Makda
Dejene

Project: Clean Ethiopia

Ms. Makda is a human rights activist; an environmental advocate; and internationally accredited young African female leader for her community based measurable impacts. She is a law graduate from Addis Ababa University Class of 2016, currently pursuing her LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of South Africa.

In 2013, Ms. Makda served on the Youth Negotiation on Climate Change Convention in the communications sector. She advocated on campus and social media; organized tree planting activities for youth; organized panel discussions on ways to reduce global warming by experts; and supported youth to better negotiate as delegates.

Ms. Makda’s enthusiasm for the environment together with her advocacy experience in social change instigated her to develop many initiatives amongst which is Clean Ethiopia. As a founding member of Clean Ethiopia, Ms. Makda has now chosen to expand this project with the Women4Climate mentorship program.

HER PROJECT

The Clean Ethiopia project has been developed to make Ethiopia clean and green by 2025. The project targets grade 5 and 6 students in Addis Ababa government schools. The goal is to address the environmental crisis by using youths as actors to cultivate the coming generation, and contribute to the Green Legacy National Project.

Activities (undertaken by three schools per year):

a) Cleaning & Painting: To inspire young boys and girls, we must first set an example by cleaning and painting the school compound ourselves. Finally, the students will pledge to keep their environment clean and green by stamping their handprint on the wall.

b)  Environmental Training: Training in preserving the environment and climate change mitigation for students in grade 5 and 6. They must transfer the knowledge to their seniors whilst moulding their juniors by becoming examples of active citizens.

c) Gardening: After tending the soil in the compound for three days so it becomes fertile, the students will plant greens and other vegetables together with the team and pledge to cultivate the vegetables on a daily basis. We will conduct follow-ups every three months.

I was a Mandela Washington Fellow in 2018. As our Mandela Legacy, we were asked to develop three pledge projects. I had the privilege to join like-minded young leaders with whom I initiated the Clean Ethiopia project as one of the pledges. The project was developed to be a one-time action – however upon the successful implementation of the project at Mekanissa Akababi Primary School in 2018 we gained the interest of many youth volunteers across Ethiopia. Thus, together with 10 of my MWF fellows, I ensured the continuity of the project by making it a movement.

MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET

In 2015, I had an epiphany to shift my two years negotiation level focus area towards a bottom-up approach after witnessing the basic environmental knowledge gap in my community. One of Fredric Douglass’s quotes always inspires me to identify target groups when developing most of my projects. He said “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults”. Thus, I dedicated my sustainable climate actions to cultivate the coming generations into active citizens that are environmentally conscious and concerned, by setting myself as an example of a clean and green Ethiopia actor on the ground.