Feb 1st, 2013 9:24 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!
Dec 13th, 2012 3:40 PM UTC
By ONE Partners
Positive-Generation Executive Director Fogue Foguito shares his powerful remarks to ONE after receiving the 2012 Africa Award on behalf of his organization. His message, which reflects on advocacy’s true role in development, is Positive-Generation’s promise to ONE and the NGO community to fight HIV/AIDS through justice and human rights.
We do not know how to express our profound gratitude at receiving this distinguished award, which is beyond our individual merits. Every man, every organization or artist, seeks recognition. We are no different.
But it was hard to believe ONE’s decision. When the news came, we started panicking, wondering how such a young organization, rich in ideas but whose work is still in progress, could have been selected. Furthermore, how could we accept such an honor when in Africa, other organizations have been silenced? How could we accept it at a time when the problems being decried by such organizations are being written off as myths? Where every victory is challenged by a new setback?
We gathered our thoughts. Since we can not only attribute this distinction only to our own merits, we thought it very appropriate to turn to those organizations that have stood by us during difficult times, throughout our short existence, and who have promoted our role as advocates and as a community-based organization. Let me, with respect assure you that we are up to the task.
Personally, the challenges we face in the field tell us how important advocacy is. But we have never placed this role above everything. On the contrary, the field challenges enable frequent meetings between men and women, between communities, and these allow us to move at the level of all, with all and for all.
In our view, advocacy is not an isolated exercise. It is a means of reaching out and mobilizing the largest number of people and sharing a common image of sufferings and joys. Advocacy enables people to participate in decision-making processes that affect their lives. It is therefore an obligation to the advocate not to function in isolation. In this context he/she is permanently in contact with people. And whoever chooses his/her destiny as an advocate or an actor of development needs to learn as fast as possible to bring together forces that share a similar vision to his/hers.
A community-based organization like ours is in permanent contact with others, and our dream is that the realities of the communities with which we work, will one day be felt by all. That is why true advocacy organisations do not take anything lightly; they are obliged to understand rather than to judge. And if they have to take sides, they take the side of a vision of society that devoid of injustice, where underdevelopment and dehumanizing actions are a thing of the past.
At the same time, an organization like ours cannot shy away from difficult tasks. Positive-Generation is at the service of those who suffer and we must not shy away from such a vocation. Throughout our existence we have received our fair share of difficulties, in serving two basic principles: truth and freedom.
Since we aim to improve the living conditions of the communities we serve, we stand against lies and any other actions that promote injustice. Not withstanding our individual weaknesses, we strive to route our actions in two difficult but crucial commitments: taking a stand against lies and half-truths; and resisting oppression.
Given our role as advocates, it would be remiss of us not to take this opportunity to launch a strong appeal to our decision makers for more investment, and more political and financial commitment to people’s health, especially in the context of HIV/AIDS. Tremendous efforts have been made in recent years, but much still remains to be done, and this is the time to multiply our efforts.
Let me not divert attention from the major challenge; the issue of permanent access to treatment remains a dream to our people in Africa. If we consider just the issue of antiretroviral therapy, it is a question of fundamental human rights.
It is an issue of social justice, civility and especially democracy. Looked at in this way, it is difficult for a State to distance itself from its obligation to protect its populations. In a nutshell, the degree of the respect of the rights of affected people is a barometer of development, and importantly, is a true indicator of the degree of humanity, solidarity, civility and democracy of a nation.
Each new generation believes they can rebuild the world. Mine knows that this is not possible. But we do believe we can protect the world from further destruction. We are in a critical moment in the global effort to fight AIDS; in a context marked by decreasing financial resources; where financial crises are used as a pretext today to justify the threat on the lives of millions of people in the world and in Africa in particular.
Faced with this situation, today, we call on African leaders to muster enough courage and the political will of the fathers of African independence, to say no to this entire dependence tendency, and to take seriously their own responsibilities.
Let us reflect a little on who we really are, our limitations, our doubts, our sorrows. We feel easier, in accepting this award, to do so as a tribute to all those who share in the same struggle, but who, rather than receiving prizes, have instead experienced misfortune and persecution.
Here, my regards go to those ordinary – in fact extraordinary – men and women, who have inspired us. I think of Joseph Pouagam, Daniel Nonze, Dr. Charles Kouanfack, Flavien Ndonko, the late Gisèle Kengne and many others. We equally think of partner organizations such as ACMS (Cameroon Social Marketing Association), RAME, Act Up Paris, AIDES, Solidarité Sida, Coalition 15%, MOCPAT, GTIA and all community base organisation in Cameroon, who have spared no effort in supporting us in this journey.
We express our sincere thanks from the bottom of our hearts, and publicly declare our gratitude and appreciation for this award.
Long live the struggle for development and human right.s Long live the promotion of health. Long live Cameroon. God Bless Africa.
Show your support for Positive-Generation by LIKING their Facebook page and leaving a comment in this article.
Dec 5th, 2012 2:41 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
On the day we’ve announced the winner of the 2012 ONE Africa Award, we also look at our final runner-up, Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP). With two-and-a-half staff members RHAP has made a name for itself in South African policy and medical circles in less than two years.
Seeking an avenue for their voices to be heard, RuDASA (Rural Doctors Association of South Africa) and other medical associations devoted to rural healthcare joined together with leading NGOs and academic institutions to create the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) in 2009. Over the years, it had become increasingly apparent to these healthcare professionals that South Africa outright ignored or would not address healthcare specifically in rural settings. So they took it upon themselves to develop an initiative that would not only create and propose innovative policies for the government to consider implementing, but also begin to address the myriad problems that these practitioners and their patients face on a daily basis.
Since then, RHAP has been at the forefront of taking the data crunched by the Wits Centre for Rural Health on health outcomes and developing policies shaped by the NGO Section27’s vaunted legal tactics to South Africa’s Ministry of Health and other government bodies.
In its relatively short existence, it has become the leading voice for rural health policy that the government seeks out and to which it pays attention. RHAP also has the support and buy-in of the disparate healthcare practitioner’s organizations, including the rural doctors association, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists and other healthcare workers’ groups.
RHAP has pioneered an approach by which it is able to score the South African government’s proposed policies on their ability to be implemented in a rural context. RHAP has also been adept at proposing solutions to South Africa’s crisis in adequately staffing its rural hospitalities and facilities, even proposing a revision to the government’s medical service officer personnel policy, which has already been implemented in Kwazulu-Natal province after deliberately building media attention on the issue.
RHAP has also become the de facto ombudsman and quasi-inspector general for rural health workers. Working for government-managed health facilities in rural settings often means that these workers feel pressure to not speak out on problems, whether those problems be drug shortages, poor management practices or missing funds. These workers can now raise their concerns with RHAP, who in turn then takes them directly to the provincial health ministry, the media or the national health ministry in order to find solutions that benefit the patients and rural workers.
RHAP’s core innovation is its “rural-proofing” assessment to which it has subjected South African government policy to score and then recommend changes. It developed the rural-proofing assessment by consulting with the rural health workers closely and also by studying health policies and outcomes from other countries. The credibility that this “rural-proofing” gives RHAP has allowed it to also take up thorny issues with the government that are brought to it by government health workers. Due to the political pressures that district and provincial health authorities feel, they tend to ignore or do not want to act on legitimate complaints and issues that could undermine their work. By involving RHAP, health workers are able to circumvent these politics and reduce any negative repercussions they could face by speaking out.
One other innovation that became readily apparent is that RHAP is not creating its own advocacy juggernaut. RHAP has been incredibly smart in zeroing in on rural health needs, developing its credibility on those, and then piggybacking on the health advocacy work of other community organisations and institutions to infuse a rural perspective that would ordinarily be lacking. In these resource-constrained times for South African’s NGO sector, this has proven hugely beneficial and has resulted in a very lean advocacy machine.
RHAP’s efforts directly address MDGs 4 (reduce child mortality), 5 (improve maternal health) and 6 (fight HIV, malaria and other diseases). They envision a society where rural citizens are just as healthy as their fellow citizens in urban and suburban areas. We at ONE can’t wait to see that day.
Dec 5th, 2012 1:07 PM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
Positive-Generation, a Cameroon-based advocacy organization that fights for health rights for HIV-positive people, received the $100,000 prize for the 2012 ONE Africa Award today at the GAVI Alliance Partners Forum in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The annual award is given to the African organisation that shows the most promise in helping to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
Dr. Sipho Moyo, ONE’s Africa Director said, ” I continue to be awed by how much Africa contributes towards it’s own progress and that of mankind. Africa is rising against all odds, led by its own innovative indigenous solutions. We gather today to celebrate the contribution of an organization that is one among many, that are a leading light on this journey of socio-economic transformation and empowerment in Africa. It’s our great privilege to offer the 2012 ONE Africa Award to Positive-Generation”.
A crowd of guests from the GAVI Partners Forum, Tanzanian journalists, local ONE volunteers, ONE staffers from Johannesburg, DC and London, attended the Africa Award ceremony. The Honorable Zitto Kabwe and GAVI Alliance Chair Dagfinn Hoybraten gave remarks on ONE’s work on the continent.
The effectiveness of advocacy was the recurring theme of the event. Positive-Generation (PG) Executive Director Fogué Foguitoexplained that “advocacy allows [HIV-positive] people to participate in the decision-making process in their lives,” both empowering them, creating a sense of community and ensuring their rights to HIV treatment.
“We dedicate this prize to all those who struggle for freedom, social justice and particularly to the young Africans who are engaged daily to improve the living conditions of their fellow citizens,” he said.
ONE was praised for our advocacy work by both Mr. Kabwe and Mr. Hoybraten. Mr. Kabwe said that our through policy intervention on the continent is the reason why he’s been “supporting ONE all the way” and signing our petitions.
Mr. Hoybraten discussed the critical need for advocacy in global health development. “The fact that this year’s winner focuses on innovative advocacy for health makes this an even more special occasion,” he said. “Innovation is what GAVI is all about – from technological innovations in vaccines and vaccine delivery, to GAVI’s public-private business model. And good health, particularly through immunization, is key to economic development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
He also reflected on ONE’s work in calling on world leaders to fund GAVI last year, and thanked ONE members for advocating for vaccines.
To find out what Positive-Generation plans to do with the prize money, read our interview with Fogué. For specific updates, photos and quotes from today’s events, read live blog of the Africa Award ceremony here.
Join us in congratulating Positive-Generation by leaving a comment and liking their Facebook page.
Dec 4th, 2012 11:20 AM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Our next 2012 ONE Africa Award finalist is an inspiring organization from Uganda called Supporting Orphans & Vulnerable for Better Health, Education and Nutrition (SOVHEN).
As an orphan raised by his grandparents in rural Uganda, Richard Bbaale looked up to their daughter as an older sister as he learned to navigate this big wide world. When she was in her teens, he noticed that she began staying home from school for a week at a time, usually once a month or so. He even noticed that his sister used mud and leaves—to control the bleeding he’d later find out—since their grandparents couldn’t afford the expensive sanitary pads that would have helped her stay in school, prevented infections, or saved her from embarrassment. Years later, that feeling of helplessness and regret for his sister’s missed education haunted Richard.
Fast forward to Martyrs University Nkozi in the early 2000s. Richard is a student and starts a student club with his friends that focuses on supporting orphans and other vulnerable groups in rural communities with tutoring, encouragement, extra-curricular activities and more. The university students take turns to volunteer and go out to the communities in the four districts on which they have focused. They raise money at times to buy food, school supplies and maybe a football or two so the children have a distraction. The volunteers increasingly notice that young girls, once they became of age, continued to increasingly miss school until they no longer bothered to attend. With Richard advancing in his studies of science and engineering, the thought of his sister still nagged at him. While visiting a village one day, he noticed the discarded stem of a banana tree, its bananas freshly plucked from it. These stems littered the roads and paths of these rural areas. Surely there had to be a use for them.
And with that thought, Richard and his group of friends, which had formally registered as SOVHEN, set their minds to finding a solution for these girls. They soon set upon developing a sanitary pad that is affordable and created from sustainable and bio-degradable materials. The discarded banana stem, when pressed and processed, provided an absorbent fiber that when placed into sheaths of special paper and shaped, could provide the solution to help keep girls in schools. As they refined the idea and tested prototypes, SOVHEN began soliciting partnerships that could support the roll out. Now after about four years of manufacturing the sanitary pads in SOVHEN’s rural facilities, SOVHEN has developed a distribution network that employs teams of women to sell the pads. These pads are readily distributed in the four rural districts of Uganda in which SOVHEN operates through a close-knit network of women who earn money by selling the pads. SOVHEN has also created employment in these rural districts by locating the banana stem processing and manufacturing facilities there so that local women and men are paid salaries for their work. The individuals that manufacture, distribute and sell Bana-pads go through extensive business development training and coaching. SOVHEN’s Bana-pads are not the sole source of income for these people, but by participating with SOVHEN, they are learning important skills that can translate into their own enterprises.
In addition to the work surrounding the development and manufacturing of the pad, SOVHEN is still active in its communities by providing additional services to orphans and the vulnerable. With a presence in these communities’ schools, SOVHEN raises awareness of the specific challenges girls face in their educational development. SOVHEN, working with other community groups, has been responsible for changing the attitudes surrounding girls as they become of age and reducing the stigma of the menstrual cycle. SOVHEN also works hand-in-hand with Uganda’s government to ensure its national strategies for youth unemployment and gender empowerment are fully implemented. In fact, representatives from the Ministry of Gender, Labour & Social Development had nothing but praise for SOVHEN’s efforts to keep girls in school while also creating employment with innovative, sustainable solutions.
SOVHEN directly impacts MDG 3 (gender equality) while also creating employment (MDG 1) and keeping girls in school (MDG 2). We’re proud to recognize SOVHEN for their work and hope you enjoy learning their story!
Dec 3rd, 2012 5:06 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Our next finalist for the 2012 ONE Africa Award is the dynamic organization Friends of the Global Fund Africa, or better known as Friends Africa. I visited Friends Africa in Lagos last month to hear their incredible story.
After serving as a technical advisor on Global Fund-financed projects in Nigeria for three years in the early 2000s, Dr. Akudo Ikemba realized that more needed to be done in order to ensure the effectiveness of Global Fund monies on the ground. She also saw an untapped need to raise awareness and support for the Global Fund amongst African citizens. When she saw some of the work being done by Friends of the Fight (USA) and Amis du Fonds Mondial and other Global Fund partners, she realized that Africa needed its own “Friends” that could bring governments, business leaders and citizens together to build support for the Global Fund and further its work by raising funds and commitments from African political and corporate leaders. At about the same time, the Global Fund invited Dr. Ikemba to discuss the formation of a partner organization for Africa and a few months later, Friends Africa officially opened its door in Lagos.
Since 2006, Friends Africa has been at the forefront of building and demonstrating African support for the Global Fund. It has raised commitments of $31 million through its Africa Champions from Health campaign, which enlists former heads of states and political leaders to call on African governments to support the the fund’s work. Through its Gift from Africa program, it has secured an additional $5 million from the private and corporate sectors for the Global Fund since 2010.
How does it do this? By strategically using former African heads of state, titans of business, and artists to engage governments and leading enterprises to obtain commitments for the Global Fund. As the developed world faces budget and fiscal crises, it is increasingly important for the developing world to not only support the work of institutions like the Global Fund, but also contribute to its functioning and financing. Friends Africa is doing just this.
Raising the funds and financing for an institution like the Global Fund, though, is just one side of the coin that is Friends Africa. In addition to its high level advocacy, Friends Africa is changing the face of the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis every day. They have extensive programs that are building capacity at local, national and regional levels to engage in advocacy and direct services in their communities. Moreover, Friends Africa is also leading the charge in engaging small to medium enterprises – not just corporate giants – on the policies they have in place for their employees facing these diseases. Friends Africa is truly leading an African response to an African problem, taking the fight to the board rooms and the store rooms of African businesses. To truly turn the tide against these killer diseases, Friends Africa has gone where many have yet to tread—to the enterprising leaders and employers of a bulk of Africa’s hardworking citizens. Friends Africa is not only funding the fight, but also changing the face of these diseases to reduce stigmatization and stereotypes.
And while high-level and grassroots advocacy is a big part of Friends Africa’s work, Friends also produces reports that policy makers and citizens can use around the continent. They are impacting the debates without necessarily being in the room, and leveraging a network of consultants to provide technical assistance to governments seeking funding for reproductive health and HIV projects. As one can see, Friends Africa not only advocates at all levels, but also provides its own substantive contribution to the ongoing struggle against these diseases.
Nov 16th, 2012 4:17 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 3:31 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!
Aug 3rd, 2012 3:26 PM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
We’re proud to announce that applications and nominations are now open for the 2012 ONE Africa Award. The annual ONE Africa Award (a $100,000 USD prize) seeks to recognize the Africa-driven, African-led advocacy efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals across Africa. We seek to particularly showcase innovative efforts and initiatives that have demonstrated success and impact at a community, national or regional level. By honoring the commitment and progress on the ground, we hope that new efforts can be inspired and more lives can be improved.
Now in its fifth year, the ONE Africa Award has been awarded to four outstanding organizations in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Togo over the past four years covering the breadth of development sectors: health & media; youth empowerment; good governance; and women’s rights. Moreover, the ONE Africa Award is unearthing many more effective organizations that we recognize as finalists. It’s an incredible challenge to choose the winner from amongst all the truly impressive and inspiring applications.
Representatives from GF2D, the 2011 ONE Africa Award winner, receive the prize at a ceremony in Johannesburg flanked by ONE staff and The Honorable Trevor Manuel, South Africa’s Minister for National Planning.
For that reason, it’s important to highlight the criteria we seek as we begin reviewing and judging the applications. The winner can be an individual, organization, or group involved in direct services in their home African country that directly work to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The winner may also be an advocacy group or think tank that engages in activities to hold their governments accountable. Regardless, the distinguishing trait is that the winner must have some innovative advocacy programs within their community and country that raise awareness of the MDGs and/or promotes the attainment of MDGs in their country. It’s important to note that ONE Africa Award seeks to reward African-led, African-driven efforts—which means that we look for winners that are based and registered in an African country and can demonstrate that its core and founding leadership are African citizens . More details about our scoring criteria can be found on the award page.
Over the next few months we hope to review and update our readership on our past winners and finalists, with a particular focus on the impact they are having in their communities. So stay tuned to the ONE Africa Blog as we post updates and tell the stories of the progress being made all over the continent.
We’re open for applications today and will receive them until 23:59 SAST / 21:59 GMT/UTC September 23. So let’s spread the word and find us some winning organizations!
Find out more on the ONE Africa Award website.
Mar 8th, 2012 11:53 AM UTC
By ONE Partners
Guest blog by Léontine Ayawovi Gbadégbégnon, Secretary-General of Togo’s Groupe de réflexion et d’action Femme, Démocratie and Développement (GF2D) – winners of the ONE Africa Award 2011 GF2D helps women in exercising their right to participate in decision making processes of their country.
International Women’s Day was founded to highlight the situation of women of all classes around the world. Billions of ordinary women – along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, International Monetary Fund Chief Christine Lagarde and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – are promoting their cause, and the women of the West African nation of Togo are making good progress.
Women have always played a vital role in our society. The “Nana Benz” (Benz Girls), named after their choice of car, left their mark on the economy when they got rich through the ingenious designs on the wax dresses they made exclusively in the 1950s. They were key supporters of the country’s independence movement.
Equal involvement of women in decision-making bodies was still far off when the GF2D organisation was founded in 1992 by a group of 30 women from many professions. The country was under one-party rule that made social and political life very difficult. But the courage and determination of GF2D’s founders, who wanted to ensure Togolese women had a special place when democracy emerged, produced countless remarkable achievements that bettered their legal and political status.
GF2D works to empower women by expanding their access to legislation. Paralegals (legal experts) are trained to make use of laws on the books that can help women, notably the Law on the Family and Individuals (CPF) and the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The paralegals are energetic women (and also men) who are devoted to their communities and aware of the lack of social equality between men and women. More than 700 have been trained throughout the country since 1994 and from six legal assistance centres, they mediate and settle problems of violence linked to gender, inheritance, marriage and divorce. They also speak on Radio Nana, a station run by and for women (and named after the Nana Benz) which broadcasts their advice nationwide.
Most of the paralegals are ordinary women — farmers, merchants, seamstresses, artisans, mothers, teachers and women elders — who are trained and then promote women’s rights and encourage gender equality in democratic governance.
Mawussi Toublou, a Lomé seamstress, is a GF2D paralegal. She makes brightly-coloured clothes with a manual sewing-machine in her small workshop, earning enough to live on and to buy petrol to drive around the capital and its suburbs to work as a paralegal. This energetic woman is also a trade-union organiser and trains people (men as well as women) to know their civil rights and duties.
Ama Kemeh, from a polygamous family, lived in a village where women were in an inferior position. Her experience growing up amid the discrimination, bullying and humiliation endured by women made her very bitter, resentful and rebellious and gave her a burning desire to change things. But she did not know how.
She gained confidence and hope after GF2D trained her as a paralegal in 1994, opening her eyes, and she resumed her studies with courage and determination. Less than seven years later she was a senior Togolese civil servant and for the past four has been a United Nations official in Togo.
The two women are not the only ones to have overcome discrimination and bullying to take their place as full citizens in their families and communities. Other women paralegals and women helped by them have become leaders in the communities too.
Paralegal Djomba Somtoua is fighting violence against women in the district she now administers, notably husbands chasing their wives out of the home. Other women paralegals advise their sisters about financial, economic and social issues to help them expand their access to microcredit.
Some have also started their own associations to achieve their goals more effectively, such as Anne Kpedji, who founded a women’s literacy group. Akuavi Odah, a paralegal in Atakpame, set up and now runs a savings and credit co-op with thousands of members.
As well as the paralegals, 190 rural women have been trained as community leaders and help run development committees in villages and neighbourhoods.
GF2D also provides civic and political education for women who want to go into local or national politics. About 100 of them contested the last parliamentary elections and more are preparing to stand in this year’s local and legislative elections.
More trained women have joined the country’s decision-making bodies thanks to GF2D’s efforts and Togo now has nine MPs (up from four) and seven government ministers (up from five).
GF2D continues trying to get even more women interested in social and political life. A woman, Kafui Brigitte Adjamagbo-Johnson, stood for president in 2010, a historic event in a still-complex social and political situation and such a male-dominated country. She stands as a model for all African women.
We hope 8 March, with its theme of “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty,” will be an occasion for all communities, villages, governments and people around the world to recognise and honour these women.
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