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Climate change through the eyes of Mathare youth


As the World readies itself for the 27th UN climate change conference of parties COP 27 that is slated later in the year in Sharm El- Sheikh Egypt, the term climate change will definitely heavily feature at the conference. World leaders, environmentalists, stakeholders in climate change issues and even Journalists will use these words in their quest to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN framework convention on climate change.

To start with, what really is climate change? And why is the world so invested into it? Is it that important? Does the common Mwananchi or even the youth understand it in detail? I engaged the youth residing in Mathare Nairobi just to get a glimpse of what they know about climate change.

“Climate change nimeiskia lakini kuisoma zaidi ndio sikuisoma.hii kitu watu wanaisomanga ….naskianga tu climate change hapo kwa news…leo mvua inanyesha mahali fulani but sijawahi tekingi time yangu kuisoma. I have personally heard of climate change but I am not well versed with it. Actually I have never shown interest in it,” Otoyo Dennis a youth from area 51 said.

“Climate change?Mimi hata sijui hiyo kitu ni nini walai hata siko interested na hizo vitu za wazungu .I don’t know what climate change is… climate change is a whites affair not us Africans  ,” Mercy Jones another youth from Ngei added.


“Ningeomba government kupitia ministry of environment kucome up na trainings za kututeach mambo na climate change…mimi sikua najua mambo ya climate change na imagine mimi ni mbigi…mimi nikikosa kujua mtoto wangu atajua kweli? kuna wenye hatukuenda shule. I am pleading with the ministry of environment to visit Mathare and sensitize us more about climate change. I am older now but still I can’t differentiate what climate change is and not, you know I didn’t go to school so things climate change is new. If personally I have no clue what it is how will I be able to teach my child what climate change is? ,”Vincent Ochieng aka mbanga from mlango kubwa said.

From the responses I got, I came to realize climate change is still a pipe dream especially among people living in the slums, youth not left behind. Most of the youth were unaware of the global response in tackling climate change.

But despite all the disheartening responses I got with regards to climate change Brian Kimani also a youth from Mathare tried to save the day.

“I like giving credit where it’s due if government au ministry ya environment imefanya nitasema.. ikuwe haijafanya nitasema pia. If the Ministry of Environment or Government in general performs that is with regards to climate change I will gladly congratulate them if they haven’t performed I will openly say No. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has done less in teaching us the youth in Mathare on the adaptations and mitigations of climate change; apart from the planting of trees what else can we do to improve global warming as the youth? Are there any smart ideas in relation to agriculture, water harvesting, manufacturing etc. that we need to know apart from tree planting and cleaning the river? I feel like this is outdated. We should now be focusing of the adaptation efforts of climate change,” he said.

Caroline Waceke a community Environmentalist from Mathare reveals that most of the youth not only in Mathare were unaware of the climate change or global warming or even the global responses to it. This she said is despite the youth admitting that they have experienced climate change effects like changing weather patterns, drought, and increase in temperature and even unstable rainfall patterns in the country.

“Ukionge na youth wa kawaida wao hukuanga na the big picture, hao huwa hawaoni ni kitu inazawaaffect. wanajuanga ni conference za uko mbele ndio wanajua kuongelelea hizo vitu  but in our small ways as enviromentalists kuna zile vitu vidogovidogo huwa vinatuaffect they might not realize it but ukiwaelezea wataelewa tunakuwanga na forum kadhaa za climate change ambapo sisi huwa tunawalezea vitu vidogo vidogo sio kuwapa big words za Cop 26 coz hawataelewa.Most youth not only in Mathare but in general lack the interest in matters climate change, they think that climate change is a foreigners issue and not African passé, but with our community trainings we usually enlighten them on what climate change is and why it is important for humans to save planet earth. Slowly by slowly they get interested in it,” she said.

A close look at the National Climate Change Action Plan 2018- 2022 does not show how the government intends to work with the youth in matters climate change. This maybe is one of the major reasons as to why the youth have little information on climate change especially with regards to the Adaptation and the Mitigation efforts.

The Effects of climate change that is an outcome of the greenhouse gas emissions which causes global warming is currently being experienced in most parts of the country North Eastern counties and the Laikipia County in particular.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, approximately 2 million people are facing starvation in whom 12 people  have been reported dead and about 1000 livestock dead too.

In simple terms, climate change or global warming is the process of the planet earth heating up, scientists say that the world started breaking the carbon dioxide CO2 records in 1950 that is the Industrial revolution time and we have never stopped. You know the reason why? Scientists say that the human activities like cutting down of trees to make way for cities and even driving cars, is the cause. You know this kind of inventions and technologies do need energy.

Fossil and fuels which is a type of energy that is critical currently in the world consists of coal, natural gas and even oil, so burning of these fuels do release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere which we now call emissions.

Most developed countries are a big contributor to the greenhouse gas emissions, among them being China and the USA. In the US for example planes, trucks and cars are responsible for the emissions to the atmosphere. These gases that are released into the atmosphere do trap heat from the sun and start warming the earth which is now called the greenhouse effect

Another type of gas that contributes to climate change is methane; this gas comes from cows, so when cows eat methane usually builds up in the digestive system and which is usually released in form of a burp.

Let’s us also not forget that deforestation is also a contributor to climate change, trees do play a  part of absorbing carbon dioxide and which is another greenhouse gas and later release oxygen back into the atmosphere. This is the reason as to why environmentalists are currently on the government’s neck with regards to the ongoing construction of the Nairobi expressway and which has led to many trees being cut down.