How One Young Cameroonian Founded an Organization to Combat Climate Change and Preserve the Environment in Their Country

Ismael Essome Ebone is a young man from Kribi, Cameroon, where fishing is considered one of the livelihoods of Cameroonians. Their father was a fisherman, and they know the importance of having clean waters.

As Cameroon is becoming more urbanized and developed, Ismael observed that Cameroonians and tourists are practicing overconsumption and pollution of urban areas, contributing to the plastic pollution in the country. With plastic debris tainting the marine coastal areas and oceans, natural habitats and biodiversity are being threatened, and fisherman find that there are more plastic in the ocean than fish. Furthermore, as fishing is a main livelihood for many in Kribi and all of the villages in the Littoral Region, they found that fishermen are either practicing cutting down trees to create canoes for fishing, directly hampering any reforestation efforts in the country, or can not afford a boat and must fish by hand or by swimming.

Ismael saw the threats to the environment from pollution and the cutting down of trees to make canoes and came up with a creative solution. They founded Madiba & Nature, an organization which takes plastic bottle waste and upcycles them to create boats constructed out of plastic bottles.

Their mission:

“Promotion of a circular economy in order to boost nature conservation and build a more green and clean world.”

Since founding the organization in 2017:

  • they have implemented a plastic waste management system and have created 33 eco-boats, made using 1,000 bottles each
  • they launched an environmental education program which includes a module for coaching students and engineers who wish to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in green businesses; there are currently seven members who are working on a start-up project that recycles plastic waste
  • there is an ecotourism component to show visitors to Cameroon the value of ecoboats in artisanal fishing and revitalize the economy of the Londji fishing village through hiring locals to act as tour operators and guides so they can make additional income for their families

In October, I listened to Ismael deliver their speech at the One Young World 2018 Summit in The Hague, and their story is even more incredible hearing it live. I so appreciate other champions for the environment who are creative and devising solutions to their country’s manmade issues. Now that we are officially in the new year, they aim to build and provide a minimum of 1,000 ecoboats to the fishermen in Kribi and Lake Ossa. Additionally, they plan to fundraise to ensure that Madiba & Nature continues to thrive in 2019 and beyond.

Follow Ismael and Madiba & Nature here.