Basile Ouédraogo, WaterAid, Burkina Faso
OUR CLIMATE FIGHT
An incredible 19,148 celebrities, cross-party politicians and WaterAid supporters have added their names to Basile’s open letter to join #OurClimateFight, calling on Boris Johnson and Liz Truss to listen to people most affected by our changing climate. We’re asking the UK Government to ensure at least one third of their climate budget is invested directly in local projects that bring clean water. With reliable clean water, communities can build resilience and take charge of their lives. Read Basile’s letter below that we’ll be taking to the UK Government ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26).
19,148 celebrities, cross-party politicians and WaterAid supporters joined #OurClimateFight. On 20 September, WaterAid took Basile’s letter, with the support of actor Amanda Mealing and MPs Fleur Anderson and Lord Bates, to the UK Government to ask that they ensure at least one third of the climate budget is invested directly in local projects that bring clean water.
WaterAid will be at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) to influence decision-makers to make firm commitments and champion the voices of people experiencing the impacts of our changing climate firsthand. With reliable clean water, communities can take charge of their lives.
Read Basile’s open letter
I’m too young to have experienced the great droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, but my grandparents and parents frequently reminded my siblings and I what they’d had to endure, so that we never took food for granted just because we’d always had it.
It wasn’t until I was a student in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou that I had my own first encounter with extreme weather. It was a day I can’t forget. On 1 September 2009, 25% of the annual rainfall for the entire country fell on the city. By the time the rains finally relented, 46 people were dead, 42,000 houses destroyed.
Those rains washed away any doubts we may have had: our climate is changing.
Sometimes droughts, sometimes floods, sometimes unbearable heatwaves and violent winds – vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso live today, and every day, in permanent anxiety, constant fear of what tomorrow will bring. That’s not the kind of living human beings were made for.
Farmers like François Nikiema, who showed me his ruined crops, say things are getting worse every year. Francois told me “The worst time is in April, you have to juggle with the little water you have or simply give up certain needs due to lack of water.”
When I see the wells and rivers people rely on for water drying up, and the effort and energy farming communities put in day after day, only to feel that their destiny is at the mercy of weather and water, it breaks my heart. This is what it means to be a “vulnerable community” - it doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means despite your relentless hard work, you’re unable to take charge of your life.
It’s hard to put into words the deep pain and frustration I feel knowing that there are simple solutions that will help communities like Francois’ to build resilience against changing and extreme weather. Clean water that keeps flowing all year round would help communities thrive and take charge of their lives. I wish people in power could see what I see, hear what I hear. I just want governments to do what they need to do. This is our climate fight.
Supporters who’ve added their voice to Basile’s letter
Actor and activist
Poet and playwright
Author, TV chef and WaterAid ambassador
I’m joining #OurClimateFight because...
People across the UK have shared their many reasons for supporting Basile. Scroll down to see what they’ve said.