Countering the change: African youth taking on climate change

Thursday, August 18, 2011

It was quite a spectacle: 300 children from Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania dancing to demand the creation of a fair international climate agreement.

The event was the recent pan-African climate campaign, marking the build-up to the COP17 summit in South Africa in December.

Winnie Asiti from the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change says that with the world focusing on the extreme drought in the Horn of Africa, it is important to be thinking along two lines. “We must help the millions of people in critical distress but we must also focus to limit human-induced climate change.”

David Wainaia, also from AYICC, says the drought now affecting Kenya and neighbouring countries shows that Africa is among those hardest hit by climate change. “And it is we as young people who will live this future. World leaders [must] now open their eyes.”

The drought and famine highlight the need for a fair international agreement on climate change to avoid other similar such disasters, says Guri Storaas, a climate change advisor for ACT member Norwegian Church Aid.

African youth networks and religious communities are running another campaign, Have Faith - Act Now for Climate Justice which is working to make sure the COP 17 climate negotiations are better than previous climate summits.

Have Faith will end in a massive inter-faith rally in the FIFA soccer stadium in Durban on November 27, the day before the climate summit starts. There, 1000 children will sing for climate justice in a massive choir. Dignitaries such as former Anglican bishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu and former Irish president Mary Robinson have confirmed they will take part.

This story was initially published at

Photo: ACT/NCA/Guri Storaas