Can you tell us what you are working on at the moment?
I’m working on the Vash Green Schools Project, which I started in 2019, to install solar panels and clean cooking stoves in Ugandan schools. So far, we’ve done 39 installations, impacting about 13,000 children. Tomorrow we start another phase of installation in six schools in Kayunga. And I’m working on various online campaigns with other activists.
When did you start to realise the impact climate change was having on where you grew up in Kampala?
In 2018 I had been researching some of the challenges that people in Uganda were facing, and learnt a lot about climate change and how its impacts were already unfolding. In some parts of Uganda, for example in the east, there has been disastrous flooding and landslides linked to climate change, causing destruction and the loss of lives for many people. These disasters affect the basic necessities of life – food, access to water, access to health facilities and shelter.
Uganda also relies heavily on agriculture. Climate change is bringing unpredictable weather patterns for farmers in the rural areas. Food insecurity pushes more people into extreme poverty, leading children to drop out of school. Learning this made me decide to join the climate movement.
For others who want to make their voices heard, tell us about your journey from that small protest to becoming an activist with global reach.
I was a terribly shy person. I only found the strength and courage to make a sign and stand on the street in 2019. My siblings and cousins joined me. I held my ground, and every Friday I went back and continued to do it and do it. It’s about doing whatever you can, realising that no voice is too small to make a difference, and no actions are too small to transform the world.
It’s hard to put into words what it has been like, standing in front of so many people. There is a certain strength and a certain confidence I get when I’m talking about the realities of the climate crisis and what needs to be done. I won’t say that it’s been easy, but I built confidence with every audience I spoke to.
What are some of the actions you would like to see to help mitigate against the problems caused by a warming climate in Uganda and the wider region?
The conclusions of the most recent IPCC report were nothing new: it told us we need to reduce emissions, now. Every fraction of a degree matters to people on the front lines and they need help already.