Fridays For Future Uganda steps up to #BeatAirPollution

By Nirere Sadrach

Our World Environment Day in Uganda started with a tree planting session at Najanankumbi Young Christian High School in Entebbe. Namugerwa Leah – a Fridays for Future Uganda climate striker – led the tree planting, with trees that were donated by Green Climate Campaign Africa (GCCA) as part of their Green Schools Project.

We then took the climate action to Makerere University School of Food and Technology, where we hosted a youth dialogue with 65 university and high school the students, under the topic of Air Pollution and Children.

Climate Strikers welcome Precious Hill High School as a member of the Fridays For Future network.

A representative of the Swedish Embassy honoured the session with a keynote speech, who emphasised the need for global collective action towards combatting the climate crisis. The representative also gave insight into Sweden’s progress in declaring a climate emergency and building sustainably. With this message he called upon young Ugandans to be innovative, hardworking, and to strive to be a solution when it comes to the climate crisis.

Climate Strikers, school pupils, and university students with representatives of the Swedish Embassy.

Six Climate Strikers from Fridays for Future Uganda, including Matovu Bob, Adong Cicilly, Irene Kananura, Namugerwa Leah, Nakabuye Hilda Flavia, and myself as the Uganda Climate Striker Coordinator, Nirere Sadrach, led a panel discussion, which was moderated by Tim Mugerwa, Director of Green Climate Campaign Africa and African Climate Reality Project’s East Africa Regional Coordinator.

The Fridays For Future Uganda leaders team, from left: Nirere Sadrach, Cicilly Adong, Namugerwa Leah, Matovu Bob, Nakabuye Hilda Flavia, Irene Kananura.

The discussion focused on Uganda’s way forward to combatting Air Pollution. 17-year-old Climate Striker, Bob Matovu called for a ban on importing used or old vehicles, because they are lead polluters when it comes to road transport. These vehicles, which are mostly used for public transport in crowded urban areas, are a threat to people’s health. The uncontrolled industrial emissions of toxic fumes into the Kampala skyline will soon start causing serious damage.

At the youth dialogue, I gave an overview of our progress on raising the Uganda Students and Youth’s climate demands, and what we believe needs to be addressed in Uganda’s official climate action plan. To us, a group of young Ugandans, marking World Environment Day as the climate striking generation reaffirms the role we play as young people, protecting the only planet we have. I personally focus on behavioural change and a lifestyle shift towards green practices that – as I like to say – Keep Mama Africa Green.

We call upon other youth, and school officials to allow students, to participate in the Fridays For Future #SchoolStrike4Climate, and together we can be a bigger voice demanding climate action.