Discovering nature: Creating nature awareness in Ethiopian youth
With the increase of world population and the need to feed, house, clothe, and fulfill energy needs of nations, our world has progressively become more inhospitable. The world’s populations are dependent on limited natural resources for their everyday lives, and it is becoming evident that the capacity of the globe’s resources to sustain unlimited growth is reaching its threshold or has surpassed it. The consequences to human beings are also fatal. For example, human life styles characterized by unnatural eating habits are affecting the health of millions. We nowadays hear of increased incidence of cancer and heart and kidney failures as never before, not to talk of obesity, diabetes, and stroke victims. Biodiversity is also on the brink of greater loss than ever, bringing with it the demise of species, ecosystems, and the services we used to get for free. Loss of cultural biodiversity and indigenous knowledge is another issue correlated to development options that do not take into consideration the rights of indigenous populations.
Ethiopia for the last decade and a half has geared up for scaled-up economic development, but most of it seems to be at the expense of nature. While it is plausible that these development options are aimed at boosting the agriculture and energy sector for the progress of the nation, measures are largely unsustainable. Unsustainable measures are costly when it is appreciated that a huge proportion of the Ethiopian population is agrarian, poor, and young. Even though Ethiopia’s population now stands at over 100,000,000, 47% or more of it is aged 0-14. This huge proportion of the population that is young is expected to lead the nation’s social, economic, and political life with little or no awareness of the need to conserve nature and the consequences of loss of the natural environment. This shows that there is a need to work with youth on awareness of nature conservation. It is imperative to consider that awareness is a process that takes the current situation in a given area, level of present awareness on a given topic, age group, and openness of participants into account. The end product of awareness should always be change of behavior in a population. A change of behavior that supports positive environmental protection and nature conservation is what we need if future generations in this country are to see what the present has seen and experienced. We want our children to live in a healthy environment where they can breathe clean air, drink unpolluted water, and enjoy intact ecosystems with its complimentary biodiversity.
Objectives of the project
- Instill a sense of nature awareness in Ethiopian youth through exposure to and discovery of nature around their immediate surroundings
- Encourage youth to write, draw, and present about their experiences at a personal and group level
- Conduct a TOT (Training of Trainers) for instructors from the Lammergeier Bird Lovers Club in methods of awareness-raising in youth
The best method to instill love for nature in young people is to get them out in the fields, woods, and streams, so that they can get a firsthand experience of nature on their own. It is during this immersion that youths can appreciate nature by discovering its wonders. While some guidance is always important, it can act as an obstacle if there is too much of it. The method we would like to use is known as “nature journaling”. In this method children and youth will be given time to rediscover what nature is for them by drawing and writing what they experience in nature. They will be encouraged to keep these journals and use them as often as possible. Birds are usually everywhere, and the fact that they have an appeal for young and old alike will be used as a lever to reach out to youth. At least one lecture will be given on the value and identification of birds to the youth. The rest of the time will be used to take them out to a nearby area where they can have firsthand experience with birds and other nature.
- Selected youths (15-20) from local schools (nature clubs) in Gondar are provided with awareness on birds and nature.
- Selected youths from local schools (nature clubs) in Gondar receive guidance on constructing and maintaining a personal nature journal.
- At least 10 members of the Lammergeier Bird Lovers Club receive training in “Awareness Creation”.
- If you are interested, e-mail us to request more specific information about this project and to be kept up to date as we finalize exact project dates, logistics, and the myriad of other practicalities that go into a project of this nature.