MEET THE YOUNG AFRICAN ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS THAT ARE CREATING POSITIVE CHANGE
July 2, 2021
According to the UN SDG13 (social developmental goals), The climate is changing, with severe consequences for our daily lives and the resilience of our countries. It is disrupting national economies. People are experiencing changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activities driving this change continue to advance. They are now at their highest levels in history.
Globally, average temperatures in 2017 were 0.90 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1951 to 1980 mean, according to NASA. 2016 was the third consecutive year in which temperatures were more than 1 degree Celsius above late nineteenth-century levels.
Knowing that the communities least responsible for causing climate change are often the most vulnerable to its impacts, USAID is working to elevate diverse local voices — including those of youth advocates for climate action — to ensure our work empowers often overlooked communities to be agents of change.
The challenges to urban spaces are overcome by improving resource use and focusing on reducing pollution and poverty. The future we want includes cities that offer opportunities for all and provide access to basic services, energy, housing, transportation and more. Cities can either dissipate energy or optimise efficiency by reducing energy consumption and adopting green energy systems. For instance, Rizhao, China has become a solar-powered city; in its central districts, 99% of households use solar water heaters.
YOUTH INCLUSIVE PLANS THAT IMPACT CLIMATE CHANGE
United Nations estimates, the population of young people in the world stands at roughly 1.21 billion. While the definition of “youth” varies from country to country, the United Nations defines it as people between the ages of 15 and 24. Unfortunately, much of the world’s youth find themselves at the receiving end of the detrimental consequences of climate change, including declining food security, increased water scarcity and natural disasters that are occurring with growing frequency.
Also, programs like the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), is positioned to be at the forefront of climate mitigation, response, and advocacy efforts.
Here are a few young Africans making positive strides around climate change:
Planet Projector Organization Sierra Leone Branch, and Sierra Leone Student Energy and Conservation Organization (SLECO)
Jeremiah has been working on projects that aim to provide access to clean and affordable energy in Sierra Leone. He aims at using different energy sources as an alternative power option that will be clean and affordable to meet the earning power of people in rural areas, as only 1.2% currently do have access to energy.
She is a changemaker and is passionate about healthy agriculture. NOUDJILEMBAYE works in the agricultural sector, with three years of experience through her company “N-Bio solution.
The project specializes in the production, processing and marketing of 100% organic agricultural products. Through the use of natural pesticides that it manufactures based on local plants and organic fertilizers. They are less toxic to human health and the environment. They are biodegradable, highly selective for non-target fauna and accessible to all.
She started an NGO, The Green Fighter, in 2017 to create a networking platform for youth engaged in the fight for a better environment and help them organize community projects, such as school debates and planting trees.
Ineza advocates for strengthening the African education system so that people are knowledgeable about climate and the environment from an early age.
She was named a 2020 National Geographic Young Explorer for her efforts.
“The clock to protect our communities against climate change is fast, and for vulnerable countries in Africa, the clock is faster! Africa’s population is youthful, and we, the youth, see the opportunity and the need to achieve sustainable development through a green economy that considers the safety of the environment” Ineza Grace, Rwanda.
In Zimbabwe, Donga Nqobizitha works to debunk climate myths and educate local communities about the impacts of mining.
Donga believes that Africa’s biggest challenges with climate change are misinformation or a lack of information, small budgets for environmental protection, and insufficient political will. After completing YALI, Donga felt equipped with the skills necessary to become an agent for social change in his community. As part of his advocacy work, he fights for sustainable mining practices near the Deka River, which feeds directly into the Zambezi, by convening dialogues between local communities and mining companies to ensure that environmental impact assessments take place.
“I have seen first-hand environmental injustices. This urge pushes me to do better for my community” – Donga Nqobizitha, Zimbabwe
AMÉ RÉBECCA GUELLY
In Togo, Amé Rébecca Guelly puts women at the centre of her work while advocating for sustainable development and environmental protection.
Amé Rébecca started the Network of Women (Ambassadors of the Environment and Sustainable Development) to harness the potential of women in addressing climate change. She helped draft the first-ever carbon footprint analysis for her university and proposed measures to offset emissions. She often promotes videos to raise awareness about the proper management of natural resources and provide ways people can help address the climate crisis.
‘As women, we have a lot of potentials which are overlooked. I decided to set up this network to equip women so that together we can harness our capacity and work to impact on a large scale’ – Amé Rébecca Guelly.
In Nigeria, Adejoke Lasisi uses her weaving skills to convert textile and plastic waste into eco-friendly products. Many people in Adejoke’s community dump or burn waste, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
This, coupled with her desire to preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage, prompted Adejoke to begin taking trash from the streets, redefining its purpose, and weaving it into beautiful and sustainable products.
She founded Jokelinks Weaving School and Planet 3R to create economic opportunities for unemployed youth by providing recycling and waste management training. In just one year, Planet 3R collected about 58,000 kilograms of recyclable waste (of which 20,000 kilograms would have been burned), created 16 jobs, trained more than 100 young people, and taught roughly 4,300 students about waste management and recycling.
“I hope that other young people will be able to save the environment with their hands, too.The more wastepreneurs we have, the cleaner our environment becomes” — Adejoke Lasisi
In Ghana, Cletus Baalongbuoro transforms agricultural waste into cooking fuels. When burned or left to decompose, agricultural waste releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
To address this issue, Cletus takes waste from across Ghana and transforms it into cooking fuel. As the founder and CEO of Ponaa Briquettes (formally Clean Coal Power), he makes efficient use of organic waste by recycling it into a smokeless, low-cost alternative charcoal that can be used for cooking, replacing wood burning. This process also decreases deforestation in Ghana.
Through Ponna Briquettes, Cletus has created jobs for countless women, educated Ghanaian youth, and reduced household expenses on cooking fuel.
“My company has ambitious plans to combat climate change. Apart from recycling agricultural waste into smokeless charcoal to replace wood fuel for cooking and heating, we also plan to embark on tree planting” — Cletus Baalongbuoro
Adenike grew up in Nigeria, where she is a country ambassador for Fridays for Future, Earth Uprising and African Youth Climate Hub.
Her journey into the environmental movement started when she gained admission to study agricultural economics in university and learned how vulnerable farmers are to climate change. She witnessed bloody fights between Nigerian farmers and herdsmen because their land is becoming a rider. The fights got so intense that her studies were extended for an extra year as a result of the low-security level in the area. Whole communities experienced intense flooding and entire farmlands were swept away for the first time in her place of study.