#UrbanBetter Disruptor Nyombi Morris is a climate justice activist from Uganda, Social media manager at Rise Up Movement and an ambassador at UNOCHA.
We asked him to tell us about his journey into climate justice activism and what motivates him.
A world where natural resources and people’s lives are respected and put above profit is the world I want. That’s why I became a climate activist.
I grew up living on a farm. Both of my parents were farmers but my dream was to become a news editor to champion humanitarian causes in my country. But growing up, I experienced, first hand, the damaging impact of climate change that resulted in my family losing our farm. Extreme and unpredictable weather with unseasonal floods resulted in several crop failures, with my parents having to sell the farm and relocating the whole family to the city (Kampala). As a result of this loss of income, I was not able to study beyond school or to achieve my childhood dream. Looking back, I now realise that, long before I got into climate activism, my family were victims of climate change.
Several years later, living in Kampala, I came across Vanessa Nakate in front of our parliament building and found out that she was striking for climate action. That was the first time I learned about climate activism. Through that encounter, I learned a lot about climate change and realised that I had already experienced the impact on my family. So I reached out to her and joined the climate action movement, striking every Friday as part of the Fridays for a future global movement. But that wasn’t enough. I needed to find one concrete action I could do to make a difference. That’s when I started advocating in schools for inclusion of climate change in the curriculum, alongside my tree planting and ecosystem restoration activities in communities.
I discovered that one of the reasons that our forests are disappearing is a lack of information on why we need trees. I came across many people who thought that the only point of planting trees is to then chop them down to sell timber as a source of wealth. Yes, I actually also believe trees are a source of wealth; not for money, but because trees are carbon sinks that can also help to prevent erosion from heavy winds and rains. Growing up with farmers, I know how important this is. So I decided to start visiting schools, one by one, spreading the gospel of trees for the planet and for health, and planting trees with school children. To get children interested in trees, I plant angiosperms, plants that produce flowers, and bear their seeds in fruits because every kid loves fruits! So I plant with them in school and offer them more to plant in their communities. I also plant Maesopsis eminii, an indigenous tree.
Another project I’m involved in is called Plastics Game Over, which is about cleaning up our mess. We visit communities that are most impacted by plastic waste and help collect them. Our mission is to stop them from blocking our drainage system and threatening our aquatic life in Lake Victoria.
What gives me hope and motivation to continue pushing is when I see my fellow youth rising up and using their voices to speak up on what world they admire and wish to see in the future. If we’re the next generation, the next leaders, then the time is now. I am truly grateful and happy that our generation doesn’t need a lot of time, weeks or sometimes even days, to adapt to any new trend. That gives me hope that our future is bright as long as we keep doing what we’re supposed to do as youth. Our voices can hold all decision-makers accountable if we use them well.
Read more about work by Morris Nyombi and other #UrbanBetter Disruptors.