The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the harsh realities of the unjust world that we live in. Despite these challenges, GAIA has been in a fortunate position to play a role in connecting people across borders, to show the value of having global solidarity and working together as a movement. While the pandemic may have limited our physical movement in meeting with people and conducting exchanges, it does not mean that the learning has to stop.
As the African region grows, new members become part of the movement and it has presented us with an opportunity to invite them to become acquainted with other groups through member to member bilateral exchanges. We recognised that this would be a good time to start facilitating these engagement sessions, to align our work and learn from each other, since everyone has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We took into consideration that many individuals have been inundated with calls as of late, therefore we wanted to ensure that people opted in to participate, and we were thrilled that 16 organisations filled in our survey to participate. After careful consideration, we were able to pair each group up with a like-minded organisation whom they have not worked with or met before.
Topical areas of discussions between participants included, ongoing campaigns within the organisations, country specific environmental issues, organisational accomplishments and possible areas of collaboration with their paired member group. One of these paired organisations included the Centre for Earth Works (CFEW), from Jos in Nigeria and the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO), from Accra in Ghana. The organisations similarly focus their work on youth development and climate change action. The groups also face common environmental issues within their respective countries. This includes waste management, flooding, deforestation and pollution.
While GAYO acknowledged that they had no ongoing campaign at the moment, Desmond Alugnoa, project coordinator, outlined several achievements of the organisation. These initiatives included their Sustainable Community Project, Youth SkillsHub Project, Clean Water for All, LIRA project on informal waste collectors, as well as implementing Eco Clubs in four universities within Ghana.
During the engagement, CFEW mentioned two of their ongoing campaigns, which included their #Youth4Land and Produced2Reuse campaigns. Additionally, team lead Benson Fasanya, outlined their organisational achievements. This included their Green School Project, Research on Toxic recycling, Youth4Land Campaign and Tree Planting exercises.
Joy Abraham, from CFEW said that she found the session to be knowledgeable and a fun experience.
“The Green Africa Youth Organization’s Campus Club initiative was an interesting aspect of their work. As a possible area for collaboration, we are thinking of creating a collaborative extended arm of the campus club here in our country,” said Joy.
Betty Osei Bonsu from GAYO, likewise, found the session to be an interactive experience where they could learn about what other organisations are doing.
“We enjoyed hearing about the Centre for Earth Works’ Green School Project. This could be an area of collaboration that we could replicate here in Ghana. Moreover, our organisation runs a recycle art project, which promotes zero waste and forms part of our Sustainable Community Project. The project aims to create a zero-waste model by 2020 that can be replicated in other communities across West Africa. This can work to develop an incentive-based waste management strategy for job creation and green product development,” said Betty.
At the end of all sessions groups were encouraged to keep in contact with each other and to further engage on their organisational campaign activities.