The 74-year old Florence Nzambuli comes from Mutomo in Kitui County, a semi-arid region in Kenya, and has been in the frontline of trying to find lasting solutions to help her community to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Since 2005, Florence has helped create awareness amongst farmers in her community, encouraging them to plant and conserve trees, harvest and store water and plant drought-resistant crops. Beyond that, she wrote a climate change song that urges every human to take individual responsibility to protect the environment.
Her efforts have improved life in her community and gained her recognition. Pius Sawa travelled to Mutomo to speak with Florence about her climate change journey and her bid to protect the River Nile:
The Niles: Florence, when did you become a climate activist?
Florence Nzambuli: When I noticed climate change, I started conserving the land and planting more trees and telling the community not to destroy the land or the indigenous trees, and resume planting trees.
TN: What convinced you to take action?
FN: We used to have a rainy season. People were planting, and they were not left without harvests. But nowadays, it‘s different. I asked myself, what is wrong with the clouds? Then I heard from the media about climate change. I asked myself, what is climate change? And I learned that people should not cut the trees and should protect the land.
TN: Do you think we can all do something to mitigate the effects of climate change?
FN: We can slow climate change: I’ve asked myself, ‘to whom does it belong to’? To this, I answer: ‘It belongs to me. If it belongs to me, what am I going to do then? These are the lyrics of one of my songs. It just goes like this.
TN: So you are saying it belongs to all of us, and therefore, we all can do something to mitigate its effects?
FN: It doesn’t matter how old you are. You have to protect the land. You have to continue until the last day. There is no time you should stop unless you are sick. I will continue to plant more trees and protect the indigenous ones.
TN: The Nile stretches across many countries and therefore belongs to a lot of people. How can we protect this valuable resource?
FN: The River Nile is our main source of water because it serves so many countries. If we abuse it by polluting it, cutting the trees near the banks and misusing the water, that vital river will be destroyed.
TN: So the river needs to be protected. Who should do that?
FN: All the countries through which the Nile passes should ask themselves that question. If this is the river – the one which gives us food, gives us water - but are destroying it. Then we should ask, where are we going? What are we going to eat in future?