Oliver Griffith, is a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (Image: Oliver Griffith)
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading causes of global warming, responsible for about 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The recent COP-26 recognized this with a pledge to stop deforestation by 2030. But how will we get there?
Can we in the North tell developing countries not to cut down their forests because we need them as carbon sinks to slow down climate change? Not without some form of compensation. They’re desperate for economic growth and have a right to use their resources.
European countries cut down their trees centuries ago for the same reasons. And the US now emits over 15 metric tons of CO2 per capita, almost eight times as much as the average sub-Saharan country. The same people who lecture developing countries are the ones who drive SUVs. And consume the soy-fed beef and palm oil that contribute to deforestation. We need a reality check.
Why not just buy all those rainforests and turn them into national parks to preserve them as the world’s lungs? Not a bad idea, and it’s worked in some places, but what if there are people living in the forests and contributing to their demise? Population pressure, subsistence farming, and fuel wood and charcoal making account for about half of tropical forest loss, while commercial agriculture, logging, and more recently climate disasters, account for the rest. So, the obvious solution is to lessen these activities.
Since at least half of deforestation is linked to rich world consumption patterns, an important step is to change these. There are encouraging signs, but the growing middle classes in developing countries want to live well too. And how can we tell a family just escaping poverty that they shouldn’t have modern conveniences or eat beef? Changing habits and the economic models that sustain them won’t be easy.
Tackling deforestation on the ground is an indispensable adjunct. It should involve giving indigenous inhabitants title to the lands they have sustainably used for centuries. Creating family planning programs to ease demographic pressure, and finding sustainable livelihoods for forest dwellers. And governments must cut subsidies for unsustainable forest activities and improve environmental laws and forest management.
Since the primary drivers of deforestation are economic, we must find economic solutions, making the trees more valuable standing than cutting down. Among the most effective and far reaching is the United Nations’ REDD+ program. It Reduces Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation by selling carbon credits based on verified emission reductions in forests. The proceeds are used to help the forest communities find more sustainable livelihoods and improve their standards of living. By harnessing market-based economic mechanisms for an economic problem. It may have the greatest chance of success among the many initiatives with the same goals.
A crucial component is gaining influence in the decision-making process for land use, which is challenging in the countries where most tropical forests are located. It requires international encouragement, such as through COP-26, and local policy reforms. At the same time we need quick action on the ground where deforestation is happening.
The results so far are encouraging. Studies of REDD+ projects worldwide have found that they reduce deforestation while improving the lives of forest dwellers. Moreover, REDD+ has increased the awareness and commitment of governments and the private sector on the importance of forest preservation. Pinpointed commercial agriculture as a driver of deforestation, and provided a platform to secure land rights. It’s not a magic bullet and must be combined with activism against polluting companies in the global North, but it’s a good start.
Oliver Griffith recently visited two REDD+ projects run by Wildlife Works, a private conservation company. The Kasigau Corridor Project in Kenya, which was the first REDD+ project to be verified by the two main REDD+ standards (VCS, CCBA) in 2011, and the ERA-Congo Project in Mai Ndombe province in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). What impressed me was not just the slowing down of deforestation. But the positive socio-economic effects of the substantial funds flowing into these poor regions from the sale of carbon credits.
In the Kasigau Corridor area, wherever you turn there are community projects, from schools and clinics to handicrafts cooperatives, water tanks, pumps, and farming cooperatives. In fact, Wildlife Works facilities are far more visible than those of the local or national governments.
In Mai Ndombe the impact is even more dramatic. The 180,000 residents in the isolated forest communities in the 300,000-hectare project area lack just about everything – health care, education, electricity, running water, and adequate nutrition. Once again, the community-based Wildlife Works projects are popping up everywhere, and are already reaching over 50,000 people, taking the place of underfunded state services. That this is happening in the DRC, and with relatively efficient support from the government, is even more remarkable.
Time will tell if such projects are sustainable in the long term. It would be better if developing governments took on these tasks themselves, and rich countries finally fulfilled their promises to drastically cut emissions. However, this is wishful thinking so, given the urgency of deforestation, we need viable alternatives such as REDD+.
Article By: Oliver Griffith, a former US Diplomat and World Bank Group (IFC) official with 35 years in foreign affairs. Much of it devoted to Africa and economic affairs.
Johns Hopkins Faith Adole is Giving Back to Africa
Johns Hopkins University trained Faith Adole is a healthcare executive and entrepreneur paasionate about healthcare advocacy, public health and inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. In this exclusive with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online(BAO), Faith talks about her foundation, interventions in Africa and passion for improving healthcare access to underserved communities around the globe. Excerpts.
Faith Adole is a trained nurse practitioner, healthcare executive, and entrepreneur. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer and founder of U-VOL Foundation, Inc. A servant leader, Faith is passionate about inspiring African nurses and midwives to lead in global health settings. She is committed to health care advocacy and bridging the gaps in existing health care and wellness needs for less privileged communities throughout the world, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Faith was inspired to start the U-VOL Foundation after volunteering in several international medical outreaches within Africa and seeing firsthand the poor health/hygiene practices, preventable health illnesses and even deaths in many disadvantaged and rural societies. Faith also noticed the existing inequities in Global Health delivery within Africa with a notable lack of Global Health leadership by African women as well as by those within the nursing profession.
As an African in diaspora, and as Nurse Executive with multiple years of field-based experience, Faith brings a fresh and dynamic approach to leading in the Community and Global Health sectors. Faith is currently completing her doctoral studies in Nursing as well as an MBA at Johns Hopkins University.
Inspiration behind U-Vol and what it’s set to achieve
U-VOL Foundation (United Vessels of Love Foundation) is a registered international non-profit healthcare foundation transforming lives one community at a time. Through its mission to help meet the unmet healthcare and wellness needs of vulnerable societies. This is done through medical outreach, health education, WASH and other healthcare sustainability initiatives.
The organization emphasizes love and care for all humanity through its global partnerships, its healthcare initiatives and through healthcare advocacy. U-VOL’s vision is to build dynamic relationships and partnerships with people, communities, and organizations to create global healthcare and wellness initiatives to lessen existing healthcare disparities worldwide.
Recent projects, challenges, funding and impact
Since 2015, Faith alongside U-VOL’s volunteer teams have embarked on successful international medical missions in Nigeria and in South Africa. As well as multiple domestic health and wellness domestic outreaches with the United States.
Under Faith’s leadership, her team has successfully launched a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH) in Nigeria in 2021. And recently concluded a solar powered clean water borehole project. The recent water project provided a sustainable source of clean water for 1700 people in Obi LGA of Benue State, Nigeria. Before the borehole, residents had zero access to clean water and frequented a local stream within the village called Orowu. Which dries up seasonally and gets contaminated easily during the rainy season as the same water source is used for multiple uses. This intervention will help to lessen the burden of preventable water-borne disease through harnessing a clean and long-lasting energy source.
Water Project video HERE
U-VOL’s borehole intervention swiftly follows a medical mission in the same Obi community, where a team of medical volunteers treated over 600 people. The recent medical mission and clean water project was powered by volunteers, public and private support, and a local project management team. Through skillful planning, efficient operations, strategic partnerships, thought leadership, and perseverance, Faith has been able to overcome challenges that come from influencing positive change within the African health sector despite various obstacles.
Your view on the health sector in Nigeria and Africa
“The truth is, there is so much opportunity for Africans within the diaspora and for those within the continent to collaborate for long lasting impact and change. I love the saying, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go further, go together’. It’s high time Africans begin to write their own narrative and leverage on the knowledge, skills, resources and influence within the continent as well as in the diaspora. Collaboration and unity will help us move forward. This is because we need both dialogue and action.
We need various stakeholders at multiple levels as well as diversity and inclusion of thoughts and hands. Community development and relief organizations are still relevant and have their place but it will take all of us to truly impact healthcare in the long term, through advocacy, healthcare policy, legislation, research, technology, education development, infrastructure, job creation and through many other avenues.”
Finally, your plans for the year
U-VOL plans to continue expanding its newly launched Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program. Which is targeted at empowering and advocating for vulnerable rural communities throughout various parts of Nigeria. The organisation hopes to help aid both governmental and other NGO efforts to eradicate open defecation, provide health promotion education activities on hygiene and sanitation, and promote the construction of public toilet facilities.
Saibatu Mansaray Speaks On Breaking The Bias
Saibatu Mansaray is a former White House Senior Executive, US Army Major (Rtd) and Medical Practitioner. Saibatu Mansaray speaks with Business Africa Online (BAO) on her thoughts on this year’s international women’s day theme: #BreakingTheBias. Excerpt.
As an African and Muslim woman who moved to the United States at 20 years of age and immediately joined the United States Army. I understand the bias I carried with me into a foreign land and the military. Everyday, questioning myself given my background. But my determination to overcome my self-imposed bias and that of those around me, pushed me to over perform and prove that I am supposed to be here and will leave a mark. I got system support in the military as a woman to compete and complete military training courses that were mostly male dominated. I remember being in a few extremely challenging military courses with very high attrition rates. But upon graduation I was the only woman standing alongside the men.
In my determination to always overperform in order to break the bias and glass ceilings. I was the first woman the U.S. Army had ever assigned to the White House. To serve as White House Physician Assistant and Tactical Medical Officer to President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden. I was the first woman to be promoted early to the rank of Major as a physician assistant. I was the first medical officer and to date the only to serve as military aide to two Vice Presidents of the United States. In my own small way I created a gender equal world during my service in the military and continue to do so as CEO and Founder of The Mansaray Foundation. “Together we can all break the bias!”
Saibautu Mansaray is former White House senior executive, a physician assistant, CEO and Founder of The Mansaray Foundation. A Muslimah and retired decorated United States Army Officer. After over 20 years of humble service in the United States, she has chosen to return to Sierra Leone to make a difference.
Dr. Adama Kalokoh, Founder of Impact Sierra Leone on Breaking The Bias
Dr. Adama Kalokoh (Image: Supplied)
Dr. Adama Kalokoh, Founder of Impact Sierra Leone shared her thoughts with Business Africa Online on #BreakingTheBias.
“This theme resonates with me so deeply because we all deserve a seat at the table. It does not stop there, we also deserve the right for our voices to be respectfully heard in and out of the boardroom. The time is now for the world to recognize that gender equality is not an option but an absolute necessity.
As a proud descendant of Sierra Leone, West Africa and founder of Impact Sierra Leone organization. I have insight on gender issues both in the United States and in West Africa. There seems to be a common factor between the two regions in terms of far less opportunities for women as compared to men. The playing field has yet to be leveled because we see too often that a woman’s skills or experiences are considered less important than her gender.
As a global leader, I join in the fight against injustices, stereotypes, discrimination and inhumanity. Due to gender by promoting empowerment programs by empowering other women to have a voice. We are impacting the future generation of leaders who will ensure a world of inclusiveness and equality where all are valued. It is quite remarkable to see the various events planned to celebrate International Women’s Day with such a powerful theme.
My personal view is that the chains of bias must be broken in every facet in life from the medical field, political field, business field, and career fields but most especially globally. There needs to be a total mindset shift to eradicate the notion that women are inferior. Women’s equality will be the driving force to more positive change in the world.
The poet Maya Angelou penned a powerful poem titled, “Phenomenal Woman” and indeed this is true. The fight for women inclusion must never end and needs to be championed by every citizen. Breaking the bias must happen at every level from the executive office to the most remote village in rural West Africa. We need more awareness, resources and policies set in place. And this can be done via training workshops, women’s equality groups, social media platforms and within the workplace.
Much like how we won the war on slavery and overcame many setbacks from the Civil Rights Movement. We can win the war on Women’s Inequality and do it Together. To leave you with my favorite quote, “United We Stand, Together We Rise”.
Let us stand up, raise our voices, take action and join forces to erase gender inequality worldwide.”