Tuesday is International
Youth Day; and UNICEF, the UN children's agency, is using the occasion to
highlight the effects of climate change. UNICEF says young people in Somalia
can help curb the effects of global warming to help ensure a better future.
Sulieman is the agency's deputy representative for Somalia. From Nairobi, she
spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about how the
country has been affected by climate change.
think it's been seriously affected. If you go to any part of Somalia, be it in
the north, where it's been more settled and peaceful and less affected by the
conflict, we still see an annual occurrence of drought. And it's an issue
that's been going on for several years. There are certainly ways that can be
improved by looking at strategies such as rainwater harvesting, ground water
management, which are all affected by the climate as well," she says.
Sulieman explains how youth
can help. "We believe that young people, especially in countries like Somalia
that are suffering from civil conflict, can play a major role. They are usually
the ones who are most active in their families. They're the most mobile in the
family. They can take the initiative and start to do environmental programs
within their communities. They can talk to their peers. They can talk to their
families and at the same time they can talk to their teachers and other
colleagues. They have a bigger outreach than the elders, who are taking care of
families…. They the ones who have more flexibility to move around," she says.
UNICEF official adds that young people in Somalia are more in tune with
technology. She says, "They have access to the Internet. They have access to
knowledge and they can use that in a much quicker manner than other segments of
the population. And they're the future. They're really the future of the
country and they have to take that initiative."
there's a great deal of conflict in Somalia, the scene of one of the worst
humanitarian disasters in the world. Sulieman agrees, saying it's especially
bad in central and south Somalia, where most of the population is. But she
says, "In the rest of Somalia, it's relatively peaceful and we have been able
to do some development programs. Now, we feel that even in areas which are
affected by the conflict, and we know this from first hand knowledge, young
people are looking for an outlet. They're looking for ways that their lives can
says that many of the street children in Mogadishu say they want an education
as a means to escape their current circumstances and that they are fearful
about their future. "So I think (with) that extra energy and motivation,
there's always space to bring that out. And that's why young people are such a
resource," she says.
UNICEF is the biggest provider of
education in Somalia at the primary level. But because of insecurity, the UN
agency has had increasing difficulty in reaching all the children in need, and
fewer children have been able to go to school. As a result, UNICEF is looking
into providing more non-formal education programs, such as a few hours of
schooling a day in closer settings to their communities.