Posted December 4, 2015 at COP21
This month, I am truly honored to feature a young man from Kenya who is inspiring passionate action to save his home and community from the impacts of climate change and the threats of the fossil fuel industry.
I am Emmanuel Ekai Nabenyo, born and brought up in Turkana County in Northern Kenya. The Turkana are a pastoralist community whose way of life revolves around land and animals. After undertaking my primary and secondary school education in my community, I joined University of Nairobi in the year 2011 to study for my law degree. As a young man and having interacted with the challenges that rural communities in the most poverty-stricken parts of the world undergo, I dedicated my life to advocating for the rights of the pastoralist community in the drought-stricken Turkana County which is rated the poorest and driest county in Kenya.
Inspired by a vision of a society where youth have a powerful voice, knowledge, and resources to use that voice to create positive change in their communities, I formed a community based organization when I was 19 and in my first year in campus so as to use it to empower the youth in my community and to do climate change advocacy and environmental conservation in the face of oil and gas exploration.
At age 23, I am already a distinguished youth leader in my community of Turkana, a sprawling rural community grappling with realities of climate change that have adversely affected its way of life and livelihoods. In 2014, I was named a 2014 Spark Change Makers by Australia-based Spark International because of the exemplary community empowerment and development work that I do back in my community and that has seen our organization grow from strength to strength and impacting more lives. One of the major community engagements that our group has been able to carry out in my community is putting up a USD $84,000 primary school project in my community in a school that had been using semi-permanent structures as classrooms in partnership with a Kenyan charity called Safaricom Foundation. We have also managed to challenge investors in our community to respect our community land and pastoral way of life because they are destroying our environment and community land.
I am currently representing my group in the United Nations Climate Summit that is currently happening in Paris as well as in the Conference of Youth that happened three days before the UN Conference.