Namugerwa, who has been walking out of classes every Friday since February, has spearheaded a tree-planting campaign and a petition to enforce the country’s plastic bag ban. In her short time as a climate activist, she has met foreign ambassadors and Uganda’s speaker of parliament and attended conferences in Rwanda, Kenya, and Switzerland.
“I want to raise a generation that cares about the environment,” she says. “At least if the leaders can’t make a difference, we can make a difference. We, as kids, we’re not too young to make a positive difference.”
East Africans stand to be among the worst affected by climate change, which can impact everything from crop production to malnutrition and the spread of disease. Uganda is increasingly experiencing prolonged droughts in the north, landslides in the east, and flooding caused in part by the loss of tree cover. In one recent week, 36 Ugandans reportedly died as a result of unusually heavy rainfall.