KAMPALA – In a recent statement submitted to the ongoing World Leaders Summit during the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) on Climate Change in Glasgow, UK, president Museveni highlighted several “irresponsible and sometimes greedy human actions” that have contributed to the destruction of the environment. He cited the depletion of forests, wetlands as well as the role of big emitters of greenhouse gases among the factors exacerbating the problem.
Recent years have seen the intensity and frequency of floods, droughts, landslides, heat waves, and other climate-driven disturbances. The recent rise in Lake Victoria’s water level has impacted heavily on the population that lives on the lake’s shoreline. Every waking day sees an increase in the loss of forest cover, encroachment on wetlands, lakeshores, and river banks.
Unfortunately, most people, leaders inclusive are adamant about the available knowledge on how to go about building resilience to protect our environment from degrading.
At one point in life, we have all littered a “kaveera” (polythene bag), or any other form of rubbish in the compound, at the roadside, or even in a taxi. This has not happened just once, but twice and so many other times by not just you but several others. Somehow, this carelessly littered garbage, unfortunately, finds its way to our water bodies and underneath our treasured soil.
If you have ever visited landing sites (omwaalo) and slums like Katanga, Namuwongo, Bwaise name it, the situation in which the residents of these areas are live and survive is so alarming. Although these areas have poor garbage and waste management mechanisms, the situation is exacerbated by detrimental human activities.
According to Sustainable Development Goal 13, Climate Action aims to help solve these problems. According to the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service, it is estimated that around 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction.
The teachings about climate change have been treated as some sort of corporate debate held on a round table. Because of this, there has been a continuous communication gap leading many to believe that climate change can wait. Unfortunately, every day that goes by makes this bad situation even worse.
Different interventions have been put in place, like the “Tuve Ku Kaveera” environmental campaign, aimed at sensitising and creating awareness among the public about the dangers of single-use plastic bags to our environment and to showcase alternatives to Kaveera. Human activity has altered almost 75 percent of the earth’s surface, squeezing wildlife and nature into an ever-smaller corner of the planet. Different individuals and organisations have advocated for tree planting and the government is also playing its part in preserving our swamps.
However, there is a need to centralise and simplify climate change and environmental protection messages and communication right from the grass-root level of the community. What are the chances that a layman will understand a term like global warming, the Ozon layer, green house gas, among others? This needs to be addressed urgently and executed systematically for even a layman to understand the importance of preserving our environment.
People need to hear about the reasons why so that they can look for how to preserve our environment. Nature is critical to our survival, nature provides us with our oxygen, nature regulates our weather patterns, nature pollinates our crops, nature feeds us and nature excites us.
Therefore, there is a need to shape the next generation right from an early stage so that they can grow to become agents of change and desire to protect the environment.
As we celebrate World Science Day for Peace and Development under the theme “Building Climate-Ready Communities” we should opt for transformative changes to restore and protect nature and continue to create awareness from the grass root levels of communities to the national level. Together, let’s simplify the science behind environmental protection for a unified fight.
Amoit Judith Grace
The writer is the publicity assistant at River Flow International – Science Teachers’ Initiative (RIFI-STI)