By Kudra Maliro
As world leaders struggle to find consensus on strategies to deal with global warming, ordinary people across the globe have been left to fight their own battles against this existential threat every day.
From Morocco to South Africa, and Kenya to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a handful of young, pragmatic and tireless climate soldiers aged between 20 and 26 are doing remarkable work within the continent to save their communities from what is clearly a disaster looming over the planet.
Organised into small groups, their mission remains the same: to heal the planet. TRT Afrika profiles some of Africa's valiant soldiers of nature.
Guillaume Kalonji from the DRC
This 25-year-old Congolese from the town of Bukavu in the southeast of the country founded his "Rise up Congo" movement in February 2022 after being inspired by activists such as Vanessa Nakate from Uganda.
"We have raised awareness about environment-friendly practices among more than 1,500 students in Kinshasa and Bukavu,'' Kalonji tells TRT Afrika.
''We have contributed to the fight against deforestation in the Congo Basin by running online campaigns with the support of internationals and Greenpeace," he adds.
Kalonji and his group have been campaigning to reduce the pressure on forests, primarily indiscriminate felling for production of charcoal.
To minimise this practice, they have created ecological fireplaces and ceramic braziers that require little wood. They also planted hundreds of trees in schools across Bukavu during the Global Climate Strike in 2022.
The group is currently mobilising opinion against the "27BP3BG project", an oil exploitation attempt that according to them, poses a real threat to the Congo Basin, the planet's second green lung.
Aqlila Alwy from Kenya
She has become one of the more prominent climate activists in her home region of Malindi, in southeast Kenya.
At 21, she already heads an initiative called the Blue Earth organisation, which works to restore mangroves in the Makupe conservation area.
Aqlila's mission began in July 2021, triggered by her personal experience of the devastation wrought on her hometown of Malindi by the 2015 floods. Experts blame rampant deforestation for this disaster.
"The plants required for the mangrove restoration programme are provided by the local population, which augments their income. This has inspired hundreds of young people to take action and raise awareness about the importance of mangroves in the fight against climate change," says Aqlila.
She regularly visits her former high school to raise awareness among girls about climate change and gender equality, how these affect their education and the community, and the power they have to make a difference.
"I am very pleased with the progress I have made in Malindi. I have noticed that the girls are more than interested in climate-change issues, and we are gradually normalising a subject that used to be considered a punishment from God," says Aqlila.
The one thing she constantly fears is that the people of Malindi will suffer another wave of drought, which would cause a food crisis and decimate their livestock. "It is for these reasons that I continue to do what I do," Aqlila tells TRT Afrika.
Regina Magoke from Tanzania
At the age of 21, this young Tanzanian activist is already seen as a community leader in the battle against global warming. Her non-profit organisation Green Sphere works to preserve the environment by cleaning up the beaches of Mwanza, a town on the edge of Lake Victoria.
"I work with a team of over 15 people aged between 14 and 35 years old, both men and women," says Regina.
Green Sphere has been planting trees and teaching environmental modules in various schools in Regina's hometown. The organisation has also launched climate action plans aimed at preserving the ecosystem for future generations.
"Our team is currently on an outreach through its social media handles and other audiovisual platforms such as television, radio and newspapers," she says.
While Green Sphere has been able to make a difference, challenges remain. Regina and her fellow members often run into hurdles too high to surmount, at least for now.
The more frustrating ones are financial difficulties that often force them to scale back their ambitions.
Mohamed El-hajji from Morocco
A researcher at Sidi Mohamed Ben Abd Allah University in Fez, 21-year-old Mohamed El-hajji is counted among the most high-profile young Moroccan and North African leaders, and a pioneer in the fight for climate justice.
El-hajji has succeeded in mobilising many young people in his region to take up the climate cause.
As an extension of the lectures he gives in the classroom, he founded the FridaysForFuture branch in Morocco in 2020.
"I created an eco-club, a dynamic community of passionate individuals dedicated to raising climate awareness and promoting sustainable development activities," he tells TRT Afrika.
El-hajji had spent his entire childhood in a rural area in northern Morocco, where he witnessed the effects of climate change, including a sharp fall in local agricultural yields over the years due to drought across the region.
The people of his village depend mainly on agriculture, particularly olives and wheat. With the drop in rainfall, the fields are now almost bare, and the people are suffering, he laments.
"I also realised that many students have left our campus because of air pollution and the noxious stench from the industrial estate at night. That's what pushed me to start the fight for climate justice."
Tafadzwa Kurotwi from Zimbabwe
This 23-year-old is the co-founder of Emerald Climate Hub, a volunteer organisation that fights against global warming.
Tafadzwa and her colleagues are working to find sustainable solutions to climate change through innovation and technology. Their organisation also promotes equal opportunities for young people and women.
Tafadzwa's journey in climate activism started as a youth delegate for the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) at COP27 in Egypt.
"I have since inspired some 600 students in Zimbabwe to continuously develop solutions to solve environmental problems, and advocate climate action and justice," she tells TRT Afrika.
"We have also managed to plant over 300 trees in our community. Our group has managed to mobilise 10 environmental clubs from different schools to become guardians of the environment by promoting climate education and the inclusion of young people and women."
Tafadzwa's fight for environment protection and promotion of sustainable development was recognised at The African Mirror Awards, a prize for humanitarian services.
She has consistently used the local and international media to defend and lend her voice to communities most affected by the climate crisis. Her larger objective, she explains, is to raise collective awareness and encourage the adoption of strong and appropriate measures in Africa.
Yosimbom Yania from Cameroon
At 18, she heads Youth Empowerment Cameroon, an organisation comprising more than 80 activists fighting against global warming in five regions of the African nation.
"One of the things I am most proud of is the positive impact I have had on the mindset of young people in my community when it comes to fighting climate change. I am not only engaging these young people physically, but also morally about climate change and personal development," Yosimbom tells TRT Afrika.
Youth Empowerment Cameroon was founded in May 2023 to "help heal our planet and make it a better place for future generations".
"We have planted fruit and ecological trees in schools. It's one of our biggest projects to date, and has received a lot of positive feedback from teachers and pupils alike," says Yosimbom.
Mariem Jradi from Tunisia
A 24-year-old climate activist, Mariem's foray into environmental action started in 2016 with the Stop Pollution movement in Gabès, which fights against the pollution caused by the chemical industry in the region.
Mariem conceived the idea of setting up this organisation, which currently has over 57 members, after discovering, along with five of her friends, the impact of climate change in the Gabes region of Tunisia as a result of industrialisation.
"The main focus of our actions is to raise awareness among as many people as possible about climate change and water scarcity in Tunisia. We have also launched online campaigns to encourage people to stop using plastic," Mariem tells TRT Afrika.
The Stop Pollution movement has already collaborated in participatory research on climate change and water shortage with UNICEF and the RET association.