As part of the celebrations for International Youth Day 2023 with the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World, the EAC-GIZ programme reflects on its support to the youth in strengthening the EAC policy and strategies towards environmental and climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Through the Support to East African Integration Process Programme (SEAMPEC II), EAC-GIZ has supported youth and women-focused activities that foster their involvement and engagement in the EAC integration process in various social and economic aspects.
Great African Cyclists Safari (GACs)
The Camp Fire Guild Logs, now known as the Great African Cyclists Safari (GACs), was established in 2015 as a unique annual cyclists’ experience dubbed the “Tour d’EAC”. It promotes people-centred integration through awareness creation as the young people cycle across the EAC Partner States of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The caravan waves the EAC flag and engages EAC citizens on EAC integration; it sensitises communities and students on climate change and food security interventions as it goes along its route.
“Through our community engagements, we help promote a people-centred integration through information sharing and engaging in activities such as tree planting to conserve the environment and community and school dialogue. The public is invited to join us in these activities as we traverse through different towns across the EAC Partner States,” GACs Founder John Bosco Balongo said. Through partnerships with local environmental organizations, communities have been supported in establishing nursery beds and environmental clubs in schools. The cyclists mind the environment throughout their journey and make momentary stops to clean up litter along their route. John encourages young people everywhere to embrace green skills with an open mind. “Young people must not be afraid of learning as they do. You may not manage to leave the world better, but at least try to make it a little better than you found it.”
Great African Cyclists Safari planting trees in Nairobi.
The Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC)
In Arusha, the Pastoral Women’s Council (PWC) is another partner that EAC-GIZ has worked with to achieve gender equality and community development through the empowerment of Maasai women and girls. Stella, Programme Officer for climate change adaptation and mitigation at PWC, highlighted the role PWC has taken in sensitising the local Maasai communities on climate change mitigation practices that integrate their traditional knowledge. “Women have been trained on how to use energy efficient charcoal stoves that reduce firewood consumption. They have also been equipped with the agricultural skills that they use in setting up their kitchen gardens, tree planting exercises and selling tree seedlings as an economic activity”. In 2022, PWC partnered with EAC-GIZ to plant over 500 tree seedlings at Makuyuni Primary school, which have been catered to by the schools through continuous watering and provision of local manure. Despite these achievements, Stella noted that there is still a high demand to support communities in the arid and semi-arid areas in safeguarding their food security. “Our planet needs to be conserved if it is to be a safe place for all of us to stay and enjoy. I thank EAC-GIZ for supporting the Pastoral Women’s Council in its activities and we look forward to further collaboration as we plan to expand into other areas outside Arusha.”
Tree planting exercise at Makuyuni Primary School, Arusha, Tanzania.
The East African Youth Ambassadors Platform (EACYAP)
The East African Youth Ambassadors Platform (EACYAP), a youth engagement initiative of the East African Community (EAC) under the Political Affairs Department within the framework of the Nyerere Centre for Peace Research, was founded with the technical and financial support of the EAC-GIZ programme. The platform has continued to actively engage on various regional integration issues, including climate change adaptation and mitigation. Ms. Wairimu Manyara, a youth ambassador representing the Republic of Kenya, briefly explains the role of the youth ambassadors and how the upcoming support of the EAC-GIZ programme will contribute to shaping the climate change narrative in the region. “The EACYAP are cognizant of the importance of youth engagement in climate action. Through the support of the EAC-GIZ, we have developed an action plan on how to engage EAC youth under Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Change.”
EAC Deputy Youth Ambassador Uganda, Princess Inshuti at the Green Amayaga Project in the Southern province of Rwanda.
They have mapped out themes such as climate justice, green movement, climate education and others as areas where the youth can highlight the climate issues affecting them and offer recommendations to the EAC Secretariat. She calls upon the youth to consider acting now on the climate concerns affecting the region. “We are the future generation. However, we will have to deal with these climate issues soon and it is important that we get involved in the pertinent issues now.”
Through such support, youth are supported and provided with an enabling environment where they can capitalise on opportunities therein and become key stakeholders who influence and implement regional policies and strategies, as well as communicate the socio-economic benefits and successes of regional integration to other citizens in all EAC Partner States.
Find more information on SEAMPEC II here.
Photo: ©GACS, PWC, EACYAP