Producing local sustainable energy and enhancing inclusive business activities

Description of the project: WECF and local partners facilitate technical trainings to integrate renewable energy solutions, such as briquette production, solar pumps, photovoltaic and biogas digesters, into the activities of agricultural cooperatives. Benefiting from improved, sustainable processing of agricultural products and diversified activities, cooperatives generate more jobs and higher incomes for their members. They also become energy hubs, providing access to clean and affordable energy to their members and the wider community. They provide technical and financial advice on sustainable energy technologies suitable for households, public entities and businesses.

Climate impact: With a rural electrification rate of 4%, only 0.4% of the population in Uganda has access to modern cooking technologies. Almost 86% households rely on firewood for cooking, leading to high CO2 emissions and strong deforestation (losing 1% of natural forest resources every year). The project generates affordable clean energy for rural households, creating social and economic benefits for women and men, while reducing CO2 emissions and the dependence on fossil fuels.

Gender impact: Gender responsive trainings on energy technologies and management are conducted to create equal ownership of business activities and installed technologies. For each technology, two cooperative members, female and male, are elected to be in charge of the technical and management issues. Cooperative members are responsible for raising awareness within their communities, particularly within women’s saving groups, providing advice responding to their needs and capacities.

Scalability / replicability: Existing community structures, such as saving groups and cooperatives, create possibilities for joint investments in energy technologies and act as multipliers. The production and use of decentralized solar energy and the recycling of organic waste promote local value chains and climate-friendly, sustainable economies. The solutions are feasible, replicable and inclusive. They transform the agricultural and energy sector, reduce poverty, create income, improve health and the communities’ resilience.

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Community Conservation Resilience Initiative (CCRI) in India

Description of the project: The CCRI carries out a participatory assessment and documentation of community conservation initiatives in the light of threats to their customary practices such as grazing and small scale agriculture, that secure their livelihoods. Communities in three ecologically diverse Indian states – Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat – identified external and internal threats and participated in capacity building and training workshops, as well as resource mapping and focus group discussions. The project also contributes to the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 2011-2020 Strategic Plan and Aichi Targets by providing bottom-up policy advice on effective and appropriate forms of community conservation.

Climate impact: Local communities’ and indigenous peoples’ customary knowledge and practices regarding sustainable management of forests and grasslands is essential for climate adaptation and mitigation. Indeed, they have proven to provide human groups with enough resources for their livelihoods without over-exploiting nature. This project supports communities in defending their rights and sustainable practices against the multifaceted effects of deforestation.

Gender impact: The CCRI fostered dialogue between women and other marginalised groups of Tadoba Tiger Reserve and Gond communities, Banni grasslands and pastoralists groups in Gujarat, or eastern Himalayas in Bengal and Rabha communities from Nepal. This assessment revealed that gender differences form the basis of roles and responsibilities for the use and conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. Amplifying women’s voices in decision-making processes and allowing them access promotes gender equality and is central to protecting and recovering traditional knowledge.

Scalability/replicability: This project is part of the global CCRI program, with 68 communities conducting similar assessments in 22 countries, proving its scalability and replicability. It can easily generate effective support for community conservation initiatives by highlighting the benefits of biodiversity conservation as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. If policy and decision-makers integrate the CCRI recommendations made by local  communities, especially women, this powerful initiative will be further expanded.

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Good farming practices to save river Kagera from silting

Description of the project: The Kagera river, a tributary of the Nile, is being threatened by silting due to unsustainable farming methods. Its river basin is a very rich agricultural ground supporting 16.5 million people in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The project aims to improve and modernize current farming methods, in order to improve food security and ensure resilient livelihoods for people and animals living in this area. Groups of 50 new beneficiaries are trained every month on farming methods, followed by a tree-planting scheme by the river. Structures for a warehouse and a community hall are being established by the beneficiaries.

Climate impact: Revitalizing the river and its surrounding areas is key to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the fauna and communities who depend on it for their survival. The new farming methods, the creation of tree nurseries, as well as the creative ways in which plastic and organic wastes are being recycled and reused, tackle this challenge with a holistic approach. In addition, every participating household is given a rain harvest water tank to reduce water consumption from the river.

Gender impact: 80% of the farmers in the Kagera basin are women due to male migration. Refugees make up a third of targeted beneficiaries. Increasing food security has cut down early marriages and domestic violence, often prompted by famine. In addition to capacity building on resilient farming, 300 women and girls have been trained in craft-making, recycling plastic and paper waste with other products to make jewelry, baskets, and mats generating new income. A saving groups scheme has helped women and girls access financial autonomy, but also sexual and reproductive health care.

Scalability/replicability: Using easily replicable structures (i.e., a committee for collective decisions), methods and tools, with locally sourced raw materials, this project can be scaled up all along the Kagera river basin stretching from Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Its holistic approach, addressing food security, access to clean water, waste management and poverty reduction, with safe and sustainable solutions, could also be applied to other river basins in the world.

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Access to water and sanitation and holistic approach for an inclusive climate resilience

Description of the project: Kynarou is developing an inclusive and sustainable development model with 10 Dalits (“untouchable” caste) communities in Tamil Nadou, India. Starting from the supply of drinking water and access to decent sanitation, this project runs an exemplary model of sustainable and inclusive development with the villagers, ranging from ecological treatment of wastewater to integrated solid waste management, including the creation of 120 organic vegetable gardens. With this comprehensive approach, Kynarou aims to increase the climatic resilience of the entire Vaigai River watershed, counting on the support of local authorities.

Climate impact: This project responds to a key – but little recognized – challenge of climate change: the disruption of the water cycle, which influences local thermoregulation. It contributes to mitigation and adaptation through the protection of groundwater and the responsible use of water resources, soil regeneration through the use of compost and filtered wastewater, reduction of pollution due to waste. When scaled up, this approach can improve the resilience of a catchment draining more than 7000 km2.

Gender impact: Improving hygiene and living conditions positively impacts women in priority through access to dignified sanitation, which limits gender-based violence, reduces urinary tract infections and increases the enrollment of girls. In addition, this project promotes the work and autonomy of women through village management committees that enable them to access decision-making processes in their village and exercise their civic rights.

Scalability / replicability: Based on the needs of the population, and supporting the appropriation of infrastructure by communities through the concept of village committees, Kynarou has already replicated its actions in 50 villages, improving the lives of 100,000 marginalized people. Since 2016, South-South cooperation with Burkina Faso and Madagascar has been put in place.

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Indigenous women in Nepal recover from earthquake disaster through climate resilient farming

Description of the project: The project aims at empowering indigenous women and securing their rights after natural disasters by helping them practice resilient farming. In the Thami and Bankaria indigenous communities, women groups have built their capacity via trainings on soil testing, selecting and preserving seeds, maintaining plant nurseries, preparing organic fertiliser, using integrated pest management, and selling vegetables in farmers’ markets. Envisioned with a sustainable, rights based approach, this project has empowered marginalised women and communities to rebuild their livelihoods after the devastating earthquake.

Climate impact: The project helps decrease GHG emissions through ecological techniques such as the production and use of organic fertilizer from household waste and the production and use of organic pesticides from local plants and vegetables. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy that focuses on the long-term prevention of pests through a combination of methods: biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties.

Gender impact: This project aims to improve the economic status of marginalised indigenous women. Their consent was prioritized and their multiple workloads kept in mind before conducting any activities. To ensure equal access to benefits, Women Farmers Groups were established to keep useful savings. The shared knowledge on indigenous women’s human rights and collective rights boosted the trainees to self-advocate for their rights as women, wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers.

Scalability / replicability: This project has been a great success in bringing change in the lives of Thami indigenous
women of Dolakha, Bankariya and indigenous women of Hadikhola. Now they are fully engaged in agriculture based on IPM, a cost effective natural technique. To replicate this project, interested communities can visit the Thami and Bankariya from Dolokha and Makwanpur to observe and understand the importance of this simple, climate friendly technique of vegetable farming.

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Women-Driven Clean Kundrathur

Description of the project: The Kundrathur Solid Waste Management (SWM) project serves a town of 25,000 inhabitants with quality waste sorting and recycling, providing 64 underprivileged women and men with new employment as Green Friends. Women have been included in a male dominated sector via self-help groups that build their technical, environmental and social capacities. Green Friends conduct door-to-door waste collection, recovery by composting, recycling and reuse, diverting most of the town’s garbage from landfills. The project, supported by 340 volunteers, improved the quality of air, water and soil by preventing methane release and waste burning. It also contributed to a major behavioural change regarding littering and waste management.

Climate impact: In serving the 8,500 households of Kundrathur, this SWM initiative has diverted 65-70% of the collected waste stream from reaching the landfill or being burned. 4,540 t. of biodegradable waste has been turned into compost and 2181 t. of other waste has been recycled. A clear climate contribution and improvement from the open dump yards that were causing heavy pollution and release of methane gas. The Green Friends are also involved in a tree planting program.

Gender impact: HHIDS decided in 2013 to form women’s self-help groups in order to equally include female workers in this male-dominated industry. A dedicated coordinator specifically reached out to underprivileged women, who are now equally employed, assigned tasks, and paid. The current 32 women Green Friends enjoy full-time jobs with steady incomes, participate in decision making processes, have enrolled their children in school and receive regular health screenings for their families.

Scalability / replicability: This successful model has been replicated in three nearby towns of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Financial sustainability is achieved through the collection of user fees for the rendered SWM services and the sales of compost and recycled products. The project achieves positive behavioural changes towards source segregation and sparks initiatives addressing environmental and climate issues.

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Leila Community Bike Workshops (LCBW)

Description of the project: The LCBW are a women-led, accessible bicycle mechanic workshops. The workshops develop self-reliance and build independent lives for women and LGBTQ people in the deprived south Tel Aviv-Yaffa community. The project ensures 1,350 beneficiaries (mainly women) from poor communities are newly mobile and have the skills to stay independently mobile, so contributing to their safe and harassment free mobility across the city, as well as their economic status, productivity, physical and mental health. With increased physical mobility, participants can increase their socio-economic mobility, accessing new opportunities for work and/or education, and save on transport costs via economic sustainability of accessible transport by maintaining their own bicycles and positively reducing congestion and pollution.

Climate impact: About 1,000 people in Israel die prematurely yearly due to pollutants. Air pollution in Tel Aviv is higher than any major European city. In deprived areas such as the project area, air quality is often at its worse and affects vulnerable populations more, exacerbating their respiratory health problems (e.g., asthma). The project encourages more people to commute by bicycles. This contributes to cutting harmful emissions thus reducing air pollution.

Gender impact: The project provides an innovative alternative for sustainable and self-sufficient access to cost effective transport for poor communities in Tel Aviv in a respectful, educational, and empowering atmosphere. The poor communities, including women and members of the LGBTQ community, become involved in participatory learning space where they are able to share knowledge and skills gained. The project also addresses gender inequality in income. With increased physical mobility though bicycle use, marginalized women now have more access to work and educational opportunities.

Scalability / replicability: In the previous year, the project helped 200 women develop their self-reliance and build independent lives. The project has received overwhelming feedback and requests for long-term learning processes for sustained cost-effective transportation, which shows there is a high demand for women and LGBTQ-oriented activities in the project area. Since the project is supported by SwitchMed, the initiative enables all supported Mediterranean stakeholders with connections to other CSOs in the region to share ideas and scale up activities to new locations.

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Land for Life: farming communities develop innovative agroforestry system preserving the rainforests and ensuring better livelihoods

Description of the project: Inga-alley cropping is a simple but revolutionary agroforestry system that provides sustainable alternatives to old subsistence farming practices destroying the rainforest. Inga trees are planted in hedgerows between rows of food crops. Growing rapidly, the trees essentially recreate a rainforest that is managed by a virtuous cycle of yearly pruning after cropping, yielding protective thick mulch from leaves as well as vital firewood from branches. The pruned trees allow sunlight to reach the food crops. Working in harmony with nature, small farmers are empowered towards climate resilient food sovereignty.

Climate impact: Loss of biodiversity, forest ecosystem destruction and the resultant loss of habitat are among the first causes of global warming. Inga-alley adoption is a model for climate mitigation and adaptation through organic and sustainable regenerative agriculture, saving N2O emissions. By preventing slash & burn practices, this project has preserved 600 ha of rainforest and saved 12,300 t CO2 in 4 years. Since 2013, it has helped 40 to 300 families withstand Honduras’ terrible floods and droughts and ensured their food security.

Gender impact: Land for Life is a debt-free program that transforms livelihood options for the entire family. Agroforestry trainings are offered to women and men equally, enabling women to access new agricultural resources: women have been trained as foresters or tree-nursery managers. Women in the beneficiary communities have gained decision power regarding the family land. This reinforces their land inheritance rights, secured by a favorable legal environment in Honduras.

Scalability / replicability: Started in 2012 with 40 families, the project expanded to 300 households in Honduras and has been successfully replicated in Madagascar. Inga-alley agroforestry system is simple and cost effective; the model can be easily replicated. As farmers work cooperatively, they can access larger markets where demand for organic food is raising. The Inga foundation is looking into opportunities to access regional channels while keeping their bottom-up approach.

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Community strategies for climate-resilient livelihoods

Description of the project: This project develops exemplary climate adaptation strategies in 4 communities of rural Zambia, working on women-farmers’ appropriation of the challenges they are facing, and introducing new and diversified livelihoods. Today’s main beneficiaries are 250 small-scale farming households, but further outreach to 33,000 people is planned, with a focus on women, youth and people living with disabilities. The project promotes sustainable innovations and climate-resilient practices that have been identified with and by the communities as the most appropriate, i.e., agroforestry, organic gardening and small livestock breeding.

Climate impact: 537 women have been trained on livestock breeding, leadership and project management. The project has improved the adaptive capacity of the farmer households to the adverse impacts of climate change. Their resilience to climate shocks is based on the diversification of income sources, thus reducing their dependency on rainfed agriculture. Further efforts, like planting over 35,780 trees of different species and the reduction of indiscriminate deforestation in the project areas, are contributing to mitigation.

Gender impact: The project empowers women by involving them in decision-making processes on access and management of natural resources, safeguarding their right to food, rural employment, a safe environment and climate justice. After several capacity building schemes, 86 women have developed the confidence to contest in various leadership positions in their respective communities. This in turn has increased the number of women-led proposals and initiatives.

Scalability / replicability: To ensure self-sufficiency, a Project Management Committee has been established. This body oversees sub-projects and the scaling-up of activities, which generates income for the maintenance of infrastructure and marketing mechanisms. In addition, special attention is drawn to the role of young people. Through the creation of environmental clubs in schools, information  can be easily passed on to other community members, creating a chain of information sharing.

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