Apr 10th, 2013 1:00 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This post is by ONE Chief Executive Officer Michael Elliott and was originally published on the Skoll World Forum website.
In 2008, ONE launched its first call for applications for the newly created ONE Africa Award. The award was the brain child of ONE’s good friend and now board member, Howard G. Buffett, who charged us with recognising innovative, dynamic, African-founded organisations, groups and individuals that are engaged in life-changing, innovative efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in their local communities, regions and countries. Five years later, we have been overwhelmed with the depth of creativity, enthusiasm and innovation coming from the continent; awarding the prize becomes more difficult each year.
Through this process, certain applicants have stood out. We’re particularly interested in recognising organisations that can tie direct service delivery elements—let’s say providing pro bono legal knowledge to women fighting for their rights —to innovative advocacy efforts that will result in systemic transformation of their nation’s prospects.
ONE’s unique role is spotlighting these organisations and helping them overcome a common challenge of social entrepreneurship – bringing projects to scale. All too often, a brilliant idea or system stays local when it has potential for a much broader impact at the state, country or regional level. But that’s where an award is useful — along the way, we do identify a number of “finalist” organisations so that we can feature their stories on our websites and social media streams in words, pictures and videos. These organisations often have budgets of only tens of thousands of dollars a year so even if they’re not a winner, we can often raise their profile enough in order to sustain and develop their efforts.
For example, 2011 Finalist Sylva Food Solutions, a Zambian social enterprise, comes to mind. From just an initial review of their application, they seemed like quite a successful catering and processed foodstuff business based in Lusaka. But we quickly learned about their efforts—through very sophisticated advocacy tactics—to change how Zambians ate.
The founder, Sylvia Banda, lamented that Zambians had turned their backs to the local, indigenous foods that surrounded them in favor of Western style foods, often processed so much that these foods lacked nutritional value. What did Sylvia do? She worked to create a market for local foods by engaging the government to do media campaigns on television and radio to promote local foods—even the then-First Lady of Zambia took up the mantle.
When Sylvia realized that she didn’t have enough quality produce to meet rising demand, she went out and recruited new farmers and taught them how to raise and select great produce that she could sell. And then she also worked to create a strong brand image around Sylva Food Solutions so that it is sought out by Zambians and the country’s diaspora. In short, Sylvia and her crew over the course of a few years created an entirely integrated supply chain and market that allows Sylva Food Solutions to scale up and compete successfully.
And that’s just one example. We keep finding social enterprise and civil society organizations all over the continent that have developed smart, effective solutions to development challenges. In 2012, we had two social enterprises make it in our top five finalists. One of the organizations, Muliru Farmers Conservation Group of Kenya, commercialized a traditional medicinal plant in order to tie the conservation of Kenya’s last rainforest to the economic interests of its surrounding human communities. Muliru worked with scientists to determine the extract (camphor) and consumer product specialists to create a range of Naturub® products that are sold throughout Kenya to treat colds and aches.
Just next door in Uganda, we found SOVHEN, a social enterprise that has found a way to manufacture sanitary pads from agricultural waste of bananas in order to help Uganda’s girls stay in school. The manufacturing process employs women from the local communities while another set of women then sell those pads within the communities, creating a social marketing arm for SOVHEN’s “Bana-pads.” SOVHEN also USES student groups to change the image of girls in school by spreading messages about the benefits of girls in schools.
While ONE still campaigns and advocates for the life-saving aid that the developed world sends to many African countries, the ONE Africa Award is a constant reminder to us that Africans are working every day to develop and bend the arc of its future to one of prosperity and opportunity. We know very well that Africa’s transformation won’t come because of what’s done from the outside; its citizens must demand change for themselves, and are increasingly doing so. But we’re still proud to acknowledge and recognize local heroes such as those who compete for the ONE Africa Award each year.
Mar 14th, 2013 1:38 PM UTC
By Wangui Muchiri
The real winners of the Kenyan election to me are first and foremost, Kenyans. Kudos for maintaining peace and calm through out the electioneering and election period against all odds and predictions. Now more than ever, as the world continues to watch, Kenya needs to uphold the virtues espoused in their national anthem: Peace. Love. Unity.
Kenya’s election has received a nod from several institutions, the AU, European Union, Canada, South Africa, China amongst others, as having been free and fair.
Contrary to widespread predictions that the race would end in a runoff, President elect, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta was able to receive over 50 percent of the votes cast in the first round as required by the constitution for a candidate to be declared president. His main challenger, Raila Odinga, has not conceded and will be going to the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the polls. In all this a key proud moment for Kenyans is that its new Constitution more than proved the value of the paper it is written on, Kenya’s political leaders and Kenyans as a whole honoured it.
Right now, the issue at the top of everyone’s mind is what the President elect’s International Criminal Court (ICC) case means for the governance of Kenya. One school of thought, as expressed by the Brookings Institution says, that Kenyans have seen the ICC intervention in Kenya as largely a political, rather than a judicial, process. They contend that a large fraction of Kenyans have come to regard the ICC intervention as an attempt to remove both Mr. Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, from political contention rather than seek justice for the victims of the violence.
On the other hand, there is a school of thought, which says, the ICC did not invite itself to Kenya. The ICC intervened in this case after Kenya’s parliament were unable to establish a local tribunal to try the crimes that followed the 2008 election.
Since the just concluded election, there have been more developments on the ICC front. The ICC has dropped their case against Uhuru’s co-accused, former Civil service head, Francis Muthaura, on the grounds of lack of sufficient evidence. The prosecution has since admitted that it has dropped 5 witnesses in the Ruto-Arap Sang case, while it has dropped 7 witnesses in the Uhuru-Muthaura case.
As a result, a status conference in the ICC court against Kenya’s president-elect, Uhuru Kenyatta, is set for Monday, 18th of March.
In his victory acceptance speech, Kenya’s president–elect said he would continue to cooperate with the ICC, but at the same time asked the international community to respect Kenya’s sovereignty.
Whichever way it goes, Kenya’s just concluded election shows that Kenya has come of age, and the resolve of its people across the deep tribal divides to maintain peace and calm in Kenya is to be hailed. This is a new dawn for Kenya.
Nov 28th, 2012 5:01 PM UTC
For this World AIDS Day, ONE agriculture expert Kelly Hauser highlights four stellar agriculture programs that are working to improve the incomes and nutrition of people living with HIV and their families.
I’m no HIV/AIDS expert, but I know that it’s incredibly hard for people living with HIV and their families to rise out of poverty for many reasons: decreased productivity as a result of being sick, stigma and discrimination, or the death of family members who would have helped young people to learn a trade. Agriculture, which is a source of income and food for two-third of Africans, and nutrition, which is key to getting well, staying well and being productive, are intricately linked to poverty in Africa.
Thus, for World AIDS Day, I’m highlighting four programs that address both incomes and nutrition of HIV-affected people in Africa: a village poultry project in Mozambique, a horticulture growing association in Kenya, a permaculture training program for orphans in Malawi, and hospital gardening in South Africa.
Kyeema Foundation: The Kyeema Foundation’s Village Poultry Project is working with women in Mozambique who are both farmers and caregivers for family members with HIV/AIDS. Kyeema is working with the women to help them raise chickens – which provide nutritious meat, eggs and fertilizer. Chicken farming is a great option for these burdened women since chickens, which eat insects and kitchen scraps, are relatively easy to raise and they provide a much-needed source of protein for sick family members, who require more protein than healthy family members.
Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization: This organization is made up of Kenyan women living with HIV who are working together to increase their incomes. The US government’s global food security initiative, Feed the Future, helped the organization set up a passion fruit nursery, taught them about drip irrigation and sustainable pest control, and linked them to a reliable market. Last year, the nursery sold $16,000 worth of seedlings and 7,500 kilograms of passion fruit. Many members are now saving money and several joined together to purchased land to expand their farming. “This project brought hope back into our community,” Irine Zippy Kalamai says. “I now believe that if farmers can easily access quality seeds, they will have a better yield and ultimately high incomes.”
Permaculture for Orphans and Vulnerable Children: Worldwide, 16.6 million children have lost parents due to HIV. In losing their parents, most of these children also lose their access to farming knowledge. Feed the Future is working to counteract that by teaching permaculture, a type of sustainable agriculture that includes eating nutritious and local foods, to orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi and elsewhere. Permaculture emulates natural ecosystems while providing food for consumption and sale, creating a self-sustaining system that is quite different from the monocropping of industrial agriculture. In the backyard of the Malawi program managers, children learn about nutrition and how to intersperse trees and indigenous crops, raise bees to pollinate, recycle used kitchen water and compost toilet waste to help fertilize crops. Not only are they learning to make a living, they are also learning to live healthier.
GardenAfrica: GardenAfrica is a UK-based organization that works with the organization South Africa HIV to train HIV patients to garden and supply them with healthy foods. They work behind the courtyard walls of clinics and hospitals to maintain training gardens, where patients learn and grow food. Participants learn about organic gardening, irrigation, nutrition, medicinal plants and new styles of cooking. They take home vegetables and starter packs with instructions and seeds for tomatoes, spinach, chard, broccoli, cabbage and many other vegetables and herbs.
These are only a few of the programs out there, but around the world nutrition and self-sustaining agriculture are making people stronger and healthier in the fight to end AIDS and extreme poverty.
Nov 16th, 2012 6:13 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Founded in 1997 and formally registered as a Community Based Organization in 1999, a group of small-scale farmers in rural Western Kenya established MFCG with the mission to protect and conserve Kakamega Forest. Kakamega Forest, covering an area of 240 km2 and containing more than a thousand unique species of flora and fauna, is Kenya’s last remaining rainforest, which was once part of the vast equatorial Congo-Guinean forest that stretched from the continent’s Atlantic coast to its Indian one. The farmers that founded MFCG saw an acute, urgent need to raise awareness in the local communities of the dire state of the forest and to support the local and national governments’ efforts to conserve the forest.
MFCG initially began by using traditional advocacy methods to reach out to their communities to educate them about the forest. It wasn’t easy at first in trying to share the message that the forest had to be protected. In particular, MFCG had to convey the intense pressure Kakamega Forest had come under over the years due to the growing and increasingly impoverished population found in western Kenya. The forest was a readily available, go-to resource for firewood, game meat, and wild fruit and vegetables. While the local population had lived off the forest and its abundance for millennia, it was now becoming obvious that the forest would perish under the relenting demand for human growth and development. MFCG’s founding farmers quickly discovered that their goal of conserving the forest seemed to contravene their fellow community members’ most basic and overwhelming instincts for survival—often without regard for the environmental cost.
At this point, it dawned on MFCG that it must tie the preservation of the forest to the economic interests of its surrounding communities. Consequently, MFCG changed its approach and began highlighting how the communities relied on the forest for their survival and that if the forest were no longer there, how would the community survive? By underscoring the impending loss of these traditional natural resources, MFCG began changing the attitudes of the forest’s human communities. This and other activities increased MFCG’s credibility and eventually led to its recognition by outside organizations.
In 2000, MFCG began partnering with organizations like ICIPE, a Kenyan scientific research institute focused on using science to discover natural resources that could be developed and commercialized to promote the conservation of endangered environmental hotspots. ICIPE was and still is particularly concerned about those areas with an abundance of biodiversity and ecologically sensitive organisms. Having heard about MFCG’s efforts to conserve Kakamega Rainforest, ICIPE wanted to know if there were any particular traditional plants that the communities around Kakamega used. ICIPE and MFCG eventually settled upon the wild ocimum kilimandscharicum plant, which had been traditionally used to treat insect bites, muscle aches, colds and nasal congestion. ICIPE soon determined the active compound in the plant and began testing different products in which it could be commercialized. In the meantime, MFCG had to domesticate the plant so it could encourage farmers to grow the plant in order to provide enough of it to ICIPE as it began zeroing in on the best applications for its essential oils and extracts.
Fast forward a few years and MFCG now has 460 farmers growing ocimum, which provides an additional income to the farmer and creates employment at local processing and collection centers. The ocimum is distilled in Kakamega to its essential oils and crystals, which are then transported to Nairobi to be manufactured into the Naturub® brand of balms and ointments that are sold in stores and pharmacies throughout Kenya. Naturub® products can be most likened to Vick’s Vapor Rub® in the United States and elsewhere. Ocimum contains natural camphor, a compound that when inhaled helps clear nasal congestion and colds. It also can reduce inflammation and aches related to insect bites and muscle soreness. Moreover, MFCG, ICIPE and their commercial partners are exploring additional products to be produced from ocimum and other traditional plants from Kakamega.
Before MFCG had begun its work with the ocimum plant, 40% of the households surrounding Kakamega Forest had no sustainable source of income. Those households now participating in MFCG’s activities have a regular income, which puts their children in schools and provides food and shelter amongst other life necessities. MFCG can directly ties its activities and efforts to all of the world’s Millennium Development Goals. In particular, we at ONE acknowledge that MFCG is particularly effective at MDG 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability) while the income MFCG’s members earn enable them to eradicate extreme poverty (MDG 1), educate their children (MDG 2) and seek any necessary health treatments (MDGs 4, 5 & 6).
We’re proud to have MFCG as a finalist for this year’s ONE Africa Award!
Oct 9th, 2012 2:00 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
Meet Prezzo, a rapper from Kenya with a big heart, great style and a positive attitude. He just won second place on the latest season of Big Brother Africa, earning him a gig as a ONE Ambassador, tickets to a Jay Z concert in New York City, and a trip to ONE’s Washington DC office.
As an ambassador, he will use his musical influence and star power in Africa to help raise awareness for ONE’s issues on a completely voluntary basis. He’s already done some awesome things for ONE — including designing this amazing “Swagger Farmer” shirt (which is available for purchase here) to help make the concept of farming cool to African youth.
We’ve been waiting for weeks for him to come to ONE’s office to meet the team and learn about our issues, and today was finally that day. In anticipation, we asked ONE members on Twitter and Facebook to submit questions for Prezzo, and we got some great ones from all corners of the globe.
After a short talk with ONE staff, I sat down and asked him a few of those questions. What surprised me was that 1) People knew all about Prezzo’s ambassadorship with ONE! 2) People were really interested in his love life and 3) People wanted to know how his advocacy would affect his music.
In addition to answering ONE members’ questions, he also treated us to a little show, freestyle rapping for ONE staffers (at 9 in the morning, no less!) Listen to it here:
Malaka: First of all — we’ve had about 10 ONE members ask about your relationship with Goldie, a musician from Africa who was also on this season of Big Brother Africa. They want to know: What’s going to happen between you and her?
Prezzo: Goldie is a beautiful person. We had a close relationship in the house, so I don’t see why we can’t have a close relationship outside the house. Everything has a reason. We just have to wait and see.
Peris Mugwe, via Facebook: What are you planning on doing with your “Swagger Farmer” idea?
I want to work hand-in-hand with ONE, and I am more than willing to put my contributions out there. I already came up with that slogan, “Swagger Farmer,” and hopefully it will attract a lot of people and youngsters. The more farmers we have, the less chances we have for Africans to suffer from malnutrition and poverty.
Jane Peter Mhina, via Facebook: Are you ready to commit yourself to your duties as a ONE ambassador?
I’m ready. I was born ready like Freddy. Like I said before — I look up to someone like Bono [ONE's co-founder] because he’s a celebrity with a good cause behind him. It’s good to give back. I’m here in the ONE Campaign office right now and we’re having a conversation on working toward a way forward. I am at ONE’s service.
A clip of Prezzo on Big Brother Africa:
@c_uzie, via Twitter: What impact do you hope to make in Kenya & Africa as a ONE Ambassador?
I am sure there are graphs of progress with the ONE Campaign. In my term, I want us to look at the graph and see some changes. I have a lot of friends who are musicians as well who can help spread the word across the continent. Thanks to Big Brother Africa, I have a wide net now. There’s a lot of change that can be made out there. I’m not going to be the one, but one of the people making the change. Together with the other artists and the youth, all they need is the opportunity.
Listen to a sample of Prezzo’s music here:
@paulanxtone via Twitter: Do we expect new songs from Prezzo as a way of creating awareness of extreme poverty and preventable disease?
Most definitely. I don’t think I should be sharing this with the whole world, but I am working with the same people that I was telling you about, my artist friends. With the Internet, you don’t need to be in the same room to record a collaboration. I want to get a few names from each and every country in Africa, have a theme, a song like “Heal the World” kind of theme, and join that together with Channel O [a music channel in Africa], MTV and ONE to help get the message across. I want to look at this as playing soccer. I’m the striker, you’re the keeper, everyone’s playing a role in it, and together the chances coming a winner is very high. I don’t want a one man show. If I have support from other people the message will be easily taken across.
@nyalolwe via Twitter: What do you think the youth can do to change corrupt leaders?
I think what the youth can do to make change is cast their votes wisely. Don’t cast your votes based on hearsay or what you’ve received from an individual. Don’t think just five years down the line. Think 10 years, three or four terms ahead. If you vote for the right leaders, we wont have to worry about the politicians, just other issues. The vote really matters.
Malaka: Which issues are you closest to? Why?
Back home, we have a lot of children’s homes. My mom and I normally give donations to a children’s home called Mama Fatuma every Friday, because it’s near the town where I grew up. There’s also a place called New Life Home, where I got two beautiful sisters and one brother. The kids from that home are brought there because parents think they are HIV-positive, but sometimes they end up being HIV-negative, thanks to medication and care. I believe that there is a god out there, and he is not going to let a child suffer because of a parent’s mistakes. God works in mysterious ways.
Malaka: Any last words for our ONE members?
Mine is really a statement: I’m happy and proud to be here. I was even happier when I saw people rocking the T-shirts [ONE staffers were wearing Prezzo's design when he walked into the ONE office]. I just want ONE members to know that I’m at your service. Whatever you guys would want from me, I’m just a phone call away. I’m very committed to the ONE Campaign and was waiting for an opportunity like this. God has given me a platform to prove what kind of individual Prezzo really is.
Got a question for Prezzo? Tweet it to him at @AMB_Prezzo or leave it in a comment below.
Take action now and sign the petition to break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger once and for all. Stay strong, stay committed, stay hungry for change.
Jul 26th, 2012 4:24 PM UTC
By Mzwandile Sibanda
Kenyan Music legend David Mathenge, AKA Nameless, popped into the Big Brother Africa house via video this morning to remind the house mates to keep staying hungry for change.
Watch his message here:
His song “Ninanoki” broke Kenyan chart records by staying at number one for 110 days, and he was named as one of Kenya’s 100 most influential people by the Standard newspaper. In 2009 he won MTV Africa Music Awards – Artist of The Year, Best Male & Listener’s Choice.
Nameless has carved out a special space for himself in the African music industry since his debut in 1999, and continues to be of the most important voices of his generation.
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The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
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