2021 end of year message to EBAFOSA Innovative Volunteerism actors

"Don't procrastinate, or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing".

This African proverb aptly captures the marching order of Innovative Volunteerism, which uses what you already have to start delivering climate action solutions that touch many lives and not wait for elusive perfection. An honest audit of our lives reveals that we all have what it takes to get started. We have sound minds. We have energy & healthy bodies. We have skills & talents. We have ubiquitous internet connectivity to access the wealth of knowledge and information on the internet at the comfort of our phone devices. We have free guidance and backstopping within EBAFOSA Innovative Volunteerism. And we have 24hours every day within which to flexibly plan our time and do something. There is no reason to postpone climate action for one more second.

Not when we still have 257million people going to bed hungry every day in Africa. Not when 700,000 of our mothers and their children chock to death every year from indoor pollution, arising from their use of charcoal & firewood, the only source of fuel they have. Not when over 12 million of our youth are getting into the labour market each year to compete for every diminishing job. Not when up to $48billion worth of economic opportunities would have ensured more food secured homes, more income opportunities, more money in more pockets, and more economic growth opportunities are lost every year as postharvest losses (PHLs). Not when climate change, the elephant in the room, with Africa heating up twice as fast as the rest of the world and this escalation only implies a compounding of socio-economic misery, which is already at a breaking point and will diminish continental GDP by 15% in less than nine years and shrink our incomes by up to 75%.

Moved by these realities, Innovative Volunteerism actors have listened to their conscience and taken praiseworthy actions. They have devised climate action solutions that work for the community and trained communities to take up and benefit from these solutions. They have embodied the epitome of Climate Action entrepreneurship – or what I like to call climatePreneurship, to nurture our communities from being just passive beneficiaries to being a market. They have worked with our mothers in the villages and engaged young people in learning institutions to be propagators of these climate action solutions that work for the community. They have not only made an impact at the ground level but at the policy level through anchoring solutions on relevant governance structures that will last. They have not only worked to impact communities within their jurisdictions but shared these lessons continentally to catalyze similar Innovative Volunteerism mindsets in other jurisdictions. From west to central to east Africa, Innovative Volunteerism actors have demonstrated incredible selflessness, dedication, and fidelity to the course of delivering climate action solutions that touch many lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q78__zhOG_o&t=21s

In Nigeria, thanks to the selfless efforts of Innovative Volunteerism actors, they have worked through the structure of local governance under the emir of Nasarawa to impact local communities. A women cassava farmers group has increased earnings by 100%, thanks to the decentralization of climate action solutions of solar dryers, enabling them to increase the product value of their cassava harvest through hygienic, efficient drying. Up to 500kgs of clean cooking fuel briquettes have been distributed to families across Nasarawa. These have proven to be up to 2 times cheaper than fuelwood and three times cheaper than kerosene. These market advantages have seen demand for clean cooking projected to increase to 2000 – 3000kgs in a short period. These lessons from Nigeria have been shared with over 200 additional young people in Uganda, Togo, and the DRC to take up and apply them to benefit communities in these additional jurisdictions.

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Beyond sharing lessons for operational level uptake, these lessons have also been shared with academic institutions to influence decision making towards prioritizing climate action both operationally and at the policy level. The Nasarawa State University at Keffi (NSUK) has taken up the data on enterprise & market benefits that directly benefit the communities and used it to establish a climate action entrepreneurship centre. This centre, which trains people from different disciplines – both policy & non-policy- to become entrepreneurs, now has a segment that trains students to devise enterprises that drive climate action while impacting communities. This is s significant structural development towards ensuring climatepreneurship becomes the norm and not the exception in Nigeria. 

More read

Making Africa Work through the Power of Innovative Volunteerism

Life is about moving forward. The alternatives are deterioration and regression. 

An African perspective on the latest UNEP Adaptation Gap Report

Implications of the COP26 outcomes for Africa

How can Africa develop economically while at the same time keeping to the promises of their Climate Actions

Africa Climate Action Finance Gap- A Worrisome Trend

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In Kenya, Innovative Volunteerism actors have worked with a group of farmers who were losing up to 600kgs of the harvest to enable them to reverse these losses and increase their earnings by 50%. Decentralization of clean cooking fuel briquettes to replace charcoal and firewood have seen a steady average market growth of 20% and the generation of up to $1000 in sales in less than five months.

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In Cameroon, youthful Innovative Volunteerism actors have complemented their technical skills and expertise in making biodigester plants, with in-kind support from local communities, towards building portable biodigesters to enable clean cooking access for our mothers. Through this collaboration, local communities have been mobilized into groups to build and run biodigesters. They are offering in-kind support in the form of unskilled labour, material, and waste – the feedstock to run the digester and their time towards building and operating the biodigesters. Through this collaboration, these local communities are also set to market the gas to generate revenues that they will use to pay the young people for their skills & expertise in developing the biodigesters. The communities will also have access to clean cooking gas to substitute the highly polluting charcoal & firewood that they traditionally use.

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In Uganda, young people have leveraged the structure of local governance in the Buganda kingdom, and the local financing structure of local cooperatives called Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLAs) that is anchored in the CBS-PEWOSA bank, to drive uptake of climate action solutions from an opportunities dimension among local communities. Accordingly, local communities have been trained and guided to take up climate action solutions of nature-based approaches to produce food – popularly called Ecosystems Based Adaptation (EBA) approaches. They have been trained and guided to take up solar dryers to add value, cut postharvest losses and enhance their incomes. Over 8000 community members have benefitted from these climate action solutions in less than six months. The social, economic, and environmental impacts have been taken up to influence institutional structures. The CBS-PEWOSA cooperative has established an additional programme to finance investments in these climate action solutions of EBA & solar dryers. The national standards body – the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), has taken up data on the effectiveness of solar dryers to use in developing a stand-alone affordable solar dryer standard to enable broad market uptake in designing and use of solar dryers, a climate action solution as an effective tool for stakeholders in the economy to use to achieve food safety and hygiene standards.

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These are just a few examples of what Innovative Volunteerism actors have done in driving uptake of climate actions through the market dimension leveraging two of Africa's powerhouses – the youth & the informal sector. Going forward, as we look forward to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement based on the accomplishments of COP26, the work of Innovative Volunteerism actors has shown us how implementation can be realized using what we already have, not what we hope to get. We celebrate you Innovative Volunteerism actors, and let us continue on this glorious path because the biggest individual action is collective action. This is how we can genuinely build a climate-resilient Africa. 

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