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Ketsia Passou Onema, the young Congolese climate activist

At just 19, Ketsia Passou Onema, from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has made environmental protection and climate issues her spearhead. The young activist, founder of the Fania association, is now UNICEF’s Youth Advocate in the DRC and ambassador for environmental and climate issues.

Although very young, Ketsia Passou Onema has a good grasp of environmental and climate issues, as well as the children’s rights she defends, both in the DRC and internationally. The young congolese, who has ambitions to become an environmental engineer, is now considered one of the leading figures in environmental protection in the DRC.

It was after moving with her family to Kinshasa, to a neighbourhood near the river, that she began to take an interest in environmental issues. Though she was very young, she was troubled to see tons of waste accumulating in the open air and swimming in the river, due to the lack of a public rubbish dump. At 12, while she was in secondary school, she had the opportunity to take part in a UNICEF “Young reporters” program. She began writing articles about water pollution in the DRC, but also about children’s rights being violated…

Later, in 2021, given her commitment to youth, she was appointed UNICEF Youth Advocate. Her mission consisted in raising public awareness of the problems affecting children and young people around the world. She successfully sensitized the Congolese authorities on a range of issues, including the registration of children in the civil registry, children’s right of access to drinking water….

As a UNICEF Ambassador for the environment and climate change, she is committed to ensuring that the voices of young people in her country are heard on these issues. Together with other young people, she intervenes in schools to raise awareness of the importance of protecting the environment, and organizes public events such as the climate march in Kinshasa prior to COP27. She has also been invited to speak at COP27 in Sharm-el-Sheikh in 2022.

In September 2022, Ketsia founded the Fania association, an organization that brings together young people to fight plastic production and water pollution in the DRC.

The young Congolese is pursuing her commitment to the climate issues. In February 2023, she took part in a residency organized by the French Embassy in Cameroon, on ways of taking action to promote awareness of the ecological emergency. Last July, she partcipated in the Media and Development Forum in France.