Building future eco-responsible generations.
Young children learn about recycling and how it can help to maintain a healthy environment.
“People pollute a lot because not much information is shared at school or at home about how this ultimately can contribute to climate change. How can we fight against something that we really don't talk about much? It should be taught in school and people should be made aware about it because at the moment they think it doesn't concern them. But we can show them, with some good examples,” explains Maïmouna, 17, a member of the Young Voices of Sahel (YVS) in Mali.
It is based on this realization that the Young Voices of Sahel in Mali, a group of around twenty young people and adolescents supported by UNICEF, are tackling climate change. The Young Voices of Sahel movement, supported by UNICEF Regional Office for West and Central Africa, gives young people in Mali, and in nine other Sahelian countries, the opportunity to take action that mitigate and slow down the effects of climate change.
The YVS in Mali have developed an action plan to help raise awareness among those around them about the impact of climate change. They encourage every citizen no matter how young to take action to limit related effects. This action plan includes awareness-raising activities, workshops, training sessions for children, and advocacy towards leaders and decision-makers. The implementation of their action plan has the support of experts from state and non-state organizations, and UNICEF.
In 2022, the YVS in Mali, began with cleaning and weeding the sports and play areas at the Cite des Enfants (Children's City) in Bamako as a prelude to a World Children's Day sports and games’ carnival. During the celebrations on November 19 and 20, the YVS in Mali served as mentors and raised awareness among children on the important role they must play to protect the environment.
“Protecting the environment is a duty for every good citizen. Children are the adults of tomorrow, so it is necessary to make them aware of the issues when they are young,” explains Alassane, 21, member of YVS in Mali.
Mali is among the countries that emit more greenhouse gases (GHG) today than in 1990
Mali has experienced one of the highest increases in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions – 211 per cent since 1990. Mali emits 38.52 million tons of GHGs according to United Nations Environment Programme estimatesi. In the capital Bamako, more than 22,000 m3 of waste is transported to a dumping siteii. This waste pollutes the air, soil, rivers and various recreational areas which often serve as playgrounds for children, adolescents and young people.
According to data published on August 20, 2021, by UNICEF, the climate crisis is a crisis for children. With high population growth rates and recurring challenges related to environmental degradation, poverty and conflict, the Sahel is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world as far as consequences of climate change are concerned. Children and young people will face the devastating consequences of the climate crisis, the lack of water or flooding, and yet they are the least responsible for it. Global warming, droughts, floods, famines, coastal erosion, urban pollution, etc. will all impact their lives and livelihoods.
During the Bamako’s Childhood and Leisure Week, held from December 23 to 26, 2022, the YVS in Mali organized a training workshop on simple techniques for recycling used materials. For two days, children from rural communities and from the school for the deaf were trained in how to recycle used objects such as tyres, empty water bottles and empty rice bags made of plastic materials.
With the support of their mentors from the Young Voices of Sahel, the participating children were able to make new useful tools for their schools and classrooms. Tyres and empty rice bags were transformed into stools; and garbage and water bottles ended up as pen holders and usable flowerpots.
“When l leave this workshop, I will talk to my classmates, students at my school and even kids in my neighborhood about what we can do with old things like empty water bottles instead of throwing them away. It can allow some parents to make a bit of money and help with school fees or even buy food for their children,” concludes Aminata, 14, who is a student from the one of the schools for the deaf in Bamako.
The YVS spokesperson in Mali, Aissata Sanogo was of the view that: "We young people have a great role to play in raising awareness in our communities, in our countries and among our leaders so that real actions in favor of maintaining a healthy environment is taken. We say yes to recycling and advocating for climate justice.”
The YVS in Mali, supported by UNICEF thanks to BMZ intends to extend their actions and invite young people from different regions of Mali, in the north and in the center to join them particularly those living in the regions most affected by the climate crisis; “because together and only by working together we can make the planet a better place”, they conclude.
“We say yes to recycling and advocate for climate justice”