National clean-up campaign sees some great activities come to life

Progress Namibia - National clean-up campaign sees some great activities come to life
28 May 2018

President Hage Geingob called on all Namibians to stand together on Africa Day in turning up for a national clean-up campaign in their respective areas. Since I was in Swakopmund for the weekend, I joined a few hundred people at the Mondesa Multi-Purpose Centre where we had the Mayor open the event and read out the President's national speech for the day. Buses were lined up to take the different groups to clean areas of Swakopmund. And this was planned for every town in Namibia.

But on top of this, some groups decided to really step it up a notch by conducting some exciting activities in combination with clean-up day. The Namibian Youth Coalition on Climate Change (NYCCC) embraced the occasion by supporting the Ondangwa Town Council in their clean-up day, as well as organising and executing two information sharing workshops. During this information sharing, the youth group dealt with a broad range of issues, from waste management, environmental protection, to climate change. One of these sessions brought together ten school principles from Ondangwa together with the Inspector of Education. The information session led to the principals acknowledging the importance of building effective school environmental clubs. School environmental clubs play an important role in sensitizing and empowering students, through imparting knowledge, skills and environmental ethics required to promote sustainability among young people. It is unfortunate that under the current status quo, there is no existing active environmental clubs with those schools. As a result of the session, the principals committed in engaging learners and teachers to establish school environmental clubs that will among many things take lead in managing waste at their schools. NYCCC has committed to sign up the clubs as members once established, so they become part of the network. At the end of the session, the coalition donated 26 trees to the principals as a symbol of greening schools and towns in the name of climate change mitigation and connection to nature.

At the second information session, the NYCCC brought together the town's management committee, constituency leaders and the members of the neighbourhood watch. This session was particularly useful because it also had a strong presence of civil society. Participants gave concrete examples of worrying environmentally hazardous trends in their societies such a sand mining, overgrazing and perhaps very importantly, the excessive dumping of waste.The residents expressed their disappointment in the increasing of waste, particularly plastic bags, which are killing their livestock. They also explained the need to expand the NYCCC in the north in order to engage the majority of young people in fighting for progressive and sustainable communities. The Deputy Mayor of Ondangwa Town Council, honourable Saima Namukwambi, will engage the coalition with other youth members to form a great network on climate change in the north. The coalition also used this occasion to officially hand over 10 trees which will be planted by the town council.

The clean-up campaign itself saw a diversity of residents coming together to do the town clean-up, together with Namibians from all parts of the country. The clean-up campaign was clearly a remarkable milestone that significantly depicts a Namibian society where people take ownership in shifting their own behaviour, creating not only a Namibian nation that is clean and healthy, but doing the little we can as a Nation to create a better world.

Ultimately, there is a strong need for regular national cleaning up days in order to protect our environment and more importantly, enhance awareness and understanding around the benefits of a clean community, and the hazards of littering (particularly plastic waste). The environment is the foundation to progressive societies because society can only function in a healthy environment. If the environment collapses then society (and as a result, the economy) would never prosper. NYCCC will be working closely with the Ondangwa Town Council and business organisations to introduce initiatives aimed at reducing plastic in the town. The coalition will further embark upon helping to establish community environmental clubs in the towns across Namibia, which will strengthen its efforts in promoting sustainable communities. This to me is a great example of what can be achieved by passionate youth groups willing to be part of the change.