November 2010: Community outreach at Habitat for Humanity
Graceful hands transform bare land to green locale
By Kondwani Ngoma
The thin line between hope and despair lies in the way we respond to challenges that engulf our livelihoods. The fight against climate change took a positive boost when UNICEF climate ambassadors from Mongu and Lusaka participated in a community outreach programme at the Tiyende Pamodzi settlement on the Habitat for Humanity in Lusaka’s Mandevu compound on 16 November 2010.
Habitat for Humanity’s Tiyende Pamodzi community is strategically situated in Mandevu compound along the Great North road and actually very prominent along the road. The sad part is that every visitor driving into Lusaka through the Great North Road is greeted by the sight of this growing community settlement area which is bare. When people build houses around here, the first thing they do is to “clear the land”, this means chopping down all the trees. This is precisely the reason we picked on Habitat for Humanity for our project which turned out to be a huge success.
Habitat for Humanity area co-coordinator Mr. Yoyo expressed delight at the exercise. “We are extremely pleased by this initiative which will go a long way in protecting the environment as well as beautifying our residential area,” he said. “The importance of trees cannot be overlooked especially in this carbon dioxide dependant era because they act as sinks,” Yoyo said. The area which has a total of 93 houses holds and approximately 470 people received over 50 indigenous shade trees and 48 fruit trees provided by UNICEF Zambia’s climate ambassadors.
It was a joyous occasion because the household beneficiaries took serious responsibility in being a part of the outreach. They all helped out with digging of holes for planting and the families brought out their young children who also participated in the planting ceremony. The climate ambassadors did not just plant tree but they also shared valuable information with the families on the importance of planting trees as way to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Speaking at the same occasion was UNICEF Zambia Senior Communications Assistant Betty Chella Nalungwe who stressed the importance of the child-led programme. “Children are the most vulnerable to climate change but contribute the least,” she said. “We have ambassadors countrywide who make up Unite4Climate Zambia and we will continue supporting their projects to make this world a better place,” she added.
Sixteen-year-old Ambassador Mwangala Mwale emphasized the importance of climate change advocacy. “The sad truth is that very few people understand this Global phenomenon and with each day of inaction the problem grows,” she said. “Engaging in this activity is actually refreshing because you are doing nature and yourself a huge favor,” Mwangala said.
Indeed the journey is long and definitely challenging but with the ongoing arousal of individual conscience especially in the young people our hopes remain sky high. We are intrinsically linked and as such cannot escape the ruins that await nature if we do not play our role.
Habitat for Humanity had this to say about the outreach...
More than 50 young people were exposed to information shared by the UNICEF climate ambassadors bringing to light the issue of climate change and how they can make a difference in their communities.
The goal is for the climate ambassadors to help make climate change a household topic in Zambia, distributing information packs about it in both rural and urban settings. The ambassadors will try to increase their fellow Zambians’ awareness of this issue and ensure that the voices of young people are taken into consideration by environmental decision-makers at all levels.