Plant a Tree: spreading awareness about climate change
Growing up in a country where mass cutting down of trees is becoming frequent, Yande Changala from Zambia refused to sit down and watch.
Deforestation rates are significant in Zambia, with approximately 300,000 ha of forest cover lost per year. (1) Across Zambia, worsening impacts of climate change including more frequent and intense droughts and floods have led to food, water and energy insecurity, especially among the country's most vulnerable rural communities. (2)
In her attempt to find out the root cause of deforestation in her country, Yande realized that the lack of adequate information to the general public about the effects of cutting down trees on climate change is the main reason behind deforestation. Armed with this knowledge, Yande embarked on her changemaking journey aiming to change the attitude of people towards cutting down trees without re-planting them.
This is when Yande started a project called ‘The Plant A tree Campaign’ with the mission of creating strong sensitization about climate change among high school students while teaching them about re-afforestation.
With this campaign, Yande was able to equip selected young people with the right information and tools and prepare them to continue raising awareness of climate change and the importance of reforestation.
However, this was not an easy process for Yande, as shifting behaviours and changing people’s perspectives comes with a lot of challenges.
During the implementation of ‘The Plant A Tree Campaign,’ Yande found it difficult to access adequate information and statistics about climate change. Not only that but, she was not clear about how to create working partnerships and mobilize resources efficiently. Though these challenges slowed down her work, she made sure to always show up for young people with courage, compassion and collaboration.
Through her campaign, Yande was able to impact 100 people through physical and online meetings about awareness regarding deforestation, afforestation and climate change. The participants were not only high school and primary school students but teachers as well!
‘The change that was so evident was in how young people understood the role they had to play in the fight against climate change. Many of them believed that climate change could not be dealt with, and any attempts would be futile. However, during the implementation phase, when they were asked what their role is in contributing to innovative ideas against deforestation, their response showed their shift in perspective and the importance of the awareness session,’ Yande explains.
When asked what advice she would give for young people wanting to start changemaking projects Yande said: ‘Be open-minded, embrace change and have a fighting spirit. Many factors that will hinder the work may come up, but that doesn't call for giving up, it calls for you to look within and overcome the challenges presented to you.’