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UN, African Development Bank, Encourage African countries to join UN international water management body

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The African Development Bank and the United Nations Water Convention have agreed to jointly encourage African countries to join the UN water management organization to promote integrated and sustainable management of surface and groundwater resources.

The move follows a visit by a delegation from the UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, (also known as the United Nations Water Convention) to the African Development Bank headquarters in Abidjan, on Friday, 12 April 2019.

The delegation briefed senior officials of the Bank about the activities of the body and recommended that the Bank’s clients join the Convention. They also explored opportunities to strengthen cooperation – at the continental level and in specific basins and regions across Africa – between the Convention and the Bank.

Describing water as a “crucial, strategic natural resource for all countries, ” Wambui Gichuri, Director of the Bank’s Water Development and Sanitation department added that while Africa is endowed with abundant water resources, it is also the second driest continent, with two great deserts, the Sahara and the Kalahari, located in its northern and southern regions respectively. “Drinking water supply and sanitation, food production, energy supply, and industrial development are all completely dependent on the availability of water,” Gichuri said.

In her presentation to the Bank team, Francesca Bernardini, Secretary of the Water Convention, said that the body aims to promote the sustainable management of transboundary waters through cooperation and partnership. “The Convention and its activities are consistent with the African Development Bank’s water sector strategy, particularly supporting the Bank’s Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policy across all levels of water needs in its operations,” Bernardini said.

According to Bernadini, the benefits of membership of the UN Water Convention include increased sustainability of regional and cooperation projects, and reduction of investment risks typically occasioned by the long-term nature of development programs and initiatives, through legally binding commitments made by parties to the convention. Several activities carried out under the Convention also help to strengthen countries’ capacity for water management and boost the effectiveness of the Bank’s interventions in the long-term.

Mahamat Alifa Moussa, General Director at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Fisheries of Chad was part of the delegation to the Bank. Chad, a landlocked West African nation, was the first African country to sign the Convention.

Moussa observed that in view of the cross-border nature of most of Chad’s water resources, the nation favoured international cooperation to help manage its resources. The global opening of the Water Convention in 2016 to membership for non-European countries was therefore Chad’s opportunity to strengthen cooperation on these shared water resources, he said.

“Faced with the risk of conflicts over water use between Chad and riparian countries, the needs of development, increased individual needs, population growth and to plan for the future by conserving natural environments and biodiversity, Chad has resolved to promote integrated and sustainable management of surface water resources and groundwater,” Moussa said.

The Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes was negotiated in 1990-1992 through an intergovernmental process under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

Since 2016, membership to the UN Water Convention has been opened up to all United Nations Member States. So far, 44 countries have ratified the Water Convention, six of which are non-European nations.

African Development Bank

NGOs - SDGs

Climate Launchpad: Beyond competition, a catalyst for change

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Climate Launchpad Competition 2023 Image.

Despite the success of The Climate Launchpad Competition 2023, Climate Launchpad through the support of Climate-KIC and Irish Aid provided additional support to the participants of the competition through the Post-Climate Launchpad Accelerator. Given that the majority of the participants are early-stage businesses, capacity building is a necessity. The post-competition support is divided into 2, The masterclasses that are being handled by the Climate Launchpad Global team which has participants from over 7 African countries, and The national capacity-building session handled by the Climate LaunchPad Nigeria Team. 

The Masterclass session featured a business-changing session on important modules like funding options & Instruments, Gender and Climate, Communications and Storytelling, Climate Impact etc.  The national capacity-building session focuses on marketing strategies, practical and optimal use of social media and analytics. As an early-stage business in Nigeria, one of the major challenges you face is reaching and communicating with your potential customers at the market entry stage. The modules were selected after feedback from alumni of the competition. 

The modules have been proven to be useful as we have started seeing the tractions of the businesses on social media. Overall, the post-competition support program has been no short of helpful to the businesses. We had 5 active participants from Nigeria who have expressed their gratitude for the post-competition support. Each of them will be given a grant of EUR200 to facilitate their marketing and social media usage.

The National Lead for Climate Launchpad Nigeria, Oluwatosin Ajide affirms the importance of the accelerator program “If we have more competition dedicating their support beyond just the pitching like Climate Launchpad does, We would have more green businesses with solid foundations”. He also thanked the Climate Launchpad central team and the sponsors the Climate-KIC and Irish Aid for their constant support in building the green ecosystem in Nigeria.

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GEANCO Foundation and Archewell Foundation Announce Mental Health Initiative for Nigerian Youth

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The GEANCO Foundation and The Archewell Foundation has announced an expansion of their partnership, currently serving girls and young women across Nigeria with menstrual health products and education, to include mental health resources and training for young men and women. 

This expanded partnership kicked off with its inaugural Mental Health Summit, taking place over two days and serving nearly 200 students in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and co-Founders of The Archewell Foundation opened the Summit by delivering inspiring remarks to the young people in attendance.

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GEANCO intends to hold summits throughout the country over the next year, providing teenage girls and boys with the information, skills, and coping mechanisms necessary to flourish mentally.

“Youth in Nigeria are critically underserved in terms of mental and menstrual health”, said GEANCO’s CEO Afam Onyema.  “I am deeply grateful to The Duke and Duchess for partnering with us to address this crisis and provide this vulnerable but inspiring young generation with what they need to thrive in body, mind and spirit.”  

A strong stigma also surrounds mental health in Nigeria, which is critically neglected in the country. The World Health Organization estimates that only 3% of the federal government’s health budget goes to mental health, and while up to one-third of Nigerians have mental health challenges, fewer than 500 mental health professionals serve the country’s 200 million plus citizens.  Nigeria’s teens and youth in particular have little to no access to mental health support.

The expanded partnership will also continue the ongoing work to support young girls with menstrual health products and education. An estimated 37 million women and girls in Nigeria experience “period poverty”, meaning they are unable to access or afford menstrual products like pads, tampons, and underwear. Because of the material difficulties caused by period poverty and the deep stigma surrounding menstruation, millions of girls in the country miss school every month, crippling their educational advancement and deepening Nigeria’s already vast levels of gender inequality.

GEANCO Foundation provides critical health care and education services in Nigeria. Its David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship provides full tuition, medical care, and social and emotional support to young female victims of terrorism and gender inequality in Nigeria.

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Laila Bastati on the importance of diversity in shaping Africa’s future

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Laila Bastati, Chief Commercial Officer, APO Group (Source: APO Group)

As we observe International Women’s Month with the theme of ‘Inspire Inclusion,’ it is essential to contemplate the importance of diversity within organizations and its crucial role in shaping a more equitable and inclusive society. This year’s theme calls on us to inspire others to understand and value women’s inclusion, not just for the benefit of women but for the advancement of the African continent. 

Women across Africa face unique challenges, from cultural barriers to limited access to resources and opportunities. However, despite these difficulties, they continue to defy the odds, breaking barriers, and making significant contributions to their communities and economies. As we recognise such achievements, it’s crucial to underline the importance of promoting the role of women in driving more diverse, competitive, and future-looking workspaces.

“At APO Group, we’re proud of our extremely diverse team of professionals from all over the world. The diversity we see in age, gender, locations, backgrounds, and experience all combines to forge a formidable team that brings the best of APO Group to our clients. In an industry that has achieved, in recent years, a good gender balance, we strive to lead by example, leveraging our platform to advocate for broader gender equality and diversity initiatives, aiming to inspire other organizations to follow suit.” said Laila Bastati, Chief Commercial Officer, APO Group.

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“For us, such diversity reflects a leadership that values and promotes the unique perspectives and contributions of women, at all levels of the organisation. It also clearly demonstrates that we’re an organisation that values inclusivity and equality, and that the different voices and ideas of our team reflect a unique understanding of the African markets in which we operate. The result of being firm proponents of an environment in which all contributions are valued, and where collaboration is part of our culture, is that innovation and creativity come naturally.” Laila Bastati Added.

The importance of embracing diversity

Embracing diversity, especially gender diversity, is essential for any organization aiming to create a balanced, fair, and dynamic working environment.There’s no doubt that for any type of organisation, embracing diverse perspectives and expertise, highlighting achievements and success stories, and advocating for equal opportunities and recognition, are all aspects that contribute to a more equitable and inclusive environment where everyone has the chance to succeed based on merit and talent. 

Successful companies intentionally cultivate diverse leadership at all levels. While this may initially appear coincidental, the process of building diverse teams is a deliberate and strategic endeavour that underscores a commitment to creating spaces where women’s leadership and insights drive innovation and strategic decision-making.

What makes a diverse team?

Firstly, promoting diversity in leadership is crucial. Actively recruiting, developing, and promoting the right female candidates into leadership positions ensures women’s perspectives are represented at the decision-making table. Secondly, reviewing and revising policies to ensure they are gender-neutral and promote equal opportunities for all employees is essential. Thirdly, providing equal access to training, mentorship, and career advancement opportunities, with a particular focus on supporting women, is key.

Additionally, creating a supportive work environment and nurturing a culture of inclusion where all employees feel valued, respected, and supported is paramount. Regularly monitoring and evaluating diversity metrics to track progress and identify areas for improvement is also important. Finally, embracing a culture of work meritocracy where individuals are recognised and rewarded based on their skills, contributions, and performance, rather than on gender, race, or other characteristics, completes the foundation of a diverse team.

In the context of this special period of the year, I urge organizations across Africa to recognize and harness the unique strengths women bring to the table, not only to promote gender equity, but to ensure these organizations will continue to have a place in the workspace of tomorrow.

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