the impact of climate change and to highlight and people’s testimonies and stories about how climate change is affecting Africans now.
• To lobby and pressurize African leaders/policy makers to work together in support of an international climate change treaty that is responsive to the continent’s realities and reality to science.
• To drum up support for pro-people and just responses to climate change.
• To promote the African People’s Petition and the demands to Heads of State and other policy-makers as evidence of the urgent action that their people require them to take at domestic level and within the African and global processes.