Fourth Place Essay: “Impacts of climate change on the youth and innovative solutions to the crisis “ Essay Competition 2023

      The earth’s rhythms are out of tune and the planets temperatures are increasing more than ever before, our children are slowly dying, and our evergreen mahoganies are all withering almost to nothing, dried up leaving our motherland on her deathbed. Climate change, a global phenomenon that has become one of the most pressing issues of our time and this devil has attacked our country, our motherland, our home, Uganda.

One of the most profound effects of climate change is the concurring drought. We see the repercussions all the way to the northeast where our brothers and sisters are dying of starvation, struggling to live off barren dried-up soils that can no longer produce food to sustain their lives. Our magnificent harvests of maize and sorghum crop is soon to be a mere memory. The famine in our country is being brought about by the increase in sunshine intensity burning our soils and crops to ashes and one of the main causes of this is the massive deforestation that has been and is still happening in our country over the recent years where in the last 100 years we have lost 41.6% of our forest cover according to the illumine article written by Tukwatanise Bonita.

     Another painful and drastic effect of climate change is seen through the recent floods which have not only claimed the lives of many but also destroyed property and changed their lives for the worse. How could we forget, the epitome of the floods in 2020 where more than 49000 people were affected from Kasese to Nakasongola with reference to The Daily Monitor of 22nd May, 2020.  Many lost their lives and a large number of them were displaced and made homeless. One could have thought it ended there, but our country now is almost a swimming pool where the most affected districts are Kasese, Mbale and Rukungiri inclusive and this has been as a result of the alteration in the precipitation patterns which can be caused by the increase in evaporation rates and the increasing heat intensity causing rapid melting of the snow on the Rwenzori ranges.

We cannot ignore the direct impact of climate change on our future generation, the hope of our country. The impacts of climate change have taken a toll on their mental health and well-being of Uganda’s youth. Anxiety and depression and cases of hopelessness are prevalent among our young people who witness the degradation of their environment, loss of livelihoods, and uncertain future prospects where floods and drought are having a direct effect on education. Students are having trouble getting to school, in addition, the damaged infrastructure where most schools especially in Kasese have been destroyed by the floods. The unpredictable weather trends and disruption in the agricultural sector are making it hard for young people to find jobs especially those who depend on it as a source of income for not only their families but also to clear their fees tuition. This has not only made poverty worse but also made it harder for them to go to school and learn new skills.

            Though it may seem like all hope is lost, it is not! The youth today are striving and trying to combat climate change and find solutions to its effects. Here we see Patience Nabukalu who is determined to be the change she wants to see in her world cleaning up the shores of Lake Victoria monthly. She is also a representative of the ‘Most Affected People and Areas’ (MAPA) and through this she has and is still raising awareness about climate change and the rising concern to save the environment. I believe that it is from her example that many will realize the importance of taking care of our environment. 

        In Uganda today, many people irresponsibly dispose rubbish most of this is out of ignorance where they do not know the impact of their actions on not only us but also the environment. I believe this can be solved if we the youth take to the streets and talk about the environmental issues. This will be out of peaceful demonstrations and advocacy where we will not want to be heard but rather listened to. In addition T-shirts can also be printed in an effort to raise awareness.

How can I talk about youth making an emphasis to combat climate change and leave out the ones in my school, Gayaza High School? Over the recent years, the students have come up with a multitude of solutions to make the environment a better place and find ways of combating climate change. We have had community clean-up campaigns where we have gone out the school gates and picked not only plastic bottles but also litter around the Gayaza community. We have also gone the extra mile to find a solution for the enormous amount of plastic bottles where we have constructed dustbins made from used plastic bottles. 

     The impacts of climate change on not only the youth but everyone at large is far-reaching and multifaceted but, in the end, it is up to us to take action and protect our planet. As the African proverb states ‘If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have not spent time with a mosquito!’ I believe that every action we take no matter how small can make a difference in the fight against climate change and we must start now to create a better future for ourselves and generations to come.

Name:             CELINA SCEPTER

Class:              SENIOR FOUR

School:            GAYAZA HIGH SCHOOL

Country:         UGANDA