Youth concerns about environment and climate change By Regina John Introduction: On 08th October 2016 YPM gathered 132 youths from six schools with Ordinary level and Advanced level secondary schools. The schools were…..who came with their responsible teachers. The intention of the gathering was to further the work on International Youth Day that was not implemented on the 12th of August. This was intended to make sure that there is both clear permission of participation from targeted schools and the time for them to prepare to come up with something concrete. As part of the celebrations, there were themes that were given to the Ordinary level Secondary Schools that was….. and for the Advanced Level Secondary Schools it was….. In the presentations the Youths while identifying themselves with the importance of being a participating and active youth in the community, it was also a chance to work and see what impact do they have to their surroundings; the target was thus on how they impact environment and related issues in their community. The day was colored by the representative of the District Executive Director (DED) and the Environment Department Leader from the Local Government authority.
Among the issues that were raised by youths on that day include the following; School Drop-out and environment. Environmental challenges lead to school drop-outs in many cases. This is caused by heavy punishments that students get when they go to school while late due to having duties like collecting firewood or fetching water in the morning before going to school. When they are punished they lose hope in education and refuse to go to school. This is an environmental issue because they have to travel for a long distance for water and firewood due to drought and severe deforestation. Early pregnancy and marriages. This was the concern from Prince Clause Secondary school students as one of the identified environmental challenges. This occurs after school drop-out youths especially girls find themselves having nothing to do where they decide to engage themselves in different immoral behaviours which lead them to early marriages, early pregnancies and sometimes getting HIV/AIDS. It was also shared that raping occurs most of the time when they are looking for water or firewood in the bushes. Environmental challenges also result to separation of families and marriages. Many women are divorced when they come home late from fetching water or collecting firewood which creates street children in the society.
Students from Ubiri Secondary school demonstrating school dropout and early marriage as an environmental issue. Is Environment a gender issue? Youths have discovered that environment is a gender issue by showing different challenges that both men and women face which are caused by environmental destruction. Poverty among women, women have been observed to be involved in agricultural activities and production more than men. Environmental destruction causes climate change which reduces the ability of land to produce; this causes women to suffer looking for food for their children and families. Students from Shambalai Secondary school commented that droughts and unreliable rainfall creates unprofitable agriculture. Youths are so much exposed to Poverty, hunger and Famine. Intensive use of Natural resources without replacement and restoration makes youth to be in fear of their future. Too much deforestation today which leads to lack of rain creates droughts which affect land’s ability to produce. This concern was raised by students from Lushoto Secondary School during the event. This continues to expose youths into different diseases such as malnutrition, and waterborne disease. Poverty also will exceed as so many Africans families incomes depend on agriculture. District Environmental Officer Mr. Lymo Government efforts toward Environmental Conservation and Restoration. On this day youths wanted to be aware of the current Government efforts towards environmental conservation and climate restoration within the district. A representative from Lushoto District Council answered by explaining different efforts made by the Government on the Matter.
The government has imposed fines to the illegal use of Natural Resources like forest. In the year 2015/2016 they have collected 11 million Tanzanian shillings from fines imposed to the people who were caught collecting firewood, timber and burning charcoal. Also the government is making efforts to provide education to the community about environment and this made them to discover that above 1500 people in the district do not have toilets. The District also make the use of The Forest Act no 14 of 2002 which gives penalty to a person who lights fire in the forest by giving a punishment of 14 years imprisonment. Example there was a case in 2009 between the Republic versus Selemani Shempasi and four others who were convicted by the District court of Lushoto to serve five years in prison and to give compensation. All these are the Government efforts to ensure that environment is protected for today and future Generation. Do youths have a chance to give their possible solutions towards environmental conservation? During the event, youths from different schools demonstrated different ways that may be applied to ensure that environment is protected and restored for their future. Different creative strategies for environment restoration on renewable energy were demonstrated by students from Mazinde Juu Secondary school.
This renewable Energy is expected to be collected from wind. The aim of this demonstration was to show that community can shift from the use of firewood and charcoal to serve the environment. Students from Mazinde Juu explaining how wind can be harvested Another strategy was demonstrated by Shambalai Secondary School. They concentrated on planting trees which will reduce CO2 on air and trees will act as wind breakers. They came up with a diagram which shows the environmental impact between the area which do not have trees and the area which contains a number of trees. They added by saying that trees reduce possibilities of the occurrence of erosion either by wind or running water therefore trees do not only act as a CO2 sink but also can help in the addition of soil fertility and trees ensures the availability of water. Students from shambalai Secondary school. As the matter of energy use and poor disposal of wastes is concerned in developing countries, Ubiri Secondary school students demonstrated different ways which my be used to reduce concentration on natural resources. They demonstrated on how people can recycle used papers to make charcoal that instead of throwing them away they can be recycled. They also demonstrated how people can use the remains from charcoal (charcoal ash) to make another charcol. As the picture below demonstrate. The Question remains that: the world’s efforts is to reduce the concentration of CO2 on air by discouraging industrialization and the use of non renewable energy. For developing countries like Tanzania we are in the era of Industrialization as the motto of the 5th Government is concerned (Tanzania ya Viwanda). A student from Shambalai Secondary school named Samuel Thomas (A-Level) is asking on how will the Government take into consideration the issues of environmental conservation with Tanzania Ya Viwanda? It is suggested by the students that efforts of industrialization should consider environmental conservation for the current and future generation.