Brandishing placards reading “Let us save Mother Earth, No Justice Without Climate Justice, There is No Planet B,” 17-year-old Bonita Murungi and a dozen of her peers protested on one of the streets in Uganda’s capital Kampala, calling on policymakers to enact strategies that address climate change effects.
Murungi was bringing the global environment protection fight to the young people, urging those in leadership to stop factors leading to climate change as the Earth Day was observed around the world.
After their April 22 protest near Aga Khan Primary School in the city center, Murungi and her colleagues planted a tree at the school campus, hoping to recruit more young people into the fight against factors leading to climate change.
The protest was in commemoration of the annual April 22 World Earth Day, whose theme was ‘Invest In our Planet’. The theme urged businesses to shift towards sustainable practices.
Five years ago, Murungi, who is also a writer and poet, joined climate change activism when she was still at primary school level. Years on, she is now at secondary school level and she has not lost focus. At her school, she formed an Environment Club, where youngsters convene and debate issues concerning environment protection.
Murungi told Xinhua in a recent interview that young people have a role to play in creating awareness about environment protection and also urging those in leadership to implement policies that protect the environment.
She said while several leaders have taken decisions to address factors causing climate change, they have not yet taken action.
“We are using our placards, we are using all of us to fight for something that not many people want to know about or listen to,” she added.
Nicholas Ssenyonjo, Murungi’s peer, said young people have a responsibility of ensuring that they protect the environment. He said they should not engage in activities that are detrimental to the planet.
“As the young generation, we are the future of our nation and this planet, we should stand together and fight for this planet,” Ssenyonjo said.
He urged the government to enforce the several policies and laws that were enacted to protect the environment. Uganda is still grappling with the use of single-use polythene bags despite it’s banned by government.
Noela Ninsiima, another young protestor said, “It is general knowledge that we need to fight for our planet as people. We cannot just sit around and accept the negative effects of our daily habits like all the gases that come from the industries we build.”
To inculcate environment protection issues in youngsters, the government has included several aspects of climate change in the school curriculum at different levels.
Deborah Magera, a specialist in early childhood care and education curriculum, said environment issues have been included in the different curriculums, starting from the kindergarten level.
“Even at the nursery level, we have an area where we encourage children to care about the environment, learn to interact with the environment,” Magera said.
According to the National Environment Management Authority, a state-run environment watchdog, although Uganda is still grappling with several environment protection challenges, there are still some gains.
“We have made many gains, we still have a lot of green, sound rivers, sound lakes, trees and forests. We have challenges but we are on course,” Naomi Karekaho, NEMA’s communication officer said. Enditem