An Hour of Dark

Written By: The Lowdown - Mar• 31•13

2013 03 small coverIt’s that time of the year again when citizens of the world are asked to spend one hour showing their support for climate change action, by turning off their lights.


We all depend on energy, be it for cooking our food, charging our phones, running our computers or getting our morning cup of tea. Without energy, our lives as they are today would change radically and many of the things we take for granted today would become a schlep and a real challenge.


Compared with our brothers and sisters in the western world, our energy usage in Zambia (and Africa) is relatively small. On a domestic level, we don’t, generally, have all the mod cons such as dishwashers and many people dry their washing in the sunshine rather than in a tumble drier. On a city level, the lack of streetlights is an enormous energy saver as are our warm winters. But that does not mean we should not get involved.  For example, in Uganda, the world’s first Earth Hour Forest was allocated 2,700 hectares of land, challenging Ugandans to fill it with 500,000 trees to fight against the 6000 hectares of deforestation that occurs in the country every month. Standard Chartered Bank (250,000 trees), the Ugandan Minister of Water Environment (1,000 trees) and many individuals have taken on the challenge.  In Botswana, Earth Hour Botswana coordinators Wena Environmental Education and News Trust, recently launched a project called ‘One Million Trees – Plant For Life’ as part of Eath Hour’s ‘I Will If You Will’ campaign. The project will rehabilitate degraded lands through the planting of more than one million trees over four years in Botswana.


Back home, WWF organised Earth Hour in Zambia and first officially took part in 2009. In 2010, WWF Zambia organised a march past which was attended by Zambia’s first president Dr. Kenneth Kaunda. A march past is hardly inspiring but they did a little better in 2011 when WWF Zambia partnered with Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO), Lafarge, Hotel Inter-continental, Pamodzi Hotel, Golden Bridge Hotel, Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) and Radio Phoenix who donated free airtime to publicize Earth Hour. ZESCO’s ‘Switch Off and Save’ campaign educated the public on the need to conserve power to be more environmentally sustainable. In 2011 the three cities of Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola switched off. Did we ever switch on, I ask? But I am the eternal optimist and hope that this year will see something better, something with a bit of pizzazz and flamboyance; something that will really drive the message home.


What are your ideas?  Post them on and let’s see if we can get this party going! For our part, and just as a start, we are going to ask Zesco to send SMS’s to their clients reminding them of Earth Hour and asking them to participate by turning the lights off.


And in the meantime, don’t forget to switch off on Saturday 23 March at 8.30 pm for one hour.  Let’s all do our bit to help the planet!

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