A holder of a master’s degree in Climate-Smart Agriculture, Fontoh Desmond Fontoh is the founder of Crusaders for Environment Protection and Ozone Watch (CEPOW), an organization involved in development projects in the areas of environmental conservation, environmental education, and women and youth development.
Coming from a society where the subject of environmental protection has often been trivialized, Mr. Fontoh is one young person who has taken it upon himself to protect mother nature and ensure its conservation. Over the past five years, Mr. Fontoh through his organization has been involved in several projects that have resulted in the empowerment of several youths within his community, one of these projects centered on recycling unwanted plastic waste.
In a bit to fight plastic pollution, Mr. Fontoh devised means to sort and transform plastic waste into durable and environmentally friendly plastic lumber which can be used as roofing tiles/pavements. Through this project, Mr. Fontoh and his team have been able to pick up and recycle about 25000kg of plastic waste.
Asides from working to recycle plastic, Mr. Fontoh has also been actively involved in reforestation via Plantation Tree Forest, a project that has resulted in over 5000trees planted and about 150 young people trained on forest conservation, animal welfare, tree planting, and biomonitoring.
Coming from a society where picking of used plastics on the streets has often been attributed to persons with mental disorders, Mr. Fontoh tells us one of the biggest challenges he has faced so far is “dejection” given that a lot of people do not see the need to protect mother nature. He also added that so far it has been difficult financing these projects due to lack of adequate funding.
Thus, in a bit to ensure the sustainability of his organization, plastic collected and transformed is being sold and profit realized is used to train more youths in the area of plastic transformation which intend gives these young people a source of livelihood. Also, in order to raise funds, his organization engages in other fund-raising activities such as bee farming, an activity that has been greatly affected by the anglophone crisis given that some of their beehives were burned down.
To Desmond Fontoh, everyone can actively play a role in protecting the environment and ensuring a future world free of plastic pollution. He recommends that in other for this to be successful, everyone must first have a change of mindset and adopt the 5Rs of Zero waste;
Refuse what you don’t need
Reduce what you do need
Reuse by using reusables instead of disposables
Recycle what you can’t refuse, reduce, or reuse Rot the rest
Over the years, Mr. Fontoh through his activities has been able to gain both national and international recognition. In 2018, he was selected amongst the 50 most influential Cameroonians. He was also selected amongst the top 2100 finalists for one of Africa’s biggest entrepreneurship programs- The Tony Elumelu TEF Connect UNDP Program. Mr. Fontoh has also received recognition from Seed of Change Canada and Pollination USA.
He has also been active in the fight against coronavirus as he is currently engaged with a Rapid Response to COVID-19, a project that aims at producing and distributing over 500 bottles of locally made hand sanitizers, 100 handwashing buckets, 500 face masks, and 200 ventilators.