A global conversation driving local action in Tanzania
When Maliha Sumar moved back to Dar es Salaam from London, she was stunned by the raw beauty of the Tanzanian landscape. At the same time, she was shocked by some of the ways that human life had changed it for the worse. When she swam in the ocean she saw plastic bottles instead of fish, and smoke from burning waste clouded her room at night.
Spurred by this, Maliha has started to lead others in taking climate action in Tanzania. In 2018, she founded her school’s “Zero Waste Club” and personally collected more than 20kg of plastic waste from beaches. She has also helped the Kilimanjaro Tree Project and Nipe Fagio plant more than 5,000 trees.
Creating a Tanzanian movement
With the support of the Museum for the United Nations - UN Live, Maliha now hopes to create her own national movement and spur engagement in every single city in Tanzania. Earlier this year, she gathered 50 students for a workshop with Shubila Stanton, an environmental science student (and also Tanzania’s own Miss Universe), to devise solutions for flooding in the Sinza area.
In Moshi, Maliha is working with Kijana Kwanza, a home for orphaned or impoverished children. Led by Maliha, the children have discussed their concerns for the climate and decided to create a vertical green wall at the school to learn more about gardening, organic waste, and to grow food for their chickens.
By working with local media organisations such as Elimika Wikiendi to raise awareness, people are now reaching out to her from cities all across the country.
Sparking a global conversation
For Maliha, a networked global initiative like My Mark: My City can spark a global conversation: “Ideas can complement each other across the world, so that we can work on common goals. From the sound-map project in Colombia, I learned that I have underestimated the power of sound. When I go out on my balcony now, I will try not to listen to music and instead listen to the sounds of nature.”
Looking ahead, Maliha is working on how best to engage Tanzanians with the question of sustainable cities. For her, it is about reconnecting with nature: “I think that the reason why we are in a climate crisis now is that we have forgotten how to connect with nature… We need to re-learn how to connect with nature, to love it, so that we want to preserve it.”
Imagine if we could help Maliha build a national network of 1,000 changemakers like her in Tanzania. By connecting with other nations from Colombia to India, we could help everyone share ideas, become inspired, and form strategies for how to drive people-powered change.