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The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa
invites you to join us for a special briefing


The Honorable Amara Konneh
Minister of Planning and Development
Government of the Republic of Liberia

The Honorable Augustine K. Ngafuan
Minister of Finance
Government of the Republic of Liberia

Discussant: Pearl Alice Marsh, Ph.D.
Senior Democratic Foreign Affairs Staff Member
House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Moderator: Bernadette Paolo, Esq.
President and CEO, The Africa Society

The Honorable Amara Konneh, Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs, and
the Honorable Augustine K. Ngafuan, Liberia’s Minister of Finance, will be in Washington
to discuss the economic, political, and social gains in Liberia as well as the continued
challenges the country faces. The Ministers will pay special attention to the
upcoming National elections in October of 2011.

Date: Tuesday May 24, 2011
Time: 2:00-3:00pm
Venue: Capitol Hill
2255 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

To RSVP, please provide your name and affiliation to
Aisha Nzibo at anzibo@africasummit.org or call 202-232-3862

 Energy Efficient Stoves Make Impact on Ugandan Environment


The worldwide effort to reduce carbon emissions is having a profound effect on the type of stoves used in Uganda. Carbon financing has allowed on small company to produce and provide efficient cooking stoves to Ugandans, saving money, resources and the environment. Ugastove, a thriving producer of energy efficient stoves based in Kampala, has provided over 300,000 homes with their product. The stoves “have a thick clay lining that holds in the heat of burning charcoal and cooks food more efficiently…[and] use only half as much fuel as conventional stoves, saving a family the equivalent of 80 dollars a year.” The stove’s reduced charcoal usage is also making a significant impact on the environment as “more than 98 percent of Ugandans rely on charcoal or firewood as an energy source.” A reduction in the consumption of these resources has the potential so save “tens of thousands of hectares of trees.”


Although the promise of more efficient stoves is great, Ugastove has had to find creative ways to overcome the challenges of selling a more expensive product to those with limited resources. Although a more efficient stove saves the user a significant amount in fuel costs, many household find it difficult or impossible to make the initial investment – a Ugastove costs about $26 (US) while a more traditional stove sells for only 2 US dollars. The company has begun to overcome this difficulty by finding support from carbon finance or “credit for the emissions reductions” to make the stoves more affordable. A nonprofit organization, “Impact Carbon,” which “specializes in quantifying emissions reductions and developing business models” for carbon reduction projects responded to the call and has aided Ugastove in selling carbon credits for its work. After successfully meeting Impact Carbon’s requirements, including “monthly and quarterly spot-checks on the sales, production, inventory records of Ugastoves…[as well as] quarterly kitchen surveys in households which use Ugastove to determine the stove’s fuel efficiency in the kitchen conditions,” the company has gained recognition from the Gold Standard Foundation which “operates a certification scheme for carbon credits” and has allowed the company to begin selling carbon credits to international corporations.


Ugastove has now sold credits to the luxury car manufacturer, Land Rover, at a rate of “nine dollars for every ton of CO2 offset by one of their units.” The company has been able to significantly increase production and lower the costs of the stoves to eight dollars with the money gained from selling the carbon credits. This is not to mention the offset of the emissions generated by Land Rovers which can be achieved by provided two families with the more efficient stoves for every one vehicle on the road. Many Ugastove users are also happy with the new efficient stoves which allow them to save money on fuel costs after the initial investment. Less fuel consumption is also saving the country’s forests as the demand for wood and other biomass decreases.


Reference: Michael, Wambi. "Stoves Saving On Fuel to Save Forests." Inter Press Service. AllAfrica.com, 16 May 2011. Web. <http://allafrica.com/stories/201105161842.html>.


Additional Information

An article from the UN titled “World’s poorest countries better placed for transition to green economy – UN report”: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=38317&Cr=least+developed&Cr1=

A short documentary on the impact of Energy Efficient Stoves: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd9ynVHAIFM

An Article from Pambazuka News titled “The Hype Versus the Reality of Carbon Markets”: http://allafrica.com/stories/201105130703.html



Discussion Questions

1.       Who do you think benefits the most from projects like this?

2.       Do you think the initial investment of more energy efficient and environmentally friendly products is a deterrent for their use? Is this true for rich communities, poor communities or both? Can you think of any creative ways to offset the initial cost?

3.       Is the responsibility to reduce carbon emissions on more developed countries or developing countries? Can an appropriate and fair partnership be reached?

 Humanitarianism and Capitalism find Harmony in Ghana

One company in Ghana has recently discovered that fighting malaria and increasing worker productivity go hand in hand. Throughout the world, Malaria “kills almost 800, 000 adults and children worldwide, 90% of them in Africa” yet is a totally preventable and curable disease when the appropriate medication is available. These deplorable figures are in addition to the estimated cost of “$12 billion annually in lost productivity” due to malaria plaguing the African workforce. AngloGold Ashanti, a gold mining and marketing company based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has shifted their malaria policy from reactionary to preventative in an attempt to increase worker productivity. Their program targets malaria prevention not only for their own employees, but for the entire community. Their efforts have led to “massive reductions in productivity losses, school absenteeism, infant mortality and treatment costs.”


Malaria is a serious obstacle for AngloGold Ashanti’s business in Ghana as it can be for many companies operating throughout Africa.  Steve Knowles, AngloGold Ashanti’s Director for Malaria Control, even went so far to say that “there was no doubt that malaria was the biggest threat to us as a company.” In fact, “in 2005 the Obuasi Mine Hospital was seeing a staggering average of 6,800 malaria patients per month, of a workforce of 8,000.” This resulted in nearly “7,500 man shifts lost per month” and a cost to the company of “$55,500 per month” for malaria treatment medication. After the implementation of the company’s new preventative policy, which “consisted of killing the mosquitoes through indoor residual spraying, preventing the mosquitoes from biting with nets, screening and repellants, controlling breeding via environmental management and anti-malarial drugs…the average monthly cost of treatment has… declined from $55,000 to just over $6,000 and the lost man-days due to malaria has been reduced from almost 7,000 per month to just over 160.” This is not to mention the effects of the program in the larger community which has experienced “an average decline of over 5, 800 cases per month (75%)” as well as a 70 percent increase in school attendance and a reduction in malaria caused infant mortality rate to zero.


The project’s success has attracted attention from the Ghanaian government and international organizations. Ghana has recently partnered with AngloGold Ashanti and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to “scale up” the program’s model and increase its reach to 40 new districts throughout the country. Knowles also commented on Ghana’s “very robust health system and infrastructure” which provided doctors, nurses and clinics for the area and allowed the program to be implemented in the first place. Although the treatment of malaria, and other diseases which disproportionately affect the poor, are often seen as humanitarian exercises with insurmountable costs, this program demonstrates that addressing diseases like malaria are actually cost effective and in the economic interest of private companies and worldwide industries.


Resource:  Thom, Anso. "Ghana: Malaria Investment Pays Off." Health-e News Service. AllAfrica.com, 5 May 2011. <http://allafrica.com/stories/201105091214.html>.


Additional Information

A report from Roll Back Malaria, “Business Investing in Malaria Control: Economic Returns and a Healthy Workforce for Africa”:  http://www.rollbackmalaria.org/ProgressImpactSeries/report6.html


An article on the cost of malaria to Africa: http://www.bernama.com/bernama/v5/newsworld.php?id=584465


An article from ‘Modern Ghana’ on the economic benefits of malaria control: http://www.modernghana.com/news/327494/1/new-report-shows-that-private-sector-investment-in.html

Discussion Questions

1.       Do you think realizing the economic benefits of malaria control will have a big influence on the eradication of the disease? Why or why not?

2.       What types of communities will benefit from private industry sponsored malaria control efforts? Which will not?

3.       Who should take primary responsibility for reducing the impact of malaria on Africa countries? Why?


Some Rwandan’s may soon be deriving large amounts of relatively inexpensive electricity from an uncommon source, Lake Kivu. The lake is large, 1,000 square miles, and deep, with a maximum depth of 1,575 ft.  However, its unique characteristic is “the rich supplies of methane gas that are lying in its depths.” The methane is a result of area volcanoes and anaerobic bacteria, and there is an estimated 60 billion cubic meters of it trapped deep below the surface. The trapped gas has traditionally been viewed as a local hazard but is now being seen as a potential energy source in a region which is hampered by shortages. The Rwandan government has launched a pilot program which has already begun to extract methane from the lake in the hopes of attracting investors.

This type of energy production is especially attractive for the Rwandan government because it isn’t exported, but derived from Rwanda’s own resources. The mechanisms for extracting underwater methane are also cheaper than those of hydro or thermal plants. The methane extraction process involves lowering a pipe so that it is positioned just above the gas. Then, “when a valve is opened, the deep water flows up and the gas bubbles out.” The project has already attracted investment from an energy company in the U.S., ContourGlobal, which has plans to develop an energy production plant on site. The company expects to produce 25 megawatts of electricity in about a year and increased production to 100 megawatts after the initial phases have proven successful. This would “double the 95 megawatts that Rwanda currently produces from all sources,” allowing for more development, industrialization and a better quality of life.

This project may have a major impact on Rwanda’s economic growth. Although the country’s economy has been steadily growing since the ending of the civil war in 1993, development has been hampered by a shortage of electricity. This is not to mention the effects that rolling blackout can have on individual homes and the larger society. As Vincent Karega, Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure explains, “We are trying to solve the quality of life problem because we have no energy — it is difficult to cool the vaccines, the medicines, to store and package food, to process it… So energy is key for all of the socio-economic transformation." Innovative and sustainable energy resources have the potential to unlock a host of new possibilities for Rwanda and other developing nations across Africa.


Reference: McKenzie, David. "’Exploding Lake’ Could Power Economic ‘revolution’" CNN International. Cable News Network, 4 May 2011. <http://edition.cnn.com/2011/BUSINESS/05/04/rwanda.kivu.exploding.methane/index.html>.

Additional Information

A paper from UNEP on the “Poverty-environment-energy linkages in Rwanda”: http://www.unpei.org/PDF/Rwanda-Pov-env-energy-linkages.pdf


An article on geothermal energy in Rwanda: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-04/rwanda-plans-to-start-sinking-geothermal-wells-has-700-mws.html

A short article from UNDP on “Environment and Energy” in Rwanda: http://www.undp.org.rw/Energy_and_Environment.html

A short video on the Lake Kivu energy project among others: http://blip.tv/file/5106490

Discussion Questions

1. How important is electricity to your life? Do you think you could continue to function normally with only a few hours without electricity at night? What about no electricity at all? How would things change?

2. Can you think of ways to identify and exploit sources of clean, cheap, renewable energy for other developing countries? What kind of support would these countries need from those that are more developed?

3. What support can you provide to help solve the energy crisis around the world?

On Thursday, April 28, 2011 at the Embassy of Ghana, The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa held the first Ambassador Andrew Young lecture series of 2011 entitled “Youth, The Vanguard for Change,” featuring Mr. Michael Blake, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Deputy Associate Director of the Office of Inter-governmental Affairs as well as Ms. Karen Richardson, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. The speakers emphasized the importance of realizing the potential and promise of youth populations, both in the United States and abroad.


His Excellency Daniel Ohene Agyekum, the Ambassador of the Embassy of Ghana and host of the event, provided welcoming remarks while Bernadette Paolo, President and CEO of The Africa Society, served as the Mistress of Ceremony. Joy Scott, a student from School Without Walls in Washington, DC set the electrifying tone of the program with the recitation of a poem written by Lauren Hill, “Motives & Thoughts.” Her classmates, Joy Scott and Bryan King introduced Mr. Michael Blake and Ms. Karen Richardson respectively. The students were excellent representatives of the next generation and their inspiration provided the audience with much hope for the future.


Mr. Blake’s remarks focused on the potential and promise of the next generation. He thanked the youth for being the “generation that will get our people to the next level” and reminded the older members of the audience that it is their responsibility to empower those who come after them. He called on the youth to help lead a paradigm shift in how Americans think and talk about Africa and those of African descent. He spoke about the importance of not letting “our present circumstances define us.” He also emphasized that the youth of today are a necessary and integral component in generating the kind of change we want to see in the societies of tomorrow. He cited the youth led movements in Tunisia as an example of this. He explained, through the words of President Obama, the fundamental interconnectedness of Africa and its peoples to the United States and the greater world at large. Mr. Blake charged the youth to become leaders and inspiration for the rest of the world and gave a moving testimony on his own life experience to inspire the youth to realize their full potential.


Ms. Richardson’s speech focused on the role of youth as a “significant catalyst for political and social change” both domestically and internationally. Ms. Richardson cited the example of the 2008 presidential election in the U.S which saw the largest voter turnout in 3 decades as well as the international example of how a pan Arabic youth movement dedicated to democracy led to a 4 week uprising in Tunisia and culminated in the end of the 23 year and 30 year rule of the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt respectively. Ms. Richardson also referenced other key youth led movements in African history, such as the formation of an ANC youth league in 1944 by a 26 year old Nelson Mandela and his peers, instrumental in bringing an end to apartheid. Ms. Richardson defined youth populations as being “at the center” of all these changes. Ms. Richardson highlighted the important and undeniable fact that we live in an increasingly globalized world which means that what happens in other countries has significance for us here at home and world at large. Additionally, Ms. Richardson provided insight into President Obama’s outlook on the subject of “Youth as the Vanguard of Change”, reiterating a prior quote by the President that “not only that youth are at the forefront of change but that they are necessary and key active players as change agents.” As well as the importance of civic responsibility engagement by African governments among their young populations to help realize the vision of a peaceful and prosperous Africa.


The night ended with a question and answer session, where both speakers offered substantive and inspirational remarks. After the speakers had finished, The Africa Society Fellows, Ms. Sarah Kuruswo and Aisha Nzibo presented both Mr. Blake and Ms. Richardson with awards for their participation in the Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series.


Many of the children of Mathare, a slum in Nairobi, become victim of the pervasive poverty and crime that often defines the community. However, one innovative school is investing in ballet to inspire and enrich the children to reach their full potential.  About 40 children in the school have begun to take beginning ballet once a week and the program’s organizers are very optimistic about the effect these classes may have on its pupils. The class instructor, Mike Wamaya explains that for these children, ballet is “a chance to be yourself and a chance to interact and express yourself in an artistic way.”


The dance classes are a result of a partnership with the school and Anno’s Africa, an English charity which provides “arts education to vulnerable children” in Africa. The classes cost very little for the funders, the children practice in a local church without traditional equipment like mirrors or bars, but the effect is grand. Wamata explains that, “We believe it keeps our guys focused. It prepares them mentally and it trains them how to breathe and have body postures." Teachers have reported that students who have participated in the classes are doing better at school as well. They have more motivation to attend school and have learned skills to help them focus on their work. This is not to mention the self-esteem it builds and motivation to “leave the vices and embrace the virtues” of a rough neighborhood.


Although the Wamaya recognizes the many challenges his students must cope with and his own inability to provide for all of their needs, what he can provide them with is knowledge. “This knowledge they will apply when they go back home and they’ll use it in the challenges they’re having,” he explains. Although the student’s material wealth goes unchanged they are encouraged to see their full potential and improve their own situation. In its initial phases, this program seems to be successful in transforming the lives of its students despite its low cost.


Resource: Sesay, Isha. "Young Ballet Dancers Dream of Life beyond Kenyan Slums." CNN International. Cable News Network, 13 Apr. 2011. <http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/13/kenya.ballet.mathare/index.html>.


Additional Resources

 A link to Anno’s Africa’s website: http://www.annosafrica.org.uk/

A paper from the Human Sciences Research Council on “A case for after-school care in South Africa”: http://www.hsrc.ac.za/research/output/outputDocuments/5385_Ward_Acaseforafterschoolcare.pdf

A video from ‘The Guardian’ on Dancing Classes in one of South Africa’s Townships: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/video/2010/jul/07/ikapa-dance-theatre-cape-town


Discussion Questions

1.        Do you believe that after school programs deliver the kind of help underprivileged children need? Do they need something more?

2.       Can you think of an after school program that encouraged you or someone you know? What effect did it have?

3.       What other, similar, low-cost programs can you imagine that would help uplift children in need?

 Innovation in Medical Care Brings Access to Rural Areas in Rwanda


Simple medical attention can be hard to come by in rural areas of many developing countries. For instance, “just a few years ago the Burera district [of Rwanda] only had one doctor for its 350,000 population.” This has serious consequences for those in need and can cause what should be low risk exercises, like routine childbirth, to turn deadly. However, the inability to provide care for women has caused “childbirth [to be] the number-one killer of young to middle-aged women in developing countries.” In Rwanda, where maternal mortality is extremely high, government officials are relying on innovation to aid in the fight against this humanitarian crisis.


A cooperative effort between the Rwandan government and a variety of foundations and non-profit organizations has allowed Rwanda to begin constructing community health centers in rural areas of the country. A major donor, Partners in Health, not only provided funding but the expertise for a state of the art medical facility in Rwanda’s Burera district. Dr. Peter Drobac, the Rwanda project director for the organization explained that their purpose is to “help support the government implement their roadmap and do it effectively, and [the government] gave us the space to try new things and to innovate." The innovations are “effective but inexpensive design features” which can make a major difference in patient care. Ultraviolet lights are used because they kill many disease carrying airborne microbes, smooth resins are spread over floors for easy sterilization and high ceilings are vaulted to flow through windows to improve ventilation.


Innovations are not only being explored in the physical design of the medical centers but logistically as well. The Rwandan government has set up a pyramid structure in order to realistically provide medical care with the financial and human resources at hand. At the base of the pyramid each village has at least two “community health workers,” in the middle are community health centers and at the top are district hospitals. With this system, the community health workers are able to quickly identify serious medical complications, monitor patient progress, and send patients to medical centers or district hospitals when necessary. This system has had perhaps the most notable impact on decreasing maternal mortality. Instead of unattended home births, women have access to community health workers, a short distance to travel to community health centers and if the staff identifies a complication, they can send the patient to a district hospital.


The innovative processes which are taking root in Rwanda’s medical care systems are both realistic and effective. The design of the new health centers provides cost effective ways to reduce infection and contamination while the pyramid system allows for the greatest amount of care without overwhelming the most advanced hospitals. Rwanda’s attempt to improve access and quality of medical care is another example of how innovative thinking can overcome seemingly insurmountable price tags.


Reference: Strieker, Gary. "Rwanda Saving Lives of Mothers and Babies." Inside Africa. CNN, 6 Apr. 2011. <http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/06/rwanda.child.birth/>.


Additional Information

An article from The World Bank on healthcare in rural areas of Africa: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/COUNTRIES/AFRICAEXT/0,,contentMDK:21661891~pagePK:146736~piPK:146830~theSitePK:258644,00.html

A video on using adapted bicycles to transport patients to healthcare centers in rural Africa: http://vimeo.com/5014906

A link to the website for a Virgin Mobile program which seeks to bring healthcare workers to rural areas of Africa: http://www.virginunite.com/Templates/News.aspx?nid=baa433fb-a751-4914-8258-0781487ed291&cid=b2cc3b54-5e68-49a0-b662-9611ee4ef7d5&id=b442957f-c09b-4d81-8a94-5a55ae35873f

A video on the “Phelophepa Train” in South Africa which brings healthcare to rural areas: http://www.5min.com/Video/Learn-About-the-Phelophepa-Train-in-South-Africa-516895092

An article about improving healthcare in rural South Africa: http://www.sagoodnews.co.za/newsletter_archive/mission_possible_quality_healthcare_in_rural_sa.html


Discussion Questions

1.       Do you think the pyramid system is effective enough to provide suitable medical care in the rural areas of Rwanda? How could it be improved?

2.       What are the challenges to providing services for the residents who live in rural area of developing countries? How can they be overcome?

3.       Can you think of any new simple design innovations that hospitals in developing countries could use to improve their service?

 Community Gardens Grow Hope in South Africa


A sandy plot in the middle of Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s largest townships, does not seem like the ideal place for a garden to thrive. However, sixty-three year old local resident Christina Kaba has made it so. As a matter of fact Christina, along with other local women, has successfully implemented 28 community garden projects in the township which are providing fresh food to the community and even turning a profit. It began with the simple idea of putting food on the tables of the community but has seen unpredicted success due to the desire of people throughout Cape Town to have fresh fruits and vegetables.   According to local residents participating in the program, “the community gardens have transformed the area, and the lives of its residents.”


The gardens have grown from a modest supply of fresh produce to the participating members of the project to big business. The gardeners are now selling their harvest to the larger Cape Town market through a program called “Harvest for Hope.” This initiative was set up in 2008 as a way to give small scale township farmers access to viable markets. Demand has grown from a mere 80 orders to 600 orders a week. This demand has created more job opportunities in the local communities. Kaba explains that “we train them, they train the others, we motivate them, they motivate the others, because they are out of poverty.” This cyclical success has been a source of hope for the community that Kaba is proud of.


Reference: http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/03/29/community.farming.cape.town/index.html


Additional Information

A short video on a school garden in a township outside of Johannesburg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g62hF8dgmLg


A link to an organization which supports small farmers in Uganda: http://www.farmafrica.org.uk/smartweb/where-we-work/uganda


An article about a program in Ghana to connect cocoa farmers through mobile technology: http://www.ausfoodnews.com.au/2011/03/18/mobile-phones-link-ghana-cocoa-farmers.html


Discussion Questions

1.       Do you see farming as a catalyst to change lives in your own community? How? Do you think it makes more of an impact for the people described in this article? Why?

2.       Can you think of additional ways to bring individuals who farm, craft, or produce other goods to larger markets like the ‘Harvest for Hope’ program? What are the challenges for the low-income and self employed in Africa? How can they be overcome?

3.       Is the success of this type of program unique to South Africa? Could it work in other African countries? Why or why not?

An Arizona based organization, ‘Ride 4 a Woman,” has successfully begun a program in Uganda which will train more than two hundred women in bicycle maintenance and repair. The two week training course is part of a larger initiative with the goal of “help[ing] disadvantaged women gain new, marketable skills and at the same time promote an environmentally-friendly form of travel, namely, cycling.” After completing the bicycle repair course the women will have the opportunity to expand their knowledge and increase their viability to successfully run a bike based business through job training which emphasizes professional skills. As bicycle mechanics is not a traditional job for women in this region, the program allows women to create their own opportunities in an untapped sector of the economy.

Although the direct impact of training women to contribute to the local economy will certainly be felt, Ride 4 a Woman has a larger vision for the community. They have broke ground on a women’s center which will “house a venue for training courses, a bike repair station, a bike shop, and eventually a bike manufacturing section” and hopes to be a “hub of local activity.” The organization hopes to drive development and growth indirectly through bicycles. In addition to repair services, the women hope to use bicycles as taxis, a way to transport goods and even to attract more tourism. The area is adjacent to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is home to an indigenous gorilla population. The organization has partnered with the Ugandan Wildlife Authority who is “supporting the project, as they actively promote the bike tours…[and] create an exciting trail for cyclists to use in the forest.”

Initiatives such as these are in high demand in Uganda, a country that has both the “world’s youngest population” and an 83 percent unemployment rate among those between 15 and 24 years of age. Uganda’s government has recognized the untapped resource and has been supportive in the Ride 4 a Woman programs. Two weeks of skills training can enhance the ability of an individual to contribute to a developing economy and the trajectory of their community. Many of the women participating in this program felt hopeful and excited about their future. By this measure Ride 4 a Woman may have already accomplished their overarching goal to “see the women in the area become empowered women.”

Resource: Hyatt, Justin. "Bicycles At the Heart of Empowerment Scheme for Rural Women." Inter Press Service. AllAfrica.com, 24 Mar. 2011. <http://allafrica.com/stories/201103240372.html>.




Additional Resources


UNDP’s website on ‘Gender and Woman’s Empowerment’ in Uganda: http://www.undp.or.ug/whatwedo/22

An article from the Denver Post on American based programs aimed at empowering women in Uganda: http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_17684739

The website of ‘Farm Africa,’ an organization which works to ‘empower women in rural areas’: http://www.farmafrica.org.uk/smartweb/ethiopia/rural-womens-empowerment-project

A video from the ‘Women’s Global Empowerment Fund’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc1qAQrh2YI




Discussion Questions


1. Can you think of another training program that would benefit rural, low-income women in Uganda? How would it help the individual women? What about the larger community?

2. What do you think about programs which target women specifically? Why do you think organizations single out one gender over another?

3. What challenges will these women face after their training is over? How can success be further insured?

 Brilliant Innovation Produces Energy from Trash in Kenya


Public sanitation and hygiene have long been compromised by the lack of public works programs to remove trash and sewage from Kenya’s urban low income areas. Resident’s have been left with the task of their community’s garbage removal and human waste facilities which has been far too daunting without the proper equipment or resources.  However, a community based organization, Ushirika Wa Safi or “‘an association to maintain cleanliness’ in Swahili,” in the Kenyan slum of Kibera has begun to make large strides in successfully accomplishing this task without government assistance.  Innovation and the will to improve their standards of living have allowed this community to develop their own sustainable waste removal system which doubles as a “community cooker that turns waste into an energy source.” Some say Ushirika Wa Safi’s program is radically improving the lives of the community’s residents.


The organization began its work simply enough, as a group that would send out teams once a week to collect and burn garbage in the community. Soon organizers thought to use the burning garbage as an energy source to warm a boiler that could provide hot water to residents for a small fee. Eventually an incinerator was developed that could not only heat a hot water boiler but also provide energy for a ‘community cooker’ where residents pay to cook their meals. Now the project is gaining significant momentum and appreciation from locals.


The organization has devised a program whereby large reusable sacks are distributed to residents, filled with trash, collected by wheelbarrow, and then deposited for sorting. Some of the trash is sorted for recycling, some is sold as scrap, and some is used as fuel to generate heat for the community cooker and boiler. The incinerator is kept burning through a small quantity of used diesel fuel that would have otherwise been thrown away. The ashes are then collected by residents who use pit latrines to ward off the smell. Through the small user fee that the project charges for their services, Ushirika Wa Safi has been able to employ ‘caretakers’ who ensure that the incinerator is under control and garbage collectors to retrieve the trash filled sacks and bring them to the project site.


With few resources but a strong will to improve the standards of living for its residents, Ushirika Wa Safi has made a significant environmental, humanitarian and economic difference in its community. This is a wonderful example of how creative problem solving can begin to forge the path towards sustainable development in Africa.


Reference: Gathigah, Miriam. "Community Turns Garbage Into Energy Source." Inter Press Service. AllAfrica.com, 16 Mar. 2011. <http://allafrica.com/stories/201103160797.html>.



A video on ‘Harnessing Waste Produces Gas for Cooking in Kenya’ from Voice of America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEI28na26I8

An article from BuaNews on the impact of recycling on energy use and production in South Africa: http://allafrica.com/stories/200802070445.html

A video from Capital FM in Kenya on a program to recycle plastic bags: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvo5tqG9EhI



1. Would you mind cooking your food with heat that is generated by trash? What might bother you about that? Is it worth using methods that might initially make you uncomfortable in the name of sustainability?

2. What do you think you would do with your trash if there wasn’t a collection system? Could your local community come up with a plan to collect and dispose of it on your own?

3. What trash collection and removal solutions can you think of? Could any of your ideas work without large amounts of resources?