Climate Change is a global phenomenon that continues to impact negatively on many people’s lives. The need to urgently contain and adapt to changes it brings has become a global issue. Over the years, information dissemination and education about the adverse impact of climate change to different target groups living in different social settings has remained crucial.
In Zambia, BioCarbon Partners (BCP), a social enterprise fostering forests conservation has introduced effective ways of disseminating information on climate change to communities. In 2015, the company introduced Environmental Education Programs in four schools in Rufunsa District (targeting grade six pupils), building upon the curriculum previously developed used by Frankfurt Zoological Society and Conservation Lower Zambezi.
“As a company implementing conservation work in Zambia, community sensitization and education are at the pinnacle of our work. Our interactions with most communities mostly involve senior members of society. We also saw a need to involve children in our work and this led to the introduction of EEP in schools,” explains Hildah Mbalazi, BCP’s acting Community Engagement Manager. “The program was initially introduced in two government schools (Ndubulula and Namanongo primary school) as a pilot in 2014, but due to demand from other schools, we are now rolling it out in two more community schools (Mweeshang’ombe and Chilimba)” adds Mbalazi.
The Environmental Education Program has become an effective channel of spreading information on climate change from pupils to their parents and the larger community. The EEP highlight events include Special Environmental and Educational Days (SEED), of which one was held recently on November 25, 2015. This day saw Ndubulula and Namanongo Primary schools compete in various activities ranging from quizzes, football and netball.
To the two competing schools, this was no ordinary day. “This is a special day for this school and this community at large. Climate change has had bad effect on our lives and continues to do so. BCP’s initiative of spreading information to the people through schools should be commended. Deforestation is a common feature in our community and people need to understand the adverse impact of this practice. I firmly believe that through these kids, who are also the future leaders, this battle can be won,” explains Mr. Kawinezi Isaac, Namanongo primary school head teacher.
Alice Banda is a grade six pupil from Ndubulula and a beneficiary of EEP. “This program is important to this community, especially that we continue to lose forests through charcoal production. The program has helped us understand the implications of cutting trees indiscriminately.”
“It was not easy for local people to understand what BCP is doing in the area”, explains 12-year-old Tiyanjani Zulu, another grade six pupil at Ndubulula primary school. “At first people did not understand what BCP was trying to do. With time, we have learnt about the importance of conserving our forests not only for human beings but also for animals. We have also realised how our actions have affected our weather patterns. After school, I find time to share whatever lessons I learn with my parents and friends about the importance of conserving our environment.”
Maria Montessori once said: “Within a child lies the fate of the future.” As the world looks for ways of addressing climate change, the role of children in this fight cannot be underestimated.
“We are using children as ambassadors of change. Children have the ability to communicate this information to their parents and friends. It is also important to note that some of these kids have been involved in charcoal production before and through this work, they understand the implications of their actions both to their lives and the environment. They have also learnt about sustainable Eco-Charcoal production introduced by BCP. This project gives this community a chance to produce charcoal in a sustainable manner. Today we heard some of them explaining photosynthesis, and amazingly they could even explain the acronym for REDD. To us, this is a very big success story and we hope to continue with this kind of work,” concludes Ms. Mbalazi.
This blog is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The content of this blog are the sole responsibility of BCP and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.