Sakina, the teenage climate change activist driving change in Pakistan

30 November 2023 by

Sakina is 13 years old and lives in the town of Abdul Sattar, in Pakistan’s Sindh province. After a drought left her town devastated, Sakina decided to take action to protect her environment and began starting campaigns in her community to bring about meaningful environmental change.

Sakina is one of the girls supported by the GEC Closing the Gap project, led by ACTED in Pakistan. This project helped girls improve their lives through education, focusing non-formal education to address the physical, qualitative, sociocultural and systemic barriers to children's access to education.

Abdul Sattar, like many villages in the area, faces serious climate-related challenges. These include extreme weather events, shifting weather patterns and rising temperatures. The community relies heavily on agriculture, making it particularly vulnerable. During her first year at the learning centre near her home, Sakina experienced an unusually severe drought in her community that decimated local farms.

Seeing impact on her community Sakina realised the urgency of addressing climate change and her passion was ignited. She started asking her teacher, Shahbano, a lot of questions on climate change. And Shahbano brought this to the attention of the Education Technical Unit at ACTED.

ACTED’s education experts came together to design several activities to help people and communities learn about the climate change across the globe, especially in Pakistan. The activities included awareness of the causes of climate change, preventive measures and activities that community members could carry out. Through these activities, Sakina learned about the causes, consequences, and potential solutions to climate change. Her teachers and mentors encouraged her to pursue her interests further.

This education invigorated her to do more in her community. Sakina actively engaged her community by organising climate change awareness programmes, inspiring her peers to join the cause. She started green projects like recycling and a community garden in Abdul Sattar village. Her efforts led to increased environmental consciousness, cleaner surroundings, less consumption of plastic bags and valuable advocacy skills among learners, fostering positive change.

Sakina's story proves the power of a young learner's passion and determination in addressing climate change. It highlights the need for climate change education in marginalised areas, and the power of a young girl’s mind. Sakina is a beacon for a new generation of learners. As she continues her journey, she plans to pursue a degree in environmental science and expand her impact beyond her village. She envisions a world where young learners like her play a pivotal role in combatting climate change.