Zambia, 27 August: Media initiative brings youth to the front-line of climate crisis
By Vanessa Njovu and Michal Rahfaldt
LUSAKA, Zambia, 27 August 2010 – When Daniel Sichinga, 16, recently gathered a group of young Zambian Climate Ambassadors to record a radio talk show, he asked one guest, 17-year-old Tendai Nyirenda, about a burning issue in her community: climate change.
“Zambia is the second-most deforested country in the world, and Livingstone is one of the cities that has been most affected,” explained Tendai. “As Climate Ambassadors, we have identified that problem and are coming up with possible solutions.”
Daniel and Tendai were delegates at UNICEF’s second Zambian Children’s Climate Conference, held recently in Lusaka, the country’s capital. More than 90 Zambian Climate Ambassadors under 18 years of age from almost every province in the country attended the conference – and sharpened their advocacy skills. Tackling issues that ranged from carbon footprints to global warming, Zambia’s young people discussed topics that will affect their lives and shared their visions of change for the future.
Working with the non-governmental organization and UNICEF partner Children’s Radio Foundation, 16 of the young conference delegates formed part of the press crew that reported on the Zambian Children’s Climate Conference. Using audio recorders, video, cameras and blogs, the young reporters were trained to capture the experiences of Zambian youth with issues such as climate change and HIV and AIDS.
They also documented the efforts being made towards making a difference in their local communities.
Media that reach all
Organizing radio talk shows, conducting interviews, taking photos, writing feature articles on climate change and filming the proceedings of the conference, the young reporters have loaded their footage on to uniteforclimate.org, an online portal for youth climate change activism.
Lusaka resident Ceswa Mpandamabula, 15, was part of the press crew. He said that media is an essential tool for youth to address important issues.
“We’re living in a time where technology has taken over everything,” said Ceswa. “But only young people in cities usually have access, and most areas are not developed.”
To address this imbalance, media outlets such as radio – which are widely available and accessible – can help bring information to all people equally.
‘We’re all learning’
As part of the Children’s Radio Foundation initiative, Ceswa conducted interviews with several of his peers and heard about specific climate change issues and community adaptation strategies.
“It was really great to do an interview,” he said. “When you get to interview someone, you’re learning from them. And you’re also sharing with it many people on the radio, so we’re all learning.”
The Zambian Children’s Climate Conference focused on getting young people to develop climate change and HIV and AIDS advocacy campaigns to take back to their home communities.
To hear some of the audio and see photos from the event, please visit the Children’s Radio Foundation Zambian Children’s Climate Conference blog: www.radioworkshop.org.
Funding for ZCCC2 comes in part from a generous contribution from ING and the Netherlands Committee for UNICEF.
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