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Image credit: Young African Leaders Talk and Action on Climate Change

Kiiza Saddam Hussein: A call for action

Kiiza Saddam Hussein: A call for action

How Queen’s Young Leaders are taking action on climate change

Image above: Kiiza and participants planting trees after a Young African Leaders Talk and Action on Climate Change event in Mbale and Bududa District, Uganda

2016 was the hottest year since records began, says Kiiza Saddam Hussein, and climate change is having devastating effects across the world. In this article, Kiiza looks at how he and other Queen’s Young Leaders are tackling climate change and outlines what else needs to be done – urgently.

The United Nations (UN), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the UK Meteorological Office have all warned us what will happen if the earth warms more than 2.5 degrees centigrade.

Devastating weather events are destroying what humankind took centuries to put together. Flooding in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, drought in China, extreme weather in the USA, Europe and Africa – no nation is immune from the dire consequences of inaction against climate change.

And, as the philosopher, Kathleen Dean Moore says, “Words alone cannot express the moral urgency of action."

Young African Leaders Talk and Action on Climate Change

Through my project, Young African Leaders Talk and Action on Climate Change, I have reached out to all the four regions of Uganda. I have met with local farmers, students, local leaders, the business community and civil society.

I have talked to people about climate change science and the need for resilience. I have explained how communities are required to embrace adaptation. At these community dialogues, people are given trees for planting and educated on the use of clean reliable energy sources like solar panels and biogas, which are also cheaper and more easily attainable. 

Uganda has been mired with devastating climate weather conditions which have claimed lots of people’s lives. For example in 2015 over 500 people died in landslides, which took place during severe rains in the eastern part of Uganda. Property was buried so that many survivors were left homeless.

Similarly in south western Uganda, where I am from, landslides take place whenever there is heavy rain. This has led to an increased number of deaths and property destruction, as well as disease and hunger.

It is this that made me determined to rise up against climate crisis. Now Young African Leaders Talk and Action on Climate Change has planted one million trees across Uganda. We plan to reach three million trees and promote more clean energy like solar power, biogas and hydro electricity.

But I would like to introduce you to some of the other Queen’s Young Leaders who are applying their indefatigable creativity to the challenge of climate change.

Queen’s Young Leaders

Elisha Bano, a 2015 Queen’s Young leader from Fiji, optimises passion and devotion in advocating for climate change and environmental conservation. Elisha works with young children to raise their awareness of climate change through poems, songs, art and performance. She brings creativity to the global campaign against climate change and makes sure the young people’s voices are heard and respected.

Lia Nicholson is from the Antigua and Barbuda. Lia is helping her government to develop and implement policies that will make the environment safer – such as building away from wetlands and constructing drainage channels to preserve water from contamination and pollution, which can have dire consequences on the population.

Lia has worked on different projects with international organisations like the UN and she believes young people should be consulted and involved in environmental protection and climate action. Lia also supports organisations that are working to implement climate change solutions in the community, by helping them to develop research and evidence to secure funding. In addition, Lia leads field trips and workshops, and visits schools to talk about the environment.

Her next goal is to create a network spanning all Caribbean islands that enables communities to work together and share innovative approaches towards protecting the environment and addressing climate change.

What to do

Our collective voices and actions will preserve this Earth as a better habitat for humans and nature. However we must strategically and drastically reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, like coal, to control carbon dioxide.

We must promote reforestation and reduce deforestation as well improve soil conservation to help the natural ecosystem absorb the excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

People must learn to adjust and adapt to new ways of living while using clean tools, like bicycles rather than cars, walking walkable distances, and sharing resources like transport and energy sources.

A woman removes water from her home in heavy rain

A young woman removes flood water from her home during heavy rain in Kiyovu, Uganda. Image credit: Kiiza Saddam Hussein

Developed countries have been huge contributors of fossil fuel gases in the past. They must chip in to support less developed countries with innovative clean technology and funding for sustainable adaptations within local communities.

Finally, we must push our governments to join our campaigns and implement policies that favour clean sustainable energy use, and a clean, green economy that would generate green jobs.