Yemeni Youth help prevent climate change for a sustainable world
September 20, 2022
Waste accumulation has long been a global problem. In Yemen – which is witnessing a breakdown of basic services and considered one of the world’s worst catastrophes – this is a major problem that threatens the well-being of millions.
In a country where only 50 per cent of the health care system is fully functional, waste accumulation has led to diseases such as cholera, malaria, and dengue fever. This is particularly the case in poor neighborhoods that lack health facilities, basic services, and are vulnerable to these diseases due to lack of adequate nutrition.
Seeing the need in here community, Ethar Farea, a 23 year old Yemeni woman from Aden, developed a creative idea to turn organic waste into organic fertilizer for agricultural land. This reduces the accumulated waste in cities, as well as air pollution cause from burning the waste as a removal practice, which adversely affects both the environment and community.
Ethar’s Source of Motivation
Burning waste causes catastrophic consequences for both the local population and the environment, causing diseases and increased amounts of gases polluting the environment and air.
"I developed my idea by wanting to make a positive change in my community – working toward solutions for toxic gases caused by burning waste and waste seeping into groundwater, which both cause greater disasters," says Ethar. “I believed that this is what people really need,” she indicates.
The Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Yemen encouraged Ethar to develop her project and to share it with colleagues. "The change I want to make is to set up projects that are not only profit-based but that also make a positive change," says Ethar.
In Yemen, engaging youth in community development is minimum. Given the ongoing war in the country, programmes that support achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are almost absent.
Ethar believes that the Youth Leadership Programme trained and enabled her to meet other trainees with different ideas. She wishes to establish more similar training programmes for youth.
"Having such programmes is a glimmer of hope and an opportunity for youth for the desired change," says Ethar.
Because of her environmental work, Ethar was invited to inspire other youth through her participation in the 2022 Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum. As a young entrepreneur working to tackle environmental issues, Ethar’s project collects and sorts waste in coordination with Yemen’s Cleaning Funds Corporations to turn it into organic fertilizer for agricultural land by using thermal decomposition of waste and kind of earthworms that perform the waste analysis process.
Ethar is also keen to see other women involved in these types of projects and leading Yemen’s innovation. “Yemeni women will prove to be great innovators, entrepreneurs, influencers, and change makers if empowered and provided with awareness and skills, which will lead to more environment-friendly projects led by women,” concludes Ethar.
A Journey to a Sustainable World Starts with Climate Change Awareness
Climate change is a crucial problem that impacts us all, regardless of geographic location and socio-economic status. Looking at how the problem is being addressed globally, the best method to help curb climate change is to ensure youth and children are aware of the dire situation.
Eshraq Al-swoidi, 24 years old, is also a member of the Youth Leadership Programme Alumni. Eshraq created an initiative targeting children and school students to help increase their awareness of climate change by organizing activities that help educate about the dangers of climate change.
"Children and youth are important drivers for change," says Eshraq. "Providing them with an entertaining, yet educational, method to increase climate change awareness will lead them to help play their part in mitigating climate change,” she says. “By helping them develop an understanding of the importance of the issue now, as adults they be sure to act responsibly and help take action."
Eshraq’s project aims to raise the awareness around climate change by creating student activities such as planting trees and creating activity-based games and animations about the importance of afforestationand its role in reducing the dangers of climate change.
When asked about the necessary steps for Yemenis to play their part in climate change mitigation, Eshraq said: "Conviction is the most important step toward achieving anything. Climate change education provided by my initiative will hopefully instill children and youth with the conviction needed to make decisions to help mitigate climate change, and may be used to inspire them to take an active part in solving the problem as they grow older."
Eshraq thinks that climate change awareness has significantly improved in the Yemeni population over the past few years but says there is still a lot to be done to make Yemen an active participant in the effort to stop climate change. "Younger people are taking the issue more seriously," Eshraq concludes. "Maybe with enough education and awareness they can inspire change in their peers and families,” she adds.
Eshraq believes that this Youth Leadership Programme was the turning point in her life where she was exposed to the idea of climate change, and where she became more aware of the social innovation importance for the community positive change. She continues to learn from the YLP network and exchange experience with other youth. “YLP was my first window to share and amplify my interest to the climate change and I considered myself lucky that I was involved,” she says.
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