Youth participation in community development is one of the most effective ways to promote young people’s active engagement in sustainable development. Murape Secondary School is showing that this is so, especially when it comes to climate change.
Although young people should be responsible for shaping their future as leaders of tomorrow, in many communities their participation is often limited to their labour contribution, and ignores the importance of their participation in decision-making, choices, and management.
The situation is very different at Murape Secondary School, one of the 10 FutureLife-Now! pilot schools, located in Seke District, Mashonaland, East Province, Zimbabwe. The school started a club called “The Climate Change Movers”. This club is working to empower its members to not only take decisions but to act on these. These young people work closely with the community to address issues they have learnt about and that they can see affecting their communities.
“Due to continuous power cuts in Zimbabwe, people have been cutting down trees in order to get firewood. This is reducing the number of trees in our community and accelerating climate change,” said Form 4 learner, 17-year-old Prominence Makeredza.
Another Climate Change Mover, 18-year-old Delyn Mudzingwa, added, “Trees and other plants are a natural carbon dioxide sink due to their ability to convert the carbon dioxide to oxygen. Planting trees reverses deforestation and hinders global warming and its effects.”
The Climate Change Movers decided to take action by planting trees around the community to help address this global threat. They called their project “Greening the School, Greening the Community”. Taking the project a step further, the learners held climate change campaigns to get the community involved. The result? One community member alone donated 250 indigenous species tree seedlings.
Michael Jokonya, Deputy Headmaster, and also one of the FutureLife-Now! peer educators said, “The donation helped to strengthen the ‘Greening the School, Greening the Community’ project and greatly helped to bring valuable information to the learners’ doorsteps about issues related to climate change. This project is in line with one of the FutureLife-Now! objectives, namely, tackling climate change through youth-led programmes.”
The club members have to date planted more than 350 trees around the school and their community, and continue to nurture the trees as well as run campaigns to mobilise the community to become involved in more tree planning.
“There are some positive outcomes from this youth engagement,” said Aussie Ndlovu, Zimbabwe’s FutureLife-Now! Country Manager. “The interactions between key local members and youth mean they can work together for positive change in the community. This has stimulated the community gatekeepers to readily listen and accept other youth initiatives on topics around sexual and reproductive health services, and HIV&AIDS which are part of the FutureLife-Now! agenda.”