2 Malawian school students who addressed the London Climate March, on the Crisis in Malawi

At the climate strike march in London on Friday I heard two Malawian high school students describing the critical situation back in their country. Later on I bumped into them at the Oxfam office (turns out we had invited them) and they kindly agreed to speak for a few minutes, even though they looked pretty tired. Here’s what they said:

Jessy Nkhoma: In Malawi, because of climate change, we are experiencing change in rain patterns. Normally we expect rain to come in November, but nowadays we expect rains to come only in January. And sometimes there is little rainfall, sometimes really high amounts, leading to floods, washing away people’s houses and properties.

Isaac Mzembe: Because of climate change we are experiencing a lot of negative impacts, especially drought – leading to hunger and child malnutrition.

Jessy: And the flooding brings mud, which affects our hydro electricity generators, so we get blackouts, sometimes for a full day.

Isaac: There is a big increase in temperatures, which creates favourable conditions for the breeding of mosquitoes, and malaria. So the government is having to spend a lot of money on medicines instead of funding development projects.

Jessy: What was it like speaking to the big march? I felt very glad – it was my first time to speak publicly, to 50,000 people. I like it! – I want to do it again!

Isaac: I want to speak to people and politics, because I think these are the people who can help our country to adapt to the changes that are happening because of climate change.

Jessy: Me too – I want to talk to politicians so we can take action right now to end this impact of climate change.

Hope for the future

Isaac: I also think – this is my message to people in Europe – that they should reduce their emissions of carbon dioxide because they gases are contributing to global warming.

Jessy: And me, I’m calling on well wishers to fund us so we can adapt to climate effects.

Like a lot of the adults on the march, Jessy, Isaac and the thousands of other teenagers, both brought home the urgency of the climate crisis, and gave us hope for the future. Many, many thanks.

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2 Responses to “2 Malawian school students who addressed the London Climate March, on the Crisis in Malawi”
  1. Pete

    I also found the youth lead climate strikes inspiring, the event in Oxford was huge and full of enthusiasm. The world needs to focus on reducing carbon dioxide emissions with far more urgency.

    BUT… I am not sure this is enough for those in Malawi. I suspect their problems are also regional as the forest cover has been significantly reduced in Malawi, Mozambique and other countries in the region. I have only flown there once and I was shocked at the scarcity of trees. The land gets much hotter without tree cover and this will effect their weather.

    Additionally, continental tropical rainfall relies on evaporation from trees/land nearer the coast, essentially the water brought in from the sea falls in the first few hundred kilometres, if it falls on a forest there is very little run off and most of the water is taken up by vegetation from where it evaporates, leading to the formation of more clouds that take it further inland. If there is less tree cover, more of the water will head back to the sea in rivers (and floods), taking away the water that used to get transported further inland. (George Monbiot describes this well – but I’ve lost the link)

    CO2 driven climate change has hardly hit us yet – we need to change urgently to stop emitting CO2 (and all the other factors), but we/they also need to restore forests in Malawi and Mozambique if they hope to return to traditional weather patterns. Such tree cover will also absorb CO2 from the air. (I’ve not done the power analysis on how!)

    NB I’m not a climate expert and certainly not an expert on weather patterns affecting Malawi.

  2. Remember Wangari Maathai? Her Revolutionary Greenbelt movement….? Our countries in Africa need radical and revolutionary solutions to play their part in the fight against climate change. Right now in Malawi, the government is not leading by example and very little is being done. In fact it is not a priority to anyone… to the point there are even regressive actions (e.g. import duty exemptions on cars with 3.0 litre + engine capacity) brought along with little thought as to their impact. And unfortunately the floods, drought and poor soil quality will continue, because Malawi’s leaders are simply neither serious nor dedicated enough to the cause.