Jan 30th, 2013 9:03 AM UTC
By Hugh Masekela
As a young man growing up in Witbank I dreamed of becoming a musician and using my voice and my music to bring happiness to others.
But your voice is even more powerful. Alone we may go unheard, but if we stand together, our leaders can’t ignore us.
That’s why ONE has joined forces with the United Nations to find out what matters to you. We want to capture the voices, priorities and views of people across South Africa, which we will share with world leaders as they begin to create a new plan to end extreme poverty.
It will only take a few minutes and the results will be shared with world leaders.
What would make the most difference to you? You choose.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Musician and ONE member
Jan 27th, 2013 9:23 AM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
As many of you know, we recenlty announced the winner of the 2012 ONE Africa Award in Dar es Salaam. While that was an incredible high—to acknowledge the amazing work of not only the winner but out other four finalists—what’s been more gratifying is the work behind the scenes to tell these organizations’ stories in five easy-to-watch video vignettes. We previewed these at our awards ceremony and since then, we have been editing, perfecting and mastering these videos up to this point.
Watch the videos here:
It’s not as easy as it looks. ONE’s filmmaker for this project, Amr Singh, and I visited these five finalists back in October. We interviewed corporate chieftains, government ministers and everyday citizens who are fighting for change while we also tried to capture the essence of each organization’s work. We had to wake up early, drive long distances and take more red-eye flights than can be considered healthy. All in all, we probably recorded between ten and twenty hours of interviews and footage for each finalist. That’s a lot of video to comb through in order to produce a final video that shouldn’t be more than four minutes (and in reality, we were trying to cap them under three-and-a-half minutes as you’ll see in a few).
It’s also a challenge to actually pick out the story to tell about these finalists. How could we somehow demonstrate the incredible support and integrity that Positive-Generation has engendered amongst its peers in Cameroon? Or what about the poignant story of the rural hospital in South Africa not being able to provide the adapted wheel chairs for the patients in such a rural environment? Inevitably, some incredible aspect of one of these finalists has to be cut and left on the floor of the editing studio. So as you watch these videos, consider them as an introduction to the organizations and challenges they’re working to address. There’s so much more going on behind the scenes, and I hope these whet your appetite to learn more.
These videos will be rolled out over the next week on ONE.org. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
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!
Nov 1st, 2012 5:25 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
After reviewing over 250 applications , visiting 5 countries in 12 days, and drinking more African coffee than any doctor would recommend as healthy, we’re excited to announce the five finalists for the 2012 ONE Africa Award. In its fifth year, the ONE Africa Award aims to reward those African organizations, 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. These groups are usually involved in providing some direct services to their communities and tying those efforts to direct advocacy in order that lasting change may take place.
For this year, we received applications from all corners of the continent. There were completed applications in English, French, Portuguese and even a few with Arabic attachments. We surely discovered the diversity of this beautiful continent as we read the stories of the organizations and the problems they are addressing in their villages, cities and nations. It is truly impossible to choose the top five, for each application deserves recognition, but we had a job to do. The 2012 ONE Africa Award Finalists are the following:
Friends of the Global Fund Africa (Friends Africa) – Working from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, Friends Africa focuses on raising African support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Working with partners, they have secured tens of millions of dollars of commitments for the Fund from African governments and businesses.
Muliru Farmers Conservation Group (MFCG) – MFCG’s members live in the towering shadows of Kenya’s last remaining rainforest, Kakamega Forest. Faced with its impending destruction, MFCG mobilized in the late 1990s to advocate for its conservation and in the meantime, found a way to tie local farmers’ economic interests to the health and vitality of Kakamega Forest.
Positive-Generation (PG) – Headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, PG fights for the Cameroonian government to maintain its commitments to spend 15% of the nation’s budget on healthcare. PG started at a university as a social club to fight the stigmatization of HIV+ people and advocated for the government to provide free antiretroviral drugs after implementing a successful monitoring program of government health clinics and hospitals.
Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) – While its offices may be in downtown Johannesburg, RHAP works for the rights of South African’s rural citizens to access affordable, quality healthcare in their home districts. In its short existence, RHAP has become the de facto source for the most innovative policies and practices to improve rural healthcare and while at it, has given a voice to rural health workers that they never had before.
Supporting Orphans & Vulnerable for Better Health, Education & Nutrition (SOVHEN) – SOVHEN is a community development organization working in four of Uganda’s rural districts. It started as a student group to give new opportunities to their citizens and took on the challenge of keeping girls in school by finding an incredibly innovative, affordable method to manufacture sanitary pads.
We at ONE are truly honored to be able to have the privilege of learning about these organizations and telling their stories. Over the next few weeks, we hope you will join us as we share their stories in words, photos and videos.
The 2012 ONE Africa Award winner will be announced on December 5 in Dar es Salaam. Stay tuned and enjoy learning about their amazing work!
Dec 14th, 2011 4:43 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
I’m delighted to announce that Groupe de Reflexion et d’action, Femme Democratie et Developpment (GF2D), from Togo are the 2011 winners of the fourth annual ONE Africa Award.
The ONE Africa Award celebrates and bolsters innovative Africa-led, Africa-driven advocacy efforts to help advance one or more of the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s blueprint to fighting extreme poverty and disease. The goals specifically address critical issues to development, such as; halving extreme poverty; halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and malaria and providing universal primary education.
GF2D helps women in exercising their right to participate in decision making processes of their country.
One of GF2D’s tools is the use of paralegals who are trained in Togolese laws by GF2D and empowered to communicate messages to communities about women’s rights, engage in mediations related to marriage, inheritance and children, and offer referral assistance for issues that need to be handled in court. Many of their paralegals are everyday women – traders, seamstresses, mothers, whose lives have been changed because of their paralegal training and some of them have gone on to seek local political positions. These women and men have become well-respected members of their societies because of their knowledge of Togolese laws and their ability to convey the rights of women to their peers in simple messages. GF2D has been integral to the increase in the number of female political office holders in Togo today.
As winners of this year’s ONE Africa Award GF2D receive $100000 in prize money.
As the award was announcement here in Johansburg, Léontine, GF2D’s General Secretary said:
“We dedicate the 2011 ONE Award to all Togolese women whose bravery and dynamism are well known. We want to recognize the silent majority of those who suffer from violence, discrimination and low incomes gained from their hard efforts. The announcement of the award was greeted with a great joy at the “House of women” by all the members and staff of GF2D.
This award represents the recognition for over 20 years of efforts to realize a vision where: women know their rights and fully benefit from them:
- Togolese women, freed from the constraints and socio-cultural burdens imosed on them, contribute to the development of their society
- equal participation of men and women exists in the political, social and economic decision making processes
- a genuine partnership exists between men and women in the management of their families, public and private institutions
We receive this award as an encouragement to persevere in defending the cause of women. We thank ONE whose mission is to recognize, reward and support the important work of African civil society organizations towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “
The runners up of the award this year in no particular order include: Prévention Information et Lutte contre le Sida (PILS) – Mauritius, Africa Youth Trust (AYT) – Kenya, Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR) – Ghana and Sylva Food Solutions Limited (SFSL) – Zambia
Previous award winners include Nigeria’s Development Communications Network (Devcoms) and Kenya’s Slums Information Development and Resources Centres (SIDAREC) and SEND West Africa.
We are here today to celebrate Africa’s unsung heroes and to play our part on changing the stereotype narrative on Africa. We don’t deny that there are challenges that exist, but, we also need to highlight the successes, the determination and the ingenuous creativity of the African people despite these challenges.
I’m sure you will join me in congratulating GF2D and our runners ups, and thanking them for the amazing work they are doing across the continent. We wish them every success in the future!
Sep 7th, 2011 2:34 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
Reading about Africa in the Western news media can often be a depression-inducing experience. Conflicts, corruption, coups, famine and disease are just a few of the ills singled out in the everyday news coverage of the African continent in Europe and North America. We at ONE are working hard to change that narrative, though. Not by denying the major challenges that certainly exist on my home continent, but by highlighting the successes, the determination and the ingenuous creativity of the African people despite these challenges. There is no good reason why Africa’s positive stories of the major progress that are happening everyday should not be told and be overshadowed disproportionately by short-term, isolated challenges. Africa is rising and the Africa of today is a continent of great optimism and greater consciousness of the need to chart its own destiny. It is a continent of much more empowered citizens when it comes to demanding more accountability from their leaders as well as participating in shaping their own communities and their countries. These are the stories that must be told and we at ONE are finding such examples everyday and making an effort to bring you this other narrative about Africa by sharing the positive story/ies of a rising Africa.
One aspect of that story is the rise of a vocal and vibrant civil society in Africa. A civil society that has been effective in contributing to public participation, clamored for more transparent and accountable governance; lobbied for women and children’s rights to be understood and respected, and demanded better basic public services. Indeed African civil society has been an integral part of the real change that has swept over the continent in the last decade. These great stories must be brought to the fore. Though the dynamism of the civil society varies depending in which country you are, there’s an unmistakable increase in the activities and influence of non-governmental organizations—even notwithstanding the multitude of challenges civil society organizations face in much of Africa. From lack of funding, to hostile governments and restrictions on speech (to just name a few), it can be incredibly tricky if not risky to operate in some African countries, making their efforts and successes that much more heroic.
But challenges have never stopped progress and in Africa such obstacles have only strengthened determination. At ONE we’re proud to partner and work with many organizations across the continent. We often showcase the health education efforts and medical interventions by local clinics and medical groups to stop malaria transmission or treat HIV or prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. We work with farmers associations and other agricultural organizations to promote the best farming practices. We lend a helping hand to our fellow advocacy groups as they encourage their governments to root out corruption and open their national budgets and laws to public scrutiny and review. None of this would be happening if it weren’t for African citizens taking the initiative to make their communities better places to live and work.
We have also been privileged to feature some of these organizations over the past few years through offering the ONE Africa Award, a $100,000 USD prize devoted to recognizing the work of indigenous African organizations, individuals and groups in developing the continent specifically in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals. Last year’s recipient was SEND-Ghana, a policy, research and advocacy-based organization working to promote good governance and equality among men and women in Ghana. The group’s efforts have helped civil society to organize and influence policy and improve transparency through empowering citizens to monitor the government’s delivery of basic services.
We’ve found that offering this prize is our best way to shine a spotlight on some of the exceptional work being driven and led by Africans. Past years winners have come from Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana and the call for nominations for the next award is now open until September 16, 2011. If you know of any Africa-based organizations finding improbable solutions to vexing challenges, please encourage them to apply today.
Jul 8th, 2011 2:31 PM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
The annual ONE Africa Award, is back for the fourth year running. If you are an indigenous African organization making a tangible difference in your community, then we are eagerly waiting to hear from you. Why? Because, we at ONE are believers in the future of Africans being transformed by Africans themselves. The ONE Africa Award is about celebrating our victories and pointing out the silver lining in the cloud.
This year the ONE Africa Award will particularly address two things; creativity and advocacy. We shall be rewarding innovative Africa-led, Africa-driven advocacy efforts to help advance one or more of the Millennium Development Goals. The winner receives $100, 000 USD.
Since crowning our first winner in 2008, we continue to see evidence of selfless African efforts in utilizing unique methods designed to reduce poverty and the spread of preventable diseases. These organizations demonstrate that they understand the complexities of working with their communities and hence provide the best solutions to combat their problems, and drive the demand for change that is necessary for the continent to transform and attain any of the Millennium Development Goals.
Our first winner in 2008 was Devcoms for its work with the media in Nigeria, training and educating journalists and editors on public healthcare issues. Devcoms’ work, corresponded with a substantial rise in media coverage of maternal and child health issues in Nigeria, bringing much needed attention to the challenges and awareness of how they can be addressed. In 2009, SIDAREC, a community organization founded by young people in Nairobi’s slums, won for its work in engaging and empowering disadvantaged youth in the urban slums of Kenya’s capital and actively preventing violence. Last year, SEND West Africa won for their work to educate and empower citizens to take part in the political process and access the services available to them. SEND’s model of citizen engagement, education, training and advocacy is backed up by policy research and they not only promote sustainable development, but also ensure that their efforts can be replicated in different regions and countries.
You could be this year’s winner. Nominations for the award have already begun and close on September 16th, 2011. Don’t waste another minute. For more details on how and where to send your applications, visit our website at: one.org/africaaward
The award recipient will be announced in December 2011.
May 23rd, 2011 11:27 AM UTC
By Dr. Sipho Moyo
If governments and leaders are not accountable to their citizens, resources will be squandered, services such as health and education will not be delivered effectively, businesses will not thrive, civil society will not flourish and conflict-affected countries will remain stuck in repeated cycles of violence and instability. For development to be sustainable, people need to be able to hold their governments to account to demand that they make good use of revenues, including aid, taxes and the proceeds of oil, minerals and other natural resources.
This video, the first in a series of videos produced as part of ONE’s Profiles and Perspectives Project was shot in Johannesburg as part of ONE’s Africa Symposium. In it, some of the brightest minds in business, civil society and academia explain how people are asserting their power, using information and new technologies to hold their governments to account.
African-led civil society organisations such as SEND – the winner of ONE’s 2010 Africa Award – play an important role in empowering local people to hold decision-makers to account, so that health, education and other services are improved. Technologies such as mobile phones, the internet and social media – in combination with traditional media such as newspapers, radio and television – are enhancing access to information and turbo-charging demands for accountability. Greater transparency and information technologies have the potential to transform the landscape of power, empowering people to raise their voices, to provide feedback, to hold their governments to account and to drive faster progress on poverty reduction and economic development.
From Kenya to Nigeria, from Cairo to Cape Town, in urban and rural areas, Africans are leading the way, using new technologies to transform the landscape of power. Ushahidi – meaning testimony in Swahili – is a great example. Born out of the post-election violence in Kenya, and bringing together African entrepreneurs, techno-whizzes, and civil society activists, the crowd-sourcing platform is now piloting an approach in which people use cell-phones to provide feedback on health and education services. Twaweza, an organisation that is about spreading information and sparking conversations that lead to change is another great example. This is about “citizens making stuff happen” as Twaweza puts it. Not donors. Not just governments. Not just NGOs. Not just the private sector. But people. Technology is not a silver bullet. Bad politics still constrains development. But in Africa as elsewhere, accountability, turbo-charged by transparency and technology, is on the move!
Building on its traditional focus on smart aid and its ongoing work on natural resource governance and transparency ONE is looking to promote an agenda on governance, transparency and accountability that responds to African priorities. We think that ONE can help to promote effective, transparent and accountable governance in three ways:
Transparency and accountability around aid, budgets and natural resource governance – and citizens’ monitoring of service delivery, for instance in relation to health and education – are current front-runners in terms of specific issues and campaigns that ONE might focus on. But we are keen to hear from you. What are the issues that matter to you? What are you doing to demand accountability? What successes have you had and what challenges have you faced? And what can ONE do to support your demands for accountability? We’re really keen to get your feedback, so please add your comments below.
Dr. Sipho Moyo and Dr. Alan Hudson
Feb 15th, 2011 7:35 AM UTC
By Edith Jibunoh
In recent years there has been real progress in efforts to improve livelihoods and fight poverty and disease. Although affected by the global recession, African economies bounced back quickly and are amongst the fastest growing in the world.
But despite this progress, too many still live in extreme poverty. And even those who don’t fall within the technical definition of poverty often suffer as a result of poor governance and a lack of opportunity.
Yet balanced against these challenges are real signs of hope.
Rapid advances in technology – together with our greater understanding of how to harness it – are accelerating the ability of citizens to demand improvements in the services their government provides, just as they are enabling governments to improve the supply of services to their citizens.
New technologies are also enabling other progress: entrepreneurs can expand their markets to reach the most marginalised people, and the most remote producers can sell their goods at fairer prices because their mobile phones allow them to find out the real market rate. And with these developments come the hope of a more equitable form of growth in years to come.
It is within this context that ONE will be hosting a dynamic discussion on the role of transparency and technology in promoting and driving economic development in Johannesburg on 15 February. The ONE Africa Symposium 2011 will feature several speakers in short inspirational 10-minute presentations about ideas that will help shape ONE’s work.
We will hear from students, policy makers, technology experts, academics and creatives, from all over Africa. Together we’ll highlight innovations that can drive increased transparency and accountability in governments and corporations. Throughout the symposium, we hope to amplify ideas that can inform policy makers and inspire entrepreneurs and activists. These ideas could ultimately transform Africa.
I’ll hope you join us and follow the conversation on Twitter via the #ONEsymposium hashtag.
ONE is a movement of 3 million people in Africa and around the world fighting the injustice of extreme poverty.
A single person's voice may go unheard, but if we come together as ONE, we cannot be ignored.
Join ONE today because together we can end extreme poverty.
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.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.