Norwich student joins UN climate delegation
2009: The government of Burkina Faso has selected a Christian student at the University of East Anglia for its delegation to the United Nations climate conference at Copenhagen.
Melissa llboudo, a final-year undergraduate in International Development, will join the President and Prime Minister of her country in the negotiations.
Burkina Faso in West Africa is currently the sixth poorest country in the world, and has suffered severe flooding and drought this year.
Last autumn Melissa met local Christian Aid co-ordinator Eldred Willey and shared a vision for her country. In January he invited her to give a talk to the young people at Earlham Christian Centre, a Pentecostal church in Norwich. During the evening she read a passage from Isaiah 41 which spoke to her:
“The poor and needy thirst for water, and there is none…
But I, the Lord will answer them.”
On 12 February she called together her Christian friends at the university for a day of prayer and fasting and read the passage to them. That very afternoon Kat Birch at Christian Aid headquarters in London identified an opportunity to obtain European Union matched funding for a Burkina Faso appeal.
East Anglia has now raised £48,000, which with matched funding equates to £192,000 for Burkina Faso.
In September Melissa visited two of Christian Aid’s partners which the appeal is supporting: the Evangelical Development Organisation and Reseau Marp. She met Ally Ouedraogo (picture right), a Burkinabé farmer who over 20 years ago developed the technique of building rock belts in the desert to catch rainwater.
While she was in the capital Ougadougou, she met Bobodo Blaise Sawadogo, who represents Burkina Faso at the United Nations convention for climate change. He invited her to join his team of five, which will be negotiating at Copenhagen on adaptation. He chose her partly for her excellent command of English in the technical language of climate change.
Melissa will be at Copenhagen from 6 to 18 December, sharing a complex with the delegation, which includes Blaise Compaore (President), Tertius Zongo (Prime Minister) and Salifou Sawadogo (Minister of the Environment).