For 15 year-old Ashleigh Chimhenge of Townsend High School in Bulawayo, creating awareness on the effects of climate change in her community means a lot to her as she recently felt the impact of the catastrophic weather phenomenon.
Ashleigh is among the hundreds of school children from Bulawayo who participated in the Climate Walk in Bulawayo City Centre as part of the Caravan of Hope in Zimbabwe.
I am participating in the Caravan Walk because I want to create awareness on climate change. I want to tell other children and adults where they are going wrong regarding preservation of the environment and from there we can come up with solutions
says the form three pupil who wants to be a lawyer when she finishes school.
To Ashleigh, some effects of climate change in her community included recent heat wave deaths. “A woman I know from my home in Lobengula in Bulawayo died recently due to the heat wave, “ Ashleigh said, adding that, Matabeleland Provinces among other provinces in Zimbabwe, have in recent years been experiencing poor rains resulting in droughts and she attributed this to the negative effects of climate change.
Zimbabwe has, since the end of October, experienced very high temperatures topping 40 degrees Celsius which has resulted in untold suffering for human beings, drying up of water sources and the deaths of around 77 elephants. According to weather experts, Zimbabwe last experienced such high temperatures around 1962.
More than 20 people are said to have died of the heat related diseases since October 2011. More than one million people in Zimbabwe will not be able to meet their food needs between now and March according to the World Food Programme (WFP). WFP says that some families are already skipping meals and reducing portions. Although in recent years there has been an improvement in the food security situation, food production has been poor in the southern and western regions of the country which are prone to dry spells.
Ashleigh attributes climate change to the burning of fossil fuels, the emission of gases from vehicles and factories and the cutting down of trees.