“This story was initially published as part of the The International People’s Platform for Climate Justice project”

My name is Nyombi Morris. I’m a climate justice advocate for Fridays for Future Uganda, a non-profit organization led by Hilda Flavia Nakabuye. Our organization is now three years old. We train young people from all over the African continent about climate change and what actions they can take to make a difference where they come from.

As a person living in Africa, where the climate crisis is already a lived reality threatening our very existence, striking every Friday was not enough. After discovering that trees and forests in my country were being cut down to make quick money, which created deserts and drought, I felt forced to mobilize people in the field, start climate change conversations, and encourage tree planting in schools and communities.
Since then, I’ve planted more than 47,000 seeds for reforestation. I visited 30 schools before we went into lockdown again in July 2021. However, I realized it isn’t enough: 70% of the people I managed to engage in climate change conversations lacked knowledge about it, which made my work on the ground very difficult during the time of spreading this message in communities and schools.
I hope that if I include Climate Curriculum textbooks in our visits in 2022, it can help me identify and solve climate change-related problems. Africans still lack awareness about climate change even if our communities are the most vulnerable. Education about the climate crisis must be provided in all schools in Uganda and across the African continent.

Students participating in climate education / Photo credit: Nyombi Morris


Climate School Project

We use immersive learning strategies for our fruit tree planting sessions during school activities. Each student receives individualized instructions. Through this, I have been recognized by earth.org as an environmentalist people should follow; I am a Doha Debate #SOLVINGIT26 honoree. In addition to that, CNN International recognized me as the environmentalist tomorrow. My activism is rich with learning opportunities, including my story on how floods took over our farm back in 2009, which forced my parents to move to Kampala, where we are currently staying.
Our governments have failed to approve climate education. At the same time, not many leaders or members of the working class are willing to come out and support the Green New Deal for nature – just recovery, biodiversity protection, and resilience-building – because most of them are at the table with the exploiters whose prime concern is money and not the survival of our humanity. This needs to be a story of me and you working together to defend ourselves, the next generation, and the planet. And that’s why we want to put our Climate School project into action. It offers students, children, and other members of the community opportunities to improve their environmental management skills.

Calling for global support to make climate literacy essential / Photo credit: Nyombi Morris

In our preliminary research, we learned eight specific earth’s climate systems that we can apply, like climate mitigation, adaptation, collaboration, tree planting, and recycling of plastic wastes. The fact that most people who live in areas most impacted by the climate crisis were not educated in school about it, is the reason why this project needs support, as it will teach children and others how to take climate action. It will also help them gain skills to improve their education at higher levels like university.
Once the support is granted, our goal is to help students prepare for their professional life will be achieved. This will give them the knowledge and skills to help others, including parents. Our cause is not singular. This is critical; we must start training future leaders who understand people’s needs and make decisions that benefit the people and the planet. For example: not investing in fossil fuel subsidies, not promoting greenwashing strategies like approving biomass as a climate solution when it requires burning wood and cutting down trees leading to deforestation.
Once these learning experiences are available, students who wish to apply them in their studies will be provided with culturally conscious technology that can be applied every day to lower their carbon footprint. We are likely to reach more than 12,000-20,000 students in the selected 14 schools and the program will continue in 2023, if all goes well. We believe that activism shouldn’t only be encouraged on social media but also in schools. Out of 20,000, if we succeed in convincing 8,000 students that climate change is real and taking action is possible, it will be a huge success for the future. In addition to that, we want to show students that when you take an environmental management course to fight climate change, you can still earn a living while enjoying a sustainable life.

Photo credit: Nyombi’s personal archive

Through this project, we want to educate young people about climate change and what actions are easy to implement. Climate change will be history in Uganda and Africa once we fight ignorance. We are not vulnerable; we just lack knowledge. The target is to bring one million young people into the climate fight and increase carbon sinks to fight emissions. I promise: once we have teachers, researchers, scientists and activists in the future, no one can exploit us. The reason being young leaders will be aware of what to do. Our generation adapts so quickly, as long as we are ready to start our mobilization techniques, we can achieve this together.
The project has four sessions:

  1. School strike
  2. Tree planting
  3. Cleaning/Plastic pick up
  4. Engaging students in climate lectures, every member will be tasked to visit one class with textbooks and start teaching. Each session takes 30 minutes, and we have 2 hours in each school. 

Each month we will be visiting two schools. The reason is that some schools might take a long time to approve our requests. We are 20 people, if we include a driver and a camera operator, the total number will be 22.
We are seeking $34,368 in total funding. I need financial assistance to travel to 14 schools in order to plant and distribute 1,400 tree seedlings, 14 trash cans for littering, and 1,400 interactive lesson plans (textbooks), some of which I have already got (PDFs copies) from UNICEF. But I don’t have funds for printing and binding, each is 60,000ugx (approx. 17 USD), and each school is expected to receive 100 copies. However, some schools have a lot of students so they might need more than a hundred; the number of textbooks would have been bigger if we had someone specifically ready to print and bind those textbooks for free. Each student needs a book to revise. 
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For more info: www.nyombimorris.com
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