As COP27 is happening in Egypt for global climate talks, the Caravan of Hope-Voices from the Margins COP27 Series is also happening from 5 to 18 November in Africa, an online and in-person program to share and amplify the voices of frontline communities in areas most affected by climate-induced floods and cyclones.
These voices and stories were taken during the Heal the Earth-Caravan of Hope 2022 Tour that covered 1,800 kilometers over 12 days with 30 ARTivists (Artist, Media, and Young Climate Leaders) and raised awareness on the plight of the Chimanimani (Zimbabwe), Beria (Mozambique), and Chikwawa (Malawi) communities.
On 8 November, during the Caravan of Hope-Voices from the Margins COP27 Series, young people from Malawi made known their messages and demands to world leaders in COP27 in this Children’s Statement to World Leaders in COP27:
Greetings from Kasungu District located in the central region of Malawi, 130 kilometers from the capital city of Lilongwe. Presenting this statement are learners from Kasungu LEA Primary School, representing our fellow children from Malawi and Africa in general. Climate change is real.
Our generation is feeling it, and indeed we are experiencing it. Today we are glad that this month you, our leaders, are gathered at COP27, a first commitment and recognition of the climate crisis in the world. Leaving no one behind on climate action, we the children would like to voice out our concerns over the impacts of climate induced disasters in Southern Africa like the recent Tropical Cyclone Ana (2022) and Cyclone Idai (2019).
In Malawi, we are experiencing each year now floods, droughts, storms, cyclones, and pests and diseases due to climate change. These disasters, especially floods and cyclones, continue to intensify and thus hinder us from attaining good education and quality health care, among other basic services and rights.
Our schools get destroyed. Our classrooms, teaching and learning materials get washed away. We are left with no choice but to stop going to school for so long. Some of the schools are shut down to serve as shelter or relief camps for our parents and other flood survivors.
Not only that, disasters like floods and droughts expose us to malnutrition and starvation as our homes are washed away and our parents’ crop fields get destroyed by water. As for Kasungu district, most of the seasons our crops do not withstand the heat because of prolonged dry spells and droughts.
These climate-induced disasters increased gender inequality. We girls are greatly affected, including our sexual and reproductive health, as we do more domestic work to still support our mother in sustaining the destroyed homes. We are also put at risk of exploitation and sexual abuse as we idly stay at the camps which are unsafe places for us. We have witnessed our fellow young girls getting early pregnancies.
We, the children in Africa, need a better tomorrow. A better tomorrow for us all starts with your gathering at COP27 and making the bold commitment to act and with decisions that leave no one behind on climate justice. Less talk, more action please!
A better tomorrow starts with you putting our interests to your hearts, minding about our welfare and the welfare of the generation to come. It is clear that this climate crisis is undermining our rights as children, and indeed, the global campaign to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
As such, we the children of Africa, demand the following as you continue your discussions at COP27:
1.To develop resolutions that are responsive to our needs as children
2. To commit in providing resources for building resilient school structures
3. To recognize and support climate action initiatives that we children are making to participate in the global efforts
4. To commit in providing resources that can build resilience of the vulnerable and marginalized families where our fellow children are denied of their basic rights.
5. To support advocacy interventions that deal with injustices emanating from climate change
Our dear leaders, make decisions with our best interest. Honor your commitments in the 2030 global agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals. Choose climate justice. Choose our demands.
We thank you for coming together at COP27. Please listen to us, listen to the African children. We believe that our concerns and demands will be heard and be considered in your discussions.
Our climate future is in your resolutions. Thank you.