Skip to main content

African Communities Leading Change: Practical Action at Africa Climate Week 2023

By Practical Action On 31.08.2023 ChangemakersCitiesClimate changeBlog

Practical Action will attend two key events in Africa this September. We will promote the power of collaboration to tackle the global crises of climate and poverty.

As we approach COP28, the climate summits and conferences that feed into it provide vital opportunities for open dialogue between civil society and decision makers.

However, for this to create the momentum for meaningful action, the voices and knowledge of people living on the front line of climate change must be at the front and centre of all discussions and evidence.

Practical Action brings a unique approach to these meetings, bringing the experience of working with all groups affected by climate change, from communities facing unprecedented challenges to their governments, civil society and the private sector. Our focus is always to build long-term resilience at a large scale. We do this through enabling adaptation to climate change by adopting regenerative agriculture, access to renewable energy, waste management and supporting access to existing markets to create economies that work for people and the planet.

At the Africa Climate Week and the Africa Climate Summit, we will advocate for the adoption of community-led solutions that we can already demonstrate are changing systems and enabling people to move from a position where they are no longer just coping, but thriving.

Join us in this decisive year for action and learn more about the projects making big change happen throughout Africa.

Let’s meet: Check out our events and exhibition booth

Ingenious, lasting and locally owned solutions

Creating thriving futures for young people in rural Kenya

Farming practices across the globe, driven by markets, are depleting the soil and damaging the environment. It is causing biodiversity loss, contributing to harmful emissions and often bypasses millions of smallholder farmers, many of whom are already facing many challenges, such as changing weather patterns and access to land and finance.

Harvests are too small to feed families and provide an income. Regenerative agriculture is a sustainable alternative with the potential to create resilient farming and food systems that protect environmental resources and create vibrant rural economies. 

In Kenya, young people in Kisumu and Homa Bay are already leading the transformation for themselves and many others through our mentorship approach. Together, they are defying the belief that agriculture and related activities weren’t viable careers.

Working with governments, communities, development agencies and private companies, Practical Action supports this process, enhancing business skills and addressing the barriers preventing young people in Kenya from accessing the finance, markets, knowledge and tools they need to be successful.

A woman in a green coat participating in Practical Action during Africa Climate Week 2023, picking oranges from a tree.

Empowering refugees in Rwanda with renewable energies

Having energy access is life changing. We need it to power homes, businesses, schools, and health clinics. We use it to earn an income, stay in touch, cook, and study. Yet, in refugee camps around the world, modern, reliable energy is often inaccessible, unsafe, and unaffordable. Without energy access, displaced people struggle to earn a living, finding their lives are put on hold, often for years on end.

Investing in energy in humanitarian settings empowers refugees by stimulating camp economies and creating new job opportunities. Moreover, it has a significant impact on women and girls’ health, many of whom spend hours collecting firewood and cooking over open fires, which negatively affects their health.

In Rwanda, we have seen amazing results by working in partnership with local solar energy suppliers and the UNHCR to support refugees and their host communities’ access finance, training, technology and expertise so they are able to invest in the renewable energy they need to power their homes, schools, and businesses.

A boy in a blue shirt is participating in Africa Climate Week 2023.

Combining expertise for agricultural livelihoods in Burkina Faso

Agriculture is vital for Burkina Faso’s economy, providing jobs and income. Yet, its potential remains untapped. By combining renewable energy with more productive agricultural techniques, the productivity of small-scale farmers can gain a huge boost.

Despite its importance, Burkina Faso’s agricultural productivity is low and declining due to droughts, environmental degradation and outdated farming practices. Energy access is lacking in rural areas. Crop failures and food shortages result. Limited diversification and seasonal production lead to price fluctuations and inadequate income.

With a growing population, food availability is strained. Poor food preservation adds to the problem. Practical Action will bridge the gap between food producers and renewable energy providers, demonstrating its potential, viability and scalability by stimulating demand and supply.

Through collaboration with the private sector and decision makers, we will show how renewable energy adoption can enhance farmers’ livelihoods, creating more jobs, income and food security in the face of climate change.

A woman is washing water from a well in a garden.

Reducing open burning waste for healthier air in Senegal

Senegal faces the twin issues of rapid population growth and urbanisation, which drives increased waste generation. Despite a 90% collection efficiency in Dakar, the challenge of sorting the collected waste remains an unsolved environmental challenge. Landfill mismanagement persists, informal waste workers face unspeakably harsh conditions, and open burning of waste is inconsistently regulated by authorities. As urban expansion forces more people to live near landfill sites, the environmental and health risks tied to waste open burning are becoming more stark.

In collaboration with Ecole Polytechnique de Thiès (EPT) and the National Company for Integrated Waste Management (SONAGED), Practical Action will combat Senegal’s waste-burning issue through a range of initiatives. These include implementing early warning systems for air quality, raising awareness of the dangers of burning waste, improving conditions for waste workers, and partnering with waste picker associations to increase recycling.

By promoting good practices and fostering partnerships, Practical Action is driving nationwide change that will contribute to better health for people and the environment and can be taken to scale beyond the city limits.

A group of people standing near a pile of trash in Senegalese communities.

These are a few powerful examples of ingenious ideas and bold collaboration resulting from building decades of evidence and trust from the ground to the highest decision-making levels.

Let’s unite to drive transformative action for Africa’s climate-resilient, just and thriving future. Let’s advocate for community-driven action that fosters resilience, scales regenerative agriculture, expands sustainable energy access and tackles waste management. Together, we can make impactful change a reality for everyone.

In the words of our founder, E.F. Schumacher, “to talk about the future is useful only if it leads to action now”.
We are ready for it.