The sun was shining in Swansea for our third and final #SummerUndod2022
Sustainable Livelihoods was the central topic for the last of our regional networking events of the season, which took place on 15th July in the sunlit Swansea Grand Theatre.
Parts of Africa are facing serious issues: COVID-19 has led to economic, health and welfare crises; the effects of climate change are worsening; and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has sent fuel and food prices sky high.
So what are organisations and individuals doing to ensure that sustainable livelihoods are possible?
Tim Coggan, West Africa Programmes Coordinator at United Purpose, gave a presentation on his organisation’s work during the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa. United Purpose has funded a COVID response and vaccine preparedness project in Nigeria, Gambia, Senegal and Guinea, which encompassed healthcare and training, overcoming vaccine scepticism, helping to rebuild the economy and promoting sustainable economic growth. These projects reached an estimated 4.4 million people.
Communication was a big part of the project. To inform people about the spread of the coronavirus and to empower communities to stop it, United Purpose worked with the Nigerian musician Sunny Neji to produce the song “Together We Will Beat Coronavirus”, which was disseminated via the radio and social media.
Paul Lindeowood from Disability in Wales and Africa discussed how his organisation is fostering solidarity between deaf and disabled people in Wales and Africa. Its “Share Our Story” project, or #SOS, has shone a light on the differences and similarities between the experiences of such individuals and communities, and how people with disabilities in Africa are trying to change policies and behaviour in wider society.
In Kenya, for example, a group of diabled people were asked to monitor elections but encountered several accessibility issues. They approached a local organisation, which covered the costs of transporting individuals with disabilities to polling booths to vote. To date, #SOS has collected 30 stories Eastern Africa, Western Africa and Wales.
Paul Lindeowood from Disability in Wales and Africa delivers a presentation on “Share Our Story”
Janet Lowere from Bees for Development explained how beekeeping can reduce poverty, increase biodiversity and form sustainable livelihoods. From Ethiopia to Zimbabwe to Uganda, honey and beeswax produced by beekeepers has provided more and more stable sources of income. For farmers, beekeeping is becoming a useful form of diversification to offset increasing costs and uncertainties elsewhere caused by climate change and geopolitical events.
Janet shared the story of Steven, a Ghanaian man who trained as a beekeeper and now practices it full time. He has 450 colonies and keeps some of his bees in a nearby cashew orchard, which serves both him and the owner of the orchard, who needs the bees to pollinate the trees.
Elen Jones spoke about Jenipher’s Coffi, a social enterprise named after Jenipher Wettaka, vice-chair of the cooperative of farmers who work together on the slopes of Mount Elgon in eastern Uganda to produce this beautiful coffee. Climate change is affecting the region badly through mudslides that damage the soil and crops, threatening the future of coffee production.
The coffee is grown 100% Fairtrade and the premium ensures that Jenipher always receives a fair price despite market fluctuations. Initial funding for the enterprise came from the Welsh Government, which now supplies the coffee in its canteens and workplaces. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a change in Jenipher’s Coffi’s business model, however, with retail sales becoming much more important than wholesale. Suddenly, branding and packaging was needed so the coffee could be enjoyed in homes instead of offices.
Dr Krijn Peters
Dr Krijn Peters, Associate Professor of Politics, Philosophy and International Relations at Swansea University, gave a presentation on the challenges faced by rural communities in Liberia caused by poor infrastructure and a lack of roads. Healthcare is far away and school and markets are difficult to access, which negatively affects women and children in particular.
Through Swansea University, Krijn led Tracks for Progress: Mobility for Livelihoods in Rural Liberia, a project that researched the mobility needs of the area. Through community-driven decisionmaking, the project has helped to upgrade rural footpaths to motorcycle taxi tracks.
Fadhili Maghiya, CEO of Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel, and Altaf Hussain MS, Shadow Minister for Equalities at the Senedd, with Claire O’Shea, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa
After a break and a chance to network, Carol Adams of the Sub-Saharan Advisory Panel and Food Adventure chaired a panel discussion on sustainable livelihoods in Africa in the post-COVID-19 era.
[Read more about the Panel Discussion Session here]
We drew the evening to a close with delicious Nigerian food from Twale Cuisine and incredible music from Ify Iwobi and N’famady Kouyaté.
Five Key Learning Points:
- Diversification is a vital part of sustainable livelihoods, and will be even more important in the future
- Many people have the resources to create sustainable livelihoods but lack the necessary training
- Communities must be included in the planning of new projects that affect them, especially women, as they often have the most to gain
- Producers should have a platform to tell their own stories to consumers
- More funding is required to support long-term projects, including from within Wales
See more photos from this event in our Flickr album.