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A Pyramid Approach To Solving Lagos’ Waste Challenge

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Lagos, Nigeria

To solve Lagos’ waste challenge, Sahara Foundation has engaged key leaders, religious authorities and government representatives in each community, sensitising them on the urgent importance of proper waste disposal. They are in turn expected to spread the education to the rest of their communities, writes Solomon Elusoji

On a recent damp Thursday morning, elite residents of Ijora-Oloye, a slum community around west Africa’s busiest port in Lagos, converged on their town hall to talk about waste management. The community, with its network of weather-beaten roads and low, ramshackle houses was riddled with filth. Residents said the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and its retinue of trucks do not come into the community to collect waste, so they resorted to piling up rubbish in gutters, verandas and a nearby underbridge. This is a fairly common problem in Lagos; in 2017, a hiccup in the state’s waste management operations resulted into thousands of Lagosians dumping their waste on the streets, blocking major roads and polluting the air with repulsive smells.

The convener of the Ijora-Oloye meeting was Sahara Foundation, the CSR arm of Sahara Group, an energy conglomerate with business interest across 38 countries. The foundation said it is invested in, among other things, the environment and sustainable development, and wants to turn the community into a recycling hub. “We have an office here (Ijora-Oloye),” Director for Governance and Sustainability at Sahara Group, Pearl Uzokwe, said, “and we’ve looked around and realised there is a waste management problem”.

Sahara’s plan to clean up the community by engaging the key influencers – community leaders, religious authorities, government representatives – in the community, sensitising them on the urgent importance of proper waste disposal. Sahara Foundation’s Manager, Oluseyi Ojurongbe described it as “a mindset orientation”.

The influencers are then expected to spread the education to the rest of the community. “We have town criers who can go round and inform others”, a Baale of the community, Tajuden Igbalaye, who attended the Thursday meeting, said. What Sahara is doing “is a very good program, we want them to do more”.

Apart from sensitising, Sahara is also partnering two environment companies, EcoPrune and Pearl Recycling, to train the community on how to collect, sort and package waste products for delivery, which can then be exchanged for healthcare services. But they are starting with one person in the community, who is set to become a certified upcycler. “The person is supposed to cascade the training down to other members of the community”, Ojurongbe said. “It’s like a pyramid”.

Sahara Group in partnership with Ecoprune during the inaugural exercise in Ijora, Lagos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Changing World

Climate Change is transforming the world. The United Nations has described it as “the defining issue of our time”. The oceans are warming and ice packs in Antartica are melting, but the quantity of greenhouse gases in the environment, due to intensive industrialisation and deforestation, continues to rise. The future of planet earth is at stake.

The problem, however, is that the rise of greenhouse gases is inextricably tied to better lives for more people across the world. No government wants to stop building houses or making cars to save the earth. But by reducing and reusing components of production, experts believe the significant increase in global warming can be arrested.

Lagos, perhaps west Africa’s most cosmopolitan city, generates about 13,000 metric tonnes of waste daily. But most of it is not properly disposed, talk less of recycled. When it rains, people dump their refuse in flowing gutters, inadvertently blocking drainages, leading to massive flooding. Sometimes, most parts of the state resembles an abandoned landfill.

To tackle the problem, droves of environmental startups have been founded offering innovative approaches, but government intervention remains key. The city’s immediate past administration introduced the ambitious Cleaner Lagos Initiative (CLI) to provide an all-encompassing solution, but the program failed to get traction.

Meanwhile, corporate organisations like Sahara are also weighing in. This June, the group launched its Green Life project, a social responsibility initiative that seeks to contribute to solving problems related to climate change, including Lagos’s perennial waste problem.

Also Read UN Economic Commission for Africa kicks off National Seminar in Lagos

Committed for the Long Run

At the Thursday meeting, Ecoprune’s Co-founder, Sandra Onwuekwe, delivered a presentation before the community representatives. She linked the locals’ arbitrary disposal of waste to flooding and ill-health. She also displayed a variety of recyclable waste products, such as plastics and cartons, then reminded them about the healthcare services they could receive. Later, founder of Pearl Recycling, Olamide Ayeni-Babajide, gave a similar speech, too.

It is not yet clear how successful the healthcare incentive will be but a similar scheme in Ajegunle by Africa Cleanup Initiative, which allowed people to exchange plastics for educational services, has been deemed successful.

Cleaning exercise in partnership with Ecoprune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ojurongbe said one way the foundation will track progress is by measuring the number of trips being made to the community’s healthcare centre and determining how much flooding has been curbed in the area.

After the Thursday meeting ended, members of the Sahara Group and its environmental partners rolled up their sleeves and picked up rakes to clean up parts of the Ijora-Oloye community.

“This is not going to be a one-off, it is going to be continuous,” the Sahara sustainability chief, Uzokwe, said. “We look at it as something that can be built on. It is just the beginning. So we are looking for partners and collaborators. We believe we can’t do it alone, but we will not stand on the sidelines.”

Credit: THISDAY

NGOs - SDGs

Kudoti, South African Recycling Platform recognised as one of the global winners of the Nestlé’s 2021 Creating Shared Value Prize

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Kudoti Co-Founder, Matthieu de Gaudemar (Image: Medium)

Kudoti, South African recycling company, was announced in the top five winners of Nestlé 2021 Creating Shared Value (CSV) Prize, for their innovative recycling impact through technology.

The CSV Prize has been running for over 10 years and has identified multiple initiatives for some of today’s most critical environmental and social issues around the world. This year’s competition, conducted in partnership with the non-profit organization, Ashoka, was entitled ‘How do we create a waste-free future?’,  It aimed to identify and award innovative solutions with a system-change approach and a strong growth potential, or a replicable model for other social, cultural or geographical settings.

Kudoti (meaning trash in Zulu) is changing business perspectives of waste into recovered materials through supply chain solutions.  The company’s digital approach helps track recyclable waste in real-time and matching it to demand. The use of technology improves market conditions for waste materials, which drives up recycling behaviour.

Matthieu de Gaudemar, one of the founders of Johannesburg-based Kudoti, expressed gratitude to Nestlé and Ashoka for this CSV initiative. “Businesses and individuals have a concept of waste as waste, when we should have a concept of waste as a resource.  With new business models, we can change the way that waste is viewed.”

De Gaudemar adds that their platform’s success was collective team effort. “It truly takes everyone to address systemic environmental issues. Through this financial investment and technical resources, we will amplify our impact by scaling up our solution in South Africa.”

“When people speak of the future, a world of hover crafts or holograSaint-Francis Tohlangms may come to mind. But at Nestlé, we are seeking a more environmentally futuristic landscape. Through these  Awards, we are on a mission to identify and empower market disruptors in the hope of accelerating a waste-free future”, says Saint-Francis Tohlang, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR).

As one of the winners, Kudoti will receive a cash prize of $40 000 and will benefit from Ashoka’s online resources and workshops to explore potential collaboration with Nestlé and a mentoring programme.

“Innovations such as Kudoti not only help reduce waste but also drive consumer behaviour change which is key to achieving a waste free future and takes us closer to a circular economy”, concluded Tohlang.

By Weber Shandwick

 

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NGOs - SDGs

Doing Good Work in Africa Marks Its First Anniversary of Supporting Students and Impacting Future Growth in Africa

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Doing Good Work in Africa (DOWA), a non-profit initiative designed to connect students in the United States to African-based entities focused on providing scalable solutions to commonplace challenges, celebrated its first anniversary in April. Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, friends Ola Erogbogbo and Emiola Abass, co-founded a program that generated 400 applications and placed ten students at three partner companies within two months. In just one year, DOWA placed 27 students and conducted seven educational webinars with over 400 attendees from over 17 countries.

“DOWA seeks to provide a path to ‘brain gain’ by attracting US students (African and non-African) to the continent through internships. The premise is that the solution to Africa’s problems must come from within, supported by human and capital investments across the globe.” said Erogbogbo.

DOWA connects students with internship opportunities allowing them to work on socio-economic projects and experience the African culture and corporate environment. Students can take advantage of this unique experience through grants and scholarships funded by some universities. Matching the students with partner companies is accomplished through a rigorous application process, provided at no cost to the students. DOWA’s partner companies and organizations address challenges in healthcare, education, agriculture and champion growth initiatives in technology, artificial intelligence, and power generation in Africa.

“We are proud of our partnership with DOWA – we had two interns work on geospatial AI-powered education technology in low resourced environments. These engaged students’ contributions will help further our goal to raise one million AI talents” said Bayo Adekanmbi, Founder at Data Science Nigeria.

Liam Casey, a Venture Capital Fellow at Funema, said, “My experience has helped narrow down career goals and interests in impact investment and venture capital for emerging markets.”

DOWA is intentional in partnering with organizations that have a shared mission to work on initiatives that further the advancement of Africa. Erogbogbo further said, “DOWA believes that the challenges we face on the continent present opportunities, and thus, connecting students to companies working to address these challenges can result in more effective solutions.”

DOWA was launched with the help of founding supporters that include Scholars in Our Society and Africa (SOSA) at Cornell University and Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM). With over 300% participation growth and thanks to its growing network of partner companies, DOWA for the 2021/2022 internship cycles is projected to provide internship opportunities to 70 students from over 20 schools, including five Ivy League colleges.

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GSMA Report Reveals The Gender Gap In Mobile Internet Use Is Shrinking, Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

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GSMA Report: An estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet last year across low- and middle-income countries, despite the onset of COVID-19, according to the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report published today.

Nevertheless, 234 million fewer women than men access mobile internet. Moreover, the underlying gender gap in mobile ownership persists and is proving difficult to close.

Affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills, and lower awareness of mobile internet are critical and common barriers for women. Structural inequalities in society and discriminative social norms also remain a challenge. Even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy, and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet.

The report further revealed that a record number of women in South Asia now use mobile internet services, helping shrink the gender gap to 15% from 19% last year in low- and middle-income countries.

The gains in South Asia, which had the most significant gender gap in 2019 with women 50% less likely than men to use mobile internet, masked the stagnation in other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Women in both regions now face a similar gender gap in mobile internet use – 37% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 36% in South Asia.

Women were more likely than men to access the internet exclusively via mobile in almost all markets surveyed. In Kenya, for example, 63% of male internet users said they only used the internet via a mobile device compared to 79% of females. This reliance by women on mobile demonstrates the disproportionate benefit of increasing their access.

“If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, of the GSMA. “I urge policymakers, the private sector and the international community to take note of the important findings laid out in the Mobile Gender Gap Report because only concerted action and collaboration will enable women and their families to reap the full benefits of connectivity.”

The GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyse action to close the mobile gender gap. Mobile operators continued to make commitments during 2020, with 40 mobile operators across Africa, Asia and Latin America making formal commitments to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women since 2016. These operators have already reached more than 40 million additional women with mobile internet or mobile money services.

The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021 is available at: https://www.gsma.com/r/gender-gap/ 

Further information on the Connected Women Commitment Initiative can be found at: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/connected-women/the-commitment/

 

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