News / Africa

Ugandan Children Provide Fresh Perspective on Climate Change

Ugandan schoolchildren end the International Children’s Climate Change Conference by planting seedlings, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)
Ugandan schoolchildren end the International Children’s Climate Change Conference by planting seedlings, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)

Last weekend Uganda hosted the first Children's Climate Change Conference, where hundreds of young delegates shared their ideas on how to tackle a growing global problem.  
 
Eleven-year-old Neolla Taaka is pretty sure that sooner or later, her life is going to be affected by climate change.

“I would think that most people around would not be able to get enough food, the drought would be high, we may be forced to migrate.  But also I would think that the lifestyle of people would change.  Like, if you have been having enough water to drink you would not be able to, you would have to walk long distances," said Taaka.

A young delegate plants a seedling at the end of the International Children’s Climate Change Conference, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)A young delegate plants a seedling at the end of the International Children’s Climate Change Conference, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)
x
A young delegate plants a seedling at the end of the International Children’s Climate Change Conference, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)
A young delegate plants a seedling at the end of the International Children’s Climate Change Conference, Kampala, Uganda, July 12, 2014. (Hilary Heuler / VOA News)

Last Saturday, Taaka and her classmates presented their thoughts on climate change to an audience of their peers.  This was the International Children’s Climate Change Conference in Kampala, Uganda, reportedly the first of its kind.

The conference was organized by Joseph Masembe, who runs a local organization called Little Hands Go Green.  He says he was looking for a way to make the concept of climate change relevant to ordinary Ugandans, an idea he got two years ago while attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha.

“When I sat there it was greenhouse gas emissions, and these people have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, and the Bali conference, and on and on.  But I looked at the average Ugandan and I thought, ‘What can they do?  Let us get the simple aspects of it.  Let me create a climate change conference that is hinged around children,'" said Masembe.

More than 200 children came from schools around Uganda, including international schools; Masembe says 35 nationalities were represented.  Each school gave a presentation on how Ugandans can help tackle the global crisis.

“Some of your vehicles, when you are driving around town, the vehicle it is just producing only dangerous gases and it can not stop producing them.  So, I would advise you to discourage movement by vehicles over short distances.”

Masembe says he was impressed by what they had to say.

“I am actually shocked at where these children got all these ideas, because we do not have environmental conservation education in the national curriculum.  It is not there at all.  Because you see, we are naturally endowed, so we do not realize that we are losing our on our vegetation cover.  We believe it is there.  We are the Pearl of Africa, and people just wake up and live like that," he said.

But he says the effects of climate change are already being felt.

“Weather patterns have started to change a lot.  Farmers in the villages are telling you that the rainy season is not what it used to be.  Now we have torrential rains, we have mudslides.  When it rains in Kampala places get flooded.  This was not the trend before," eh said.

Young delegates like 10-year-old Patricia Gukiina were not impressed with how adults have been handling the environment.

“I think they do not take into practice what they say," said Gukiina. "They tell us to plant trees, but they do not.  [They say] ‘do as I say, but not as I do.’”

Taaka hopes even though they are still kids, her generation can change that.

“When kids are involved the adults can think, ‘Hmm, how can they be younger than us and yet they are doing it?’  If they are involved they will inspire other people to do it," said Taaka.

Masembe plans to make the conference an annual event, and to eventually hold regional conferences around East Africa.  Such events help plant the seed of environmentalism in the next generation, he says, one young delegate at a time. 

You May Like

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs