UNITE 4 CLIMATE ZAMBIA
What is it all about?
Unite4Climate Zambia is one of UNICEF’s signature child-led advocacy programmes. It partners with young people in all of the country’s nine provinces to combat climate change and is helping to empower and inspire thousands of children. Through media programmes, debates, and advocating for the construction of floating schools in flood-prone areas, Zambia’s young Climate Ambassadors are agents of change. Reaching to 200 climate ambassadors each year and equipping them with the “pay it forward” concept, Unite4Climate Zambia is working to make Zambia and the global community more equitable.
How it all started?
In December 2009 children from around the world got together for the first Children’s Climate Forum (CCF), held in Copenhagen, Denmark before the United Nations climate summit (COP15). The CCF, organized by UNICEF, was a unique platform where children could voice their concerns about different climate issues affecting communities. Four Climate Ambassadors from Zambia attended the event and were passionate about replicating the experience back home. Inspired by the CCF experience, the Zambian Climate Ambassadors partnered with UNICEF Zambia to create the flagship program: Unite 4 Climate Zambia – a nationwide program to inspire and foster child-led action on climate change reduction advocacy and HIV and AIDS prevention.
Why is Climate Change a Problem in Zambia?
There are many visible effects of climate change in Zambia which have impacted many sectors such as health, agriculture as well as the economy.
Floods have not only destroyed houses and crops but have also resulted in the outbreak and spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, and dysentery.
Droughts and irregular rain patterns have caused crop failure and have largely reduced the food security of the country.
The fact that Zambia is already facing the impacts of climate change cannot be denied and its effects can be seen all over the country. However, the majority of the population is uninformed about this matter. Many people do not know how they are contributing to climate change or how they can do something about it.
That is exactly what Unite 4 Climate Zambia is trying to tackle. Unite 4 Climate Zambia has since 2009 trained over 500 children from all of the country’s 10 provinces. After the training, the ambassadors sensitize their peers in schools and surrounding communities, undertake various environmental projects and have proved to be effective agents of change.
The Zambian Children’s Climate Conferences
The first Zambian Children’s Climate Conference (ZCCC) was held from April 26–28, 2010 in Lusaka.
About 156 ambassador delegates from nine provinces were engaged in an intensive three-day program filled with presentations from climate experts, thematic discussions, practical skills building workshops, and field visits.
The program was designed to educate ambassadors on a broad range of issues related to climate change, as well as to show practical and simple ways in which they could tackle those issues.
Ambassadors were challenged to design their own action plans and lead climate change awareness raising campaigns back in their communities. Following the training, ambassadors started an environmental dialogue with their peers and communities.
Building on that experience, the second Conference was held from 23- 27 August 2010, in Lusaka where 75 Climate Ambassadors from nine provinces were led through a week-long mentored process. The training guided the children step-by-step on project management. The conference also had a series of creative workshops, some of which were led by UNICEF partners including:
– Media (radio and video) in partnership with the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF);
– HIV/AIDs and Life skills in partnership with Restless Development and UNICEF Zambia’s Education section;
– Theater and music in partnership with Barefeet Theatre;
– Painting & Talking Walls;
– Sports for development, in partnership with Sports in Action;
– Using the Internet for advocacy.
The Climate Ambassadors were able to design a comprehensive action plan through the mentored process and were also able to discuss their plans in detail with Zambia-based climate experts, including from the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources. As a result, at the end of ZCCC2 all the ambassadors had concrete action plans, as well as different creative tools they could use to communicate their advocacy goals and mobilize their communities.
This work continued, and it was time to scale it up – from 22-27 August 2011, the third Zambian Children Climate Conference (ZCCC3) was held – this time bringing together 300 Climate Ambassadors from all provinces for a time of sharing and learning.
This time, 20 more experienced Climate Ambassadors were invited to return and serve as Youth Facilitators, working along the international youth facilitators to prepare peer-to-peer lesson plans, and to run workshops educating new ambassadors on different issues related to climate adaptation and mitigation, HIV prevention, life skills and communications!
Four youth Climate Ambassadors from Denmark also joined the conference.
What has U4C Zambia achieved so far?
In between each of the ZCCCs the U4C Climate Ambassadors work to put their action plans into action – as a result, Zambia has witness the rise of a child-led green movement which is growing in all corners of the country.
So far, the Climate Ambassadors have led various actions across country. For example, ambassadors from Chipata, Lusaka, Kabwe and other cities have mobilized seedlings and tools from local authorities and have organized tree planting days in their communities. Ambassadors from Lusaka have also organized litter clean-up days as part of their strategy to raise awareness in the wider community. Ambassadors from Kabwe are visiting communities of charcoal burners to sensitize and raise their awareness on the problems created through uncontrolled deforestation. Ambassadors from Mongu and Lusaka have also received further training on radio journalism. The Mongu ambassadors are using their radio training skills to create radio podcasts advocating for the creation of a floating school in the area.
Apart from group projects, there have been individuals such as Ndola-based Jack Kafwanka who has scored remarkable achievements by establishing a factory that recycles sawdust to make a new environmentally friendly fuel which produces less smoke than the widely use charcoal.
The Wildlife and Environmental Conservation Society of Zambia is our implementing partner in this programme supporting the work of the Ambassadors in all provinces. The Children’s Radio Foundation leads the programmes’s media work. Unite4Climate Zambia is able to achieve all this through generous funding from ING, the Netherlands Committee for UNICEF, and the Danish National Committee for UNICEF.