Published by Camilla on 15 Dec 2011 at 03:39 am
“My ambition is to empower the local community. When we empower people, they are more likely to want to create their own businesses. It is only when we do this that they will start to take care of the environment around them.” ~Auldridge Chibbwalu
Auldridge is a climate change activist and youth leader based in Livingstone which is in the Southern part of Zambia. He works as an educator, organizer and advocate with 350.org, Earth Charter Youth and with the Amsha Africa Foundation as a country representative. “We are working around urgent challenges that Africa is facing such as climate change, which is not just an environmental issue but affects the development of Africa as many lives are lost due to floods, droughts and deforestation in areas like as Mosi-Oa-Tunya Reserve Park” he tells me.
He recently attended the COMESA-SADC-EAC Youth Conference on Climate Change, where 360 young people from 25 countries in Africa met to discuss and finalize a declaration on the position of African youth in the negotiations at the recent COP17 in Durban, South Africa. Essential to this declaration is youth involvement in designing, implementing and managing the programs on climate change with governments, civil societies, NGOs, and faith communities.
His work with Amsha Africa Foundation is community-based and network oriented. The Amsha Africa Foundation participates in networks like COMESA-SADC Youth Network on Climate Change, the World Bank, 350.org, Green Enviro Watch Zambia, Earth Charter US and Earth Charter Youth Groups.
As part of his work, he has helped to organize community events such as street soccer, garbage collection and tree planting. He also trains local communities on ways they can adapt their lives to reduce their carbon footprint by learning about waste management and energy conversation.
“The issues on the ground are all related to creating a livelihood. People cut trees as they need to cook and heat their homes. If we want to change this, we need to provide them with alternatives such as solar energy solutions” he explains.
However, alternative energy solutions in Zambia are still sparse on the ground despite the abundant sunshine, he tells me.
There is a need to create greater awareness for the alternatives. “We are working with local media such radio (Radio Musi-oa-Tunya Radio FM106.1, Radio Wave), newspapers (Zambia Daily Mail) and social networks such as Facebook, Earth Charter and WiserEarth.org to create a platform for our engagement, as well as partnerships with other organizations that might want to work with us,” he says.
While this may sound like much has been achieved, he sees the work as “still in its infancy stage.” He sees the following projects as critical:
- Work with the Government to implement its programs and promises on climate change.
- Get the education sector to incorporate climate change in the mainstream education system, from primary schools to tertiary education
- Educate the local rural smallholder farming communities on the impact of land mismanagement by teaching them new skills, knowledge and strategies to farm in the age of climate change
- Continue to push the media to run stories
- Support the setting up of local entreprise through micro-finance (still in its infancy in the region)
I asked him how the WiserEarth community could best support him in his work. He told me that if anyone is involved in any of the work listed above, the sharing best practices around these questions would be invaluable. He is also looking to work with other volunteers who could further help train people in sustainable farming techniques. He would also like to use more multimedia and the internet to spread knowledge about climate change, but internet usage is expensive in Zambia and connections are not always reliable. He mostly relies on a local internet café for his work. Any tools or supporting materials that might help him to communicate and build awareness more inexpensively would be invaluable.
You can find Auldridge here on WiserEarth. Please contact him if you are interested in any of his projects or can provide further support to his critical climate change work in Zambia.
We have incredible opportunities to create change around us when we come together to support and shine a light on people and organizations like Auldridge and his work with organizations like 350.org and the Amsha Africa Foundation. Join us and share your support as we campaign to help the WiserEarth network continue to grow and flourish.
Co-edited by Becky Band Jain. Becky is a nonprofit communications specialist and blogs at www.BeckyBlab.com. She spent the last five years living in India and she’s now based in New York. She’s a dedicated yoga and meditation practitioner and a member of WiserEarth. She is passionate about ICTD and new media.
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