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.
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.