Children as future climate ambassadors in Uganda

Published 17 October 2018 in:

The Swedish Embassy in Kampala has highlighted the climate issue among young people in Uganda. Today, its message is reaching tens of thousands of children every week through the comic strip about Green Gloria, a young superhero who fights environmental threats in the form of various monsters. It is published in Uganda’s biggest newspaper, New Vision.

Through a partnership with Uganda’s biggest daily newspaper, New Vision, and its supplement for children and young people, Toto Magazine, the comic strip has been published every Wednesday since October 2017. The comic strip has had significant impact and reaches some 33 000 readers and 8 000 schools, where it is also used for educational purposes.

Green Gloria was cartoonist Benjamin Buhamizo’s contribution to the ‘Facing the Climate’ exhibition, which the Embassy arranged in partnership with the Swedish Institute in 2017. The exhibition was based on a competition for Swedish and Ugandan illustrators to highlight major climate change in Uganda. Ten people participated and Benjamin Buhamizo won with Green Gloria.

Andrew Byaruhanga handles communications at the Embassy and has worked on the initiative since the beginning.

“If we are to tackle global change from a holistic perspective, it is important to start with children. They have the opportunity to pursue these issues in the future,” he says.

The newspaper New Vision attended the ‘Facing the Climate’ exhibition and was very interested in Buhamizo’s contribution. Toto Magazine, the newspaper’s supplement for children and young people, had cooperated with Buhamizo previously and became interested in publishing Green Gloria. The comic strip had a huge impact and has therefore continued to be published every week.

To keep the comic strip up-to-date and relevant, the Embassy raises current events and climate threats. The comic strip is shared on social media to reach as many people as possible.

One reason for its success is that Green Gloria is easily accessible to children in Uganda, partly because of its publication in New Vision, but also because children from the age of three can understand and take on board its content.

“Ugandans can identify with the language used in the comic strip. We mix in some native words with English, which works very well,” explains Andrew Byaruhanga.

The Embassy in Kampala works actively to prioritise the climate issue in political dialogue, development cooperation and the promotion of Sweden. Locally in Uganda, Sweden is seen as a credible and knowledgeable actor in environmental and climate issues, which according to the Embassy is the result of prioritising strategic communications.

“I believe that Green Gloria can serve as an example for other embassies if they want to work with the daily press. It is a matter of encouraging ideas from various spheres to be able to interact with different target groups,” says Byaruhanga.