Posts tagged " malawi "

Week 1 Update – The first blog post from our Young Leaders in Malawi

February 28th, 2019 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

The first week of the much-anticipated trip to Malawi has been a whirlwind as Naomi and I try to get our bearings and settle in to a month of life here. For eight months 2050 has been working with colleagues in Malawi on the Malawi Climate Leaders project and it’s been exciting and eye-opening to finally meet them, see more pieces of the project and understand their context much better.

In Scotland we often discuss how we would like for climate change to be a ‘household name’ or a ‘kitchen table conversation’. In Malawi, it’s become very clear very quickly that climate change is a household word, climate change is a ‘kitchen table conversation’ because it is literally impacting what is on the kitchen table.

There is no doubt that people understand that climate change is a problem. There is no denial, there is no scepticism. It is real. It is now. And people are palpably worried about what it is already doing and going to do to their lives.

We have heard stories about how climate change impacts on agriculture are challenging to the communities, as well as stories about scarce electricity during the dry season due to the country’s dependence on hydro-electricity. By scarce, we mean 4 hours per day in the capital city Lilongwe…

We experienced a couple of normal rain storms during our first week, and you can see the impact on roads, infrastructure, and buildings in a matter of minutes. A ‘normal’ rainy season storm would have the same impact on roads and infrastructure as a once-in-ten year storm would have on the infrastructure in Scotland. This is not even to consider the impact of small flooding or extreme weather patterns over time.

When we talk about vulnerability… this is what we mean… on the photo, you can see the only road (or what’s left of it) to the campus of a technical college, where students live and study.

  

We were with our Project Coordinator, Promise and his friend, who works at this college when we drove over this part of the road. He joked about the road collapsing… I guess this is one way of coping with vulnerability.

It’s easy to think that education and awareness-raising is the silver-bullet… that once people know what is wrong and what they can do, they will come up with solutions. However, when I reflect on what I have learned this last week about the role of young people in Malawi on climate change in the terms we usually use, there is much less need for ‘educate’ and ‘engage’, but instead a much stronger focus on ‘empower’ and ‘lead’.

So far we have had many specific conversations with young people about how they feel about their place in society. In Malawi, 70% of the population is under the age of 30, but in their culture and economy there are not enough opportunities for young people, let alone opportunities to lead. Of the project participants we have spoken with already, this sense of empowerment, leadership and action is what attracted them to this project specifically.

Related to this, we have also discovered that there are lots of organisations that work on young people and climate change, perhaps because of the unique demographic dynamic. But something that Promise and Joanna both reflected on from their experience in Scotland, is that the emphasis on action is not always present. They, and other young leaders, are keen to get this kind of momentum for action going here. This seems to be the unique part of this project’s place in Malawi, as well as in Scotland.

 

Malawi Climate Leaders Visit SEPA

February 28th, 2019 Posted by Blogs No Comment yet

I heard about snow, I saw it on TV but I never had the chance to see it in real life. It was so pleasing and satisfying to see snow blanket the farmland on our way to SEPA for our meeting. We started the day with a presentation that covered what the Scottish Environment Protection Agency does, what its goals are and what it does to achieve them. We learned of SEPA’s strategy and the motives behind their actions and plans. I was moved by the notion that over time, Scotland has been able to pursue environmental protection while being adaptive to changing times and technologies. Worthwhile noting was the fact that Scotland has had to go through various stages to get where it is at present. There was an uphill mountain to climb but people did not feel complacent or accept the situation. They learned from their experiences, including some failure, to get where they are today and this is something I can take back home with me.

SEPA are committed to protect and improve Scotland’s environment, in ways that can also have social and economic benefits. Our visit occurred on the same day as the one-year celebration of the Sustainable Growth Agreement (SGA) with 2050 Climate Group. This is a document that commits both to positive climate action. SEPA partners with organisations for SGAs that have the vision and foresight to say we need a different society and economy. They are committed to protecting and improving Scotland’s natural environment through helping operators, businesses and individuals realise the many economic and social benefits of good environmental practice. They support organisations that have the vision to go forward and make Scotland a low carbon country. They provide guidance, support, regulations and information to any person or business considering environmental matters.

We also got to hear of the technologies and the systems used to monitor and manage waste management sites. I consider Malawi to be failing with waste management as many manufacturers are disposing their waste as they see fit and are even using their financial muscles to force through retrogressive court injunctions. As a country, Malawi received a regulation to ban the production and use of thin plastic papers. However the manufactures got a court injunction to stop the ban. It is now two years or more down the line and nothing has been done to the injunction.

Malawi also sees very inconsistent rainfall patterns. It has failed to manage the river catchment areas and siltation. People have lost their lives and their homes in Malawi’s yearly flooding events. It was great to learn about SEPA’s flood warning system and their mitigation strategies. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail and we all need evidence to plan effectively.

Among several other talks on land degradation, we learned how the ecosystem is monitored and how through analysing the land and water, SEPA is able to tell the level of pollution at a given site. Walking through the labs was not only exciting and memorial but also a sign of what a committed, science based system towards a cause can achieve.

One day I will speak about how education, awareness and advocacy have been brought to the fore by SEPA. It is no secret that Motherwell did not just give me my first experience seeing snow (which I really enjoyed and loved) but it also gave wisdom and a wider perspective of what an organised and coordinated organisation can achieve for a country. Can we do this at home?

Promise Matatiyo, Project Coordinator (https://2050.scot/malawi-climate-leaders/)


Malawian Youth Climate Leaders meet Scottish Government Ministers

January 25th, 2019 Posted by News No Comment yet

MaSP and 2050 Climate Group shared experiences of the Malawian Youth Climate Leaders project with Scottish Government Ministers this week.

Promise Matatiyo and Joanna Ziwa met with  Ben Macpherson, the Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development and Roseanna Cunningham, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform.

Here, they had the opportunity to share their stories about innovative energy solutions, sustainable development education and climate change advocacy in the country.  It was also a chance for the Minister and Cabinet Secretary to hear firsthand about the impact this project has already had on the lives of young leaders in Malawi.

Climate change impacts in Malawi includes extreme weather events that induce devastating flooding and droughts, which negatively affect food and water security, energy security, livelihoods and conservation efforts.

Vera Kamtukule, Chief Executive of the Malawi Scotland Partnership (MaSP) said: “Malawi is a country, which is at the sharp end of the effects of climate change where its impacts are a reality now.

“Nearly half of Malawi’s population is aged 18 or under and so it’s right that young people are key agents of change in this most pressing issue.

Malawian Youth Climate Leaders Promise and Joanna meeting with Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham, MSP and Ben Macpherson, MSP

“The interconnectivity of the effects of climate change with our economy cannot be over emphasised. I know from Minister Ben Macpherson’s visit to Malawi last summer, which we greatly appreciated, that listening to the voice of Youth is a priority for the Scottish Government as well.”

As part of the Scotland’s 2018 Year of Young People, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced funding for a new partnership project between MaSP and 2050 Climate Group in April last year at the Youth Climate Summit in Glasgow.

Together, these organisations with the support from the Scotland Malawi Partnership are collaborating on the Malawi’s Climate Leaders project, which aims to deliver climate change engagement training and create a network of ambitious young individuals that want to contribute to a sustainable future.

The purpose of this partnership is to empower young Malawians and increase their leadership roles in climate action. The role of 2050 Climate Group is to inspire and support youth leadership while facilitating a two-way intercultural exchange between volunteers of both organisations.

MaSP has built many successful connections with existing youth organisations on the ground such as the National Youth Council, creating a steering committee of young individuals aged below 35 to shape the project activities and recruited 26 Youth Leaders from all over Malawi who will participate in the project.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Rural Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham said: “I am pleased that the Scottish Government continues to support the efforts of the 2050 Malawi’s Climate Leaders project, which does fantastic work empowering young leaders to support the delivery of a just, low carbon future.

“The Minister for International Development and I were delighted to hear directly from two of the project’s young climate leaders. The work they are doing to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and building a network of young people who are committed to finding socially-just solutions to tackling climate change in Malawi is truly inspirational.”

Elizabeth Dirth, Trustee of 2050 Climate Group, said: “Young people, as crucial stakeholders in tackling climate change and its coming impacts, should be given the knowledge, tools, and authority to create a future they want to be a part of.

“This holds true just as much in Malawi as it does in Scotland. This project between MaSP and 2050 Climate Group is a key example of an ambitious and innovative climate change project run by young people for young people.

“As Scotland’s youth-led charity empowering young people to take action on climate change, we think it is essential for the international community to recognise and nurture young people to be leaders on climate action and climate justice.”

For more information, visit the 2050 Climate Group website.