Where Roots & Shoots Began – Where It’s Going: Africa Programs
Roots & Shoots started in Tanzania in 1991, when a group of high school students expressed their dismay at how many challenges they saw in their communities. They felt as though their future had been stolen. Dr. Jane Goodall empowered these young people to take action, and, for nearly 30 years, Roots & Shoots has grown across the Jane Goodall Institute’s Africa Program country sites to more than 60 countries worldwide. In our Africa Program countries, it has profoundly shaped trusted relationships and created generations of community leaders who have grown up with Roots & Shoots values and skills. Today, the program has more than 3,100 groups in African countries, with thousands of youth participants now a part of the Roots & Shoots movement across the continent.
Roots & Shoots Across Africa
In 2019, Roots & Shoots African program coordinators met in Kigali, Rwanda, with 16 participants from nine African countries — Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Mali, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda — as well as two JGI Global representatives. This meeting was a unique opportunity for Roots & Shoots coordinators from across Africa to share and learn from each other while receiving professional development training. During the workshop, participants presented their country’s Roots & Shoots activities and learned more about the global Roots & Shoots program, along with the tools and resources available to them. As a direct result of this meeting, the Roots & Shoots coordinators set up a communication platform through WhatsApp to share ongoing information on projects, campaigns, and successes throughout the year.
Roots & Shoots groups implementing activities that promote respect for chimpanzees and their habitats
girls reached through JGI interventions, completing primary and secondary school in targeted communities
Roots & Shoots groups worldwide
countries participating in Roots & Shoots globally
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
In Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), youths celebrated World Chimpanzee Day on July 14, 2019, through an environmental design contest. In Kisangani, Lubutu, and Walikale, Roots & Shoots youths shared traditional dances, environmentally themed theater shows, and environment-related poetry to celebrate our closest living relatives. This region, the northern corridor of the Great Apes Conservation Action Plan in Eastern DRC, is an important one for community-led conservation work, a central aspect of which is education and youth empowerment. Through these activities, young people not only further develop essential skills and build connections but also increase their understanding of, as well as their investment in, the natural world. These are the memories and learnings that young people in DRC will carry with them into their daily lives and eventually adulthood, shaping a harmonious relationship between humans and wildlife.
Tanzania is the birthplace of Roots & Shoots. Since the creation of the very first club in 1991, the reach of the program has spread from Lake Tanganyika in the west across the entire country to the coast of Dar es Salaam. Through projects like JGI’s USAID-funded Landscape Conservation in Western Tanzania (LCWT) initiative as well as innovative youth engagement via scholarships and events in cities across the country, Tanzania has always been and will continue to be an integral part of the global Roots & Shoots movement.
In 2019, LCWT kicked off its second year of the project’s five-year goal, focused on protecting endangered chimpanzee populations and safeguarding their habitat through effective land-use planning and empowerment of local communities. 2019 focused on working to increase awareness of conservation issues by effectively engaging thousands of young people across Western Tanzania. Roots & Shoots clubs play an integral role in making this vision a reality.
For the Roots & Shoots anniversary celebration in February 2019, the JGI team targeted six regions for events and activities — Dar es Salaam, Geita, Kigoma, Pemba, Ruvuma, and Unguja (in Zanzibar). Activities included tree planting, beach and river cleanups, interactive workshops, volunteer work in community forest centers, and gatherings at Pugu Nature Center, run by JGI. Work in Tanzania also included youth scholarships in Zanzibar and the continued development of Pugu Nature Center, a critical educational nature facility serving thousands of young people in Dar es Salaam as well as from cities around the country.
In 2019, the Roots & Shoots World Environmental Day (June 5) event was one of the largest and most successful yet. To celebrate the event, 804 students gathered to raise awareness and celebrate by engaging in environment-focused activities that included screenings of conservation films, community cleanup projects, theater performances, and dances. World Environment Day messages were also conveyed in community meetings as well as through live radio coverage, print, television, and social media platforms like YouTube.
REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
In Republic of the Congo (RoC), JGI’s education team continues to implement the Roots & Shoots program in strategic villages throughout Tchimpounga Nature Reserve, Conkuati Douli National Park, and Dimonika Biosphere Reserve. In each of these areas, the education team identified teachers who could participate in the program and invited them to a workshop where they were trained in how to apply conservation messages to the existing curriculum. Three schools, located in areas where poaching is a major threat, were selected to participate in this new program. Much of their activities focused on connecting young people with nature and reinforcing the notion that humans and the natural world are reliant upon one another for their well-being and continued survival.
In 2019, Roots & Shoots members across these seven strategic villages were taken on guided forest walks to discover the importance of wildlife while singing songs with an ecological message. They cleaned schools, learned the importance of recycling, planted a banana orchard, and were informed about Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center, increased ecological and conservation competencies, and the importance of biodiversity. Additionally, JGI RoC provided a summer school course in Boueti, a village near the Tchimpounga Center. This course was conducted from August 9 to August 28 and included classes focused on topics that covered culture, language, and science. The subject of the first class was African wildlife and how participants could help with conservation, encouraging young participants to sculpt animals they care about out of clay. Other classes covered geography, landscapes, careers, and additional ways for participants to contextualize their young relationships with local environments and the rest of the world. In 2020, this program will continue to expand its reach to thousands of young people in the area.
Along with these overarching youth activities, Roots & Shoots in RoC celebrated Biodiversity Day in 2019. The education team shared information about JGI’s work with an attendance of nearly 2,000 students and found that approximately 80% of the students had an awareness of their daily responsibilities towards biodiversity while more than 50% of the students were aware of the importance of biodiversity and primates. These excellent indications of young passion for the environment are affirmations of the success in RoC, particularly with programs like SuperKodo. Created by JGI RoC, SuperKodo is a television program aimed at young people with environmental themes. The program has had huge success reaching millions in RoC as well as other countries in Africa.
In 2019, the Roots & Shoots program in Uganda took a unique approach, working with five Canadian interns through the International Aboriginal Youth Initiative (IAYI) in two schools – Lyantonde Secondary School in Lyantonde District and St. Kaggwa Primary School in Bushenyi District. IAYI offers indigenous Canadian youth the opportunity to gain professional experience abroad in the field of international development. It helps them acquire essential skills while contributing to reducing poverty and helping to advance the work of their host organization. In Uganda, the interns benefited from experiential learning by immersing themselves in ongoing country programs and activities. This was a mutually eye-opening experience as the interns were able to innovate and introduce new ideas by sharing their cultural arts and sports with the local Roots & Shoots groups.
After returning to Canada, one IAYI participant, Anjela Hare, hosted a fundraiser to support girls in Uganda, especially in Bushenyi District, where she spent time. Before leaving the country, the team donated materials, including books, erasers, pens, and pencils, in support of the school children in St. Kaggwa Primary School. Based on the success of the first IAYI placement, the Canadian government plans to deploy more than double last year’s number of interns in 2020, adding the districts of Hoima and Masindi.
GET INVOLVED WITH ROOTS & SHOOTS
Since 1991, young people in Roots & Shoots have been leading the charge in creating innovative solutions to the major issues in their communities.
From unsustainable palm oil to the climate crisis and social injustice, change-makers in Roots & Shoots have created thousands of projects and represent hundreds of thousands of individuals all around the world delivering on a vision of a better world for all.
What started with a group of 12 Tanzanians is now a global movement active in over 60 countries around the world – and growing. Find a chapter near you (or start your own)!
Photo credits on this page: JGI-DRC/Aime Syakehya Kasereka, JGI-Uganda/Jemima Arikiriza, JGI-Congo/Fernando Turmo, JGI/Ashley Sullivan