E4S in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

The E4S project was warmly welcomed by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology following several successful activities, and George of E4S Sierra Leone and The Kiradi Initiative was invited to join the curricula review team who are responsible for mapping the way forward for education in Sierra Leone.

Unfortunately, there were inconsistencies and the direction was unclear, especially with regards to key considerations such as who does what, how, when, and where. There was also some confusion about UNICEFs role in the process, exacerbated by the Ebola crisis. Then, after some bureaucratic shenanigans, the secretary and the director of the Curricular Review Office, both of whom had been keen champions of the E4S project, retired from their positions. These changes caused a general sense of confusion over the project’s next movements, and so we consulted the President’s Office for advice on how to proceed in this situation.

In the face of these continued challenges, George almost despaired of the project ever seeing any movement or progress, and came close to abandoning it to work on something new. However, he realised that the E4S project is important and relevant – anyone who found out about it agreed that it is a project which could really make some important changes. George used patience and endurance to grease his elbows, pushing the project onwards and upwards, taking the daily challenges in his stride.

After consulting with the President’s Office, it was determined that the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) would be the authority best suited for dealing with this initiative, and we entered into discussions with the EPA, looking at the project’s concept and the scope of our planned activities.

Discussions With the Environment Protection Agency

EPA Sierra Leone logoThe first official meeting centred discussions around what the EPA does, and Nektarina & Kiradi’s role in promoting the E4S project’s main tenet; that sustainability should be included on school curricula as a separate subject.

Working with the EPA is already a great step in the right direction. They have regional offices across the country and, working closely with local councils, have formed around 100 nature clubs in schools (especially in cities), and already run campaigns on environmental education for sustainability.

The Executive Chairperson welcomed our involvement in this endeavour, as all hands are needed on deck to promote our common goals. George has been co-opted onto the strategic planning team, piecing together a roadmap leading to the introduction of sustainability as a school subject in both primary and secondary schools.

The greatest challenge we face is rolling out this scheme across the nation, building on the successes we have already achieved. Gaps need to be filled, and in this our role will be paramount.

We shared our insights, our activity proposals, and our global strategic plan. These thoughts and plans were most welcomed. Volunteering will also be a vital part of these initiatives, and interns have an important role to play as we move forward. Environmental assessments need to be carried out and expert advice of varying opinions must be sought.

They are open and ready to make our goal their goal and we will make their goal our goal.

Education For Sustainability in Sierra Leone, April 2015

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

By George Mansaray, E4S Country Manager, Kiradi Initiatives, Sierra Leone

Introduction

The report under review is specific to the curricular review process and the collaborative efforts of other local organizations in ensuring its success by addressing the actual educational needs of the country.

It also focuses on the new path taken to engage the hundreds of school pupils that became pregnant during the Ebola sit at home ordeal to stay on course.

It further highlights challenges and recommendations for the smooth implementation of the said initiative.

sierra leone

The curricula review process

The review process for April has been fabulous, with lots of interest being shown by national organizations and government departments for the inclusion of sustainability issues in the curricula. The city council, the environmental protection agency and other like-minded groups organized much of the activities. This was a result of several presentations jointly done with local charities arousing their interest on the environmental challenges of the country. The revelations were shocking though and this has prompted further radio debates and community forums on the environment and sustainability.

More so, many organizations are using radio jingles appealing to the government to review the curricula with emphasis on sustainability.

Furthermore, the reopening of schools on April 16 offered the opportunity to use the first two weeks to visit high schools and do presentations on the E4S concept. Fifteen high schools were targeted, two teacher training colleges and ten primary schools.

A strong network has been formed and a proposal to pull resources together to take up the nationwide education campaign for sustainability is being looked into by all participating organizations.

However, the review process has been suspended for the month of May to pay attention to the proper management of schools after missing out for nearly a year.

The education authorities, however, realized that hundreds of young pupils became pregnant during the Ebola sit-at-home campaign. As they number in their hundreds, the girls themselves did not want to miss out in school, and so then the government has proposed an accelerated literacy project for these set of girls across the country. Therefore, a special curriculum will be developed in the month of May to keep these girls in school. The review team is currently working on the task for which I am involved to hammer sustainability to be a direct school subject in the accelerated literacy project.

back to school in sierra leone

The challenges

  • The challenges had been a lack of funds despite the acceptance of the initiative by the government. Lack of funds is not shown to the education authorities; our charity uses miscellaneous funds and salary from Nektarina to keep the initiative afloat.
  • A break in communication across the board
  • Left in suspense with regards the current status of the international office and project implementations across the various projects

Recommendations

  • Prompt response to project activities to enhance work as scheduled
  • Clearer lines of communication for updates to reduce waiting times of country manager and team.

Ebola and What it Revealed in Sierra Leone

Written by Alice Rees on . Posted in General Information, News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

May 2015, Sierra Leone

Ebola became a household name when it unleashed its wrath on the majority of innocent and ignorant inhabitants of Sierra Leone in May of 2014. There was little knowledge about the Ebola virus and its transmission thread, and its symptoms were the same as malaria, typhoid fever, cholera and other common ailments prevalent in the country.

  sierra leone

However, despite warnings from World health organization emphasizing the deadliness of the disease, not much was in place to stop its spread. It overran the country and became uncontrollable, killing thousands of people and leaving some physically challenged and others bearing the brunt of other consequences such as being orphaned, stigmatized, and fleeing their homelands to would-be protected and safe communities where they met their untimely death.

The consequences did not stop there; it halted commerce, travel and the operations of extractive industries. Most people lost their jobs, schools and colleges closed for almost a year, farmers ate up seeds reserved for farming, and most foreign nationals had to leave. This in its entirety burst the economy with the inhabitants bearing the dire consequences.

There was seen a national and global complacency in the fight against Ebola. The nationals had ill knowledge about the disease and were generally ill-equipped to tackle the spread of the disease. The global response was very slow. Complacency and traditional beliefs overtook the real fight, disregarding the Ebola preventative messages and manipulating funds for self-gain rather than collectively using the resources to eradicate the virus disease.

However, as it became an international grand challenge, the global alliance to fight the deadly virus had a breakthrough in bringing the spread of Ebola under control. The exercises in achieving this success were very costly to the people of Sierra Leone, however, it had to be done, to save the nation from a catastrophic situation. Proactive local measures also make up part of the larger resilience in the fight against Ebola.

The times are yet challenging as the majority of the citizenry are struggling with daily survival. However, as infection rates dwindle, the government ordered the reopening of all schools and colleges on 16 April 2015 with precautionary measures put in place to protect the teachers and learners.

Learners received news of schools resuming with joy. One can feel and sense their joy as they had since been carrying on without the right to education, association and play. Many parents are still skeptical about the safety of their kids while the virus is still killing people, and every parent or guardian should take the time to remind their kids about Ebola, with messages of avoiding companionship, play and contacts of any nature. Schools hold veronica buckets as a policy for every child to wash his or her hands and go through temperature test to qualify for entry into the school compound.

  learners are happy to get back to school after the ebola crisis

The reopening of schools was not spontaneous, the government in itself was not sure of parents sending their kids to school. A national campaign reassuring parents of the safety measures already put in place by the education, health and the national Ebola response centre was done. However, the first week was unpleasant and even the second week. It gained roots in the first week of May when kids turned out in their thousands to rejoin themselves in learning after a restricted safety period of almost one year.

It is worth seeing the reunification of learners, disregarding all precautionary measures and counsel from parents hugging each other and explaining stories about the devastation of their various communities by the Ebola virus disease. They play football together, smack each other and do their tricks. In the heat, they cluster despite knowledge of avoiding body contact.

However, the first lessons are on Ebola in every school across the country. How to sustain the gains already scored in the fight against Ebola. The kids are now torchbearers at home in the fight against Ebola. They pass on the messages to their parents and other family members. They also watch with keen interest defaulters of the precautionary measures at home. They are also bold enough to tell their parents to wash their hands and even have a shower after any trip to the city centre, market, workplace or whatever.

The outbreak of the Ebola virus exposed the overall inadequacies of the country. It spans from poor health care delivery, high illiteracy rate, over-reliance on tradition over modern wisdom, selfish tendencies, filthiness, poor personal hygiene, ugly environmental decay, corrupt nature to the bones at higher levels, poor educational facilities, poor transportation service, very disgraceful social services specific to children’s welfare, greed at every cadre, unsustainable practices at every cadre of society, and disregard for the rural poor. The list has no end in sight…

The consequences are vivid, suffering of the poor in every human rights perspective. Will lessons be learnt – this remains the million-dollar question.

  sierra leone

There are still plenty of needs, but if charities intervene, will the grants benefit the needy or will it go into private pockets and fabulous reports written with beautiful photos to convince donors whilst the actual beneficiaries continue to languish in squalor – this is a great concern. This is borne out of experience working in a poor country like Sierra Leone…living it, feeling it and seeing it. Action taken in mind of this has been positive – frantically stepping out and making noise about it for a turnaround in the situation…this is one way of several other ways employed by the reporter.

Attention should be paid to direct foreign aid; it is worthwhile to come as volunteers to accomplish your heart’s desires of helping; or seek credible local charities to accomplish such tasks in an honest and transparent manner for the good of humanity.

A day in life – Sierra Leone

Written by Marianne on . Posted in News, News & Updates, Sierra Leone

Nektarina Non Profit has partnered with Kiradi Initiatives Sierra Leone (KISL) to promote education and sustainability in Sierra Leone. The project’s activities have been put on hold in order to prioritise the urgent struggle against the Ebola epidemic, which is sweeping the country. We have supported a crowdfunding campaign to help the implementation of the Village-to-village Ebola prevention project. More information on the outcomes of this campaign here.

SITUATION UPDATE ON THE MAJOR CHALLENGES POSED BY THE EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE IN THE KIRADI INITIATIVES OPERATIONAL COMMUNITIES

Compiled by George Mansaray, Project Manager, Kiradi Initiatives and Nektarina Non Profit

JANUARY 2015

The kiradi initiatives over the months played a leading role in the grand fight against Ebola in the Lokomasama and Kaffu Bullom Chiefdoms. Its exemplary service delivery in facilitating the provision of free drugs, medical instruments, food rations, sensitization and education materials, sanitation materials, counseling and the shuttling of sick people to the community health care facilities was a sigh of relief for the community leaders and its immediate beneficiaries.

However, the challenge is a grand one and seems to be contained as the associations continued support would maintain the long haul in breaking the chain of transmission.

Meanwhile, despite the dwindling in national infection rates, new infections cases are reported in the Bailor and Tigbornor communities of the Yurika section in the Lokomasama chiefdom. This happened on 19 January 2015 claiming eight lives and leaving the inhabitants of these two communities at risk of catching the virus if the association does not step up proactive emergency measures as key players. There is currently restricted access to these two fishing communities with an estimated population of over five thousand. The majority of these are children.

The association’s volunteers embarks on a village-to-village and house to house search for sick people, referred to as operation surge by the president. This exercise is to get sick people out of their homes and hide out to be diagnosed and be treated for any illness.

However, unstructed interviews were conducted along the exercise to ascertain the effects of the Ebola epidemic in every aspect of the people’s daily lives and the impact this will have with regards their livelihoods.

The outcome of the operation surge saw hundreds of sick people coming out and being transported for free medical care at the ill equipped community health care facilities and the very sick ones were moved to the Ebola holding centers for further proper diagnosis.

As the general campaign against Ebola rests on avoiding body contacts, peoples compounds and gatherings coupled with other don’ts; this in a way remains a big challenge.

The peoples source of livelihood rests on working together on their farms and sharing almost insufficient materials in turns within their varied communities. They also want to care for and render the necessary traditional courtesies a sick person deserves and even so after death. These regulations though accepted were a challenge though and remains a challenge.

However, these tendencies rests on the very appalling health care services where available and where not available, have to use traditional methods to render treatment to its sick relations. Most illnesses are associated with voodoo, witchcraft or a course from some ancestral spirit. The people accept these beliefs with high esteem.

The fact is that rural people are the most deprived, they continue to languish and live in squalor despite modern medicine and technology is making life easy at some point nowadays. People continue to die from treatable illnesses because of a lack in proper health care infrastructure in these areas.

The outcome from the interviews clearly highlights the under mentioned facts and they require keen consideration for action to light up the dark cloud of untold suffering looming over our people.

  • The number of hungry people has increased… that is…. not having access or cannot afford their daily meals,
  • Seeds reserved for the farming season are been consumed, as they are not seeing any end in sight of the Ebola virus epidemic according to the inhabitants despite governments pronouncement of March 31.
  • Harvested farm products preserved is almost running out. They also had to resort to the batter system of trade to get what they do not have from others that need what they have. There has been no physical exchange of cash for transactions over the quarantine period.
  • The restricted movement of people is also a big challenge or a multiplier effect to the suffering but a step to break the chain of transmission. This has been moderately lifted of late..22/01/15
  • Children’s education has faltered. Most of the young girls are now pregnant and the other lads forced to stay around their homes without access to radio sets and other school materials to at least listen to the emergency radio teaching program for all school grades,
  • Most children fend for themselves as they lost their families from Ebola and carry the stigma of rejection by family members,
  • The lads look haggard and without proper beddings, sanitary materials for their personal hygiene and clothing
  • The rejection is not only hinged on their being Ebola survivors only but caring for them taking into consideration the hard times and the very large family sizes per household
  • People are opting to adopt these kids but the dire consequences had always being abuse of these lads and finally ending up being on the streets as street children and commercial sex workers…. This is against the associations will and the relatives of these toddlers.
  • Almost no inhabitants can afford hospital charges other than the free interim free medical care they are receiving now from the association’s facilitated scheme which may not continue if sustainable strategies are not sought.
  • Most of them have to cover long distances to reach the supported association’s health facility whilst some cannot especially the aged.
  • Some communities are dozens of kilometers away from peripheral health units except the associations’ interim arrangement is helping them out with intermittent access to health care services,
  • An unused health care facility is rendering great favor to poor ruralites as the association is bringing in nurses to render selfless service on a compassionate basis…adopting this centre by equipping it and fully managing it will be an outstanding charitable venture from the association as highlighted by most interviewees from that area.
  • Babies are malnourished and lactating mothers enduring the most of it,
  • The youth are left with no option but sitting idly by and going by the day. Some are opting for skills training if there are the provisions to become useful in society when Ebola should have gone.
  • As much as the staff are rendering selfless service; they also would require support as they all fall within the quagmire.
  • The people’s knowledge about environmental sanitation and personal hygiene is negatively questionable….what is filth, untidiness and cleanliness is hard to define in this communities.

Above all, keen consideration in the drive to proactive measures in sustaining the gains already made is appreciated …this was and is the general request of the inhabitants.

Amidst the very rough challenges, the team of volunteers continues to show resilience using every corridor or relationship to help with the very grave challenges. The response has been positive though small but plays a greater part in ameliorating the threat in a situation of nothing.

We have a pledge of a Nissan Serena …a used seven-sitter car ….from Germany but we are obliged to cover the shipping and customs charges. The person who donated the car is checking out with a shipping agency to determine the shipping charges and we are enquiring the custom tax clearance at the port when it shall arrive the Sierra Leone Port.…the cost for the shipping will be determined soon and the customs charges.

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“You Have Not come here to just enjoy Lima”

Written by Anam Gill on . Posted in Anam's blog: Global issues, Cameroon, General Information, Ghana, Green Economy, India, News, News & Updates, Publications, Regions, Sierra Leone, Take Action, Trinidad and Tobago

1017932Manuel Pulgar Vidal , President of COP20 addressing the audience in Lima

Photo Source: Google

“This is the time to take decisions…we want to give a clear and strong message that we want to take this process forward…you have not come here to just enjoy Lima…we must not accept to leave Lima with empty hands ” Manuel Pulgar Vidal said in a passionate appeal to the negotiators on the second last day of COP 20.

Vidal who was acting as the President of the conference or COP 20 (Conference of Parties) shared the disappointed of many that no progress was made on the negotiating text. With just one more day to go till the end of the conference and negotiations it was indeed saddening to see another deadlock looming on the horizon.

When we talk about global climate agreement one question that pops out is; with the global political crisis, where most countries are at war with each other both physically and otherwise, will they ever be able to negotiate in terms of climate justice?  I have been asking this question a lot and have never come across a sane explanation. In an extremely unjust world ruled by people who value profit is it even possible to talk about climate justice? Are we just fooling ourselves trying to make a difference by attending these important meetings visited by the many heads of states who are good at posing for photographs with the delegates but not drafting sound agreements?

Climate talks have remained deadlocked be it Brazil or Lima. Defeated in Brazil we thought we have a battle to fight in Lima where we may win and now we are looking forward to Paris in 2015. Is it just about wasting another year? When it comes to climate can we really afford to waste these many years? What are we waiting for?

These glorious opportunities that bring so many countries together should be made use of properly without wasting too much time, money and energy. There was an Ad-hoc Working Group on Durban Platform (ADP) at the COP 20 that was supposed to decide how various countries will contribute in the fight against climate change. The contributions that will be determined nationally are called Intended Nationally-Determined Contributions (INDCs). The INDCs will form the backbone of the global climate agreement that is expected to be finalized at the next climate conference in Paris in 2015.

Unfortunately there are disagreements existing on several issues related to INDCs. Regarding the actions that have to be taken by developed countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions before 2020 there isn’t a clear understanding. By using the jargons many countries try to get away without presenting a clear action plan. The mitigation/adaptation debate over the INDCs and whether these contributions should be put to an international review had been slow.

The frustrating slow pace of the Lima negotiations does disappoint many around the globe including the developing world that is mostly on the receiving end. Developing world is most affected by the decisions made by the developed world that even ship its waste to the global South. Also some countries in the developing world  clearly have other priorities.

According to Al Jazeera “China has said emissions will peak by 2030, while India chose to put economic growth ahead of emissions caps.”

How many more conferences and drafts do we need to understand and acknowledge the unforeseen adversity in the years to come?

AlJazeera reported :

 “ In Peru, the venue for this year’s crucial climate change conference, illegal logging continues at unprecedented rates.”

 “The capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, is a city under threat as it is sinking at a rate of seven centimetres every year. By 2030, according to experts, half of the city will be below sea level. Step Vassen reports from the Indonesian capital.”

 “In South Sudan, many people are chopping down trees just to exist. The country’s oilfields generate billions of dollars a year, but all the oil is exported, leaving millions of people to rely on wood and charcoal for fuel. The current rate of deforestation will mean no forest will be left in South Sudan within three or four decades.”

And the list goes on. The empty slogans made by the politicians demanding actions against climate change in not enough. Someone rightly said that with great power comes great responsibility. Here I would like to make an urgent appeal to the world leaders/politicians to take up this responsibility without wasting more time.

Project’s expansion

Written by Marianne on . Posted in Cameroon, General Information, Ghana, News, Sierra Leone

Nektarina Non Profit is happy to announce the expansion of the Education for Sustainability project in Africa. As we care about adapting our global approach to local contexts, having representative and partners in the countries we are active is fundamental. After contacts and fruitful discussions with local representative, three countries have been added to the project.

In Ghana, we are now working with Pet & Lisa Organization to implement the project. The Ghanaian non-profit organization, led by Peter and Lisa Obrempong, was founded in 2011 to ‘Recruit, support, educate, empower and establish the poor, needy, street and homeless children and youth in their future livelihood and career development’. The first significant event we are implementing together aims to inform and sensitize youth of the Volta Region on sustainability issues and on the need for sustainability education and practices as a way of life.

The E4S project is being implemented in Cameroon through our local representative Jean Paul Brice Affana in Yaoundé. With a solid background on tackling sustainability issues at national and international level, and experience in promoting the importance of education for sustainable development, our partner has now started the implementation of the project in Cameroon. The ‘Children and Youth Drawing Competition and Teachers’ Workshop on Education for Sustainable Development’ is ongoing.

While we were partnering with our local representative in Sierra Leone, the Ebola virus outbreak emerged and developed in the country and its neighbouring countries. The Ebola is one of the most serious viral diseases in humans. The case-fatality rate can reach 90%. The current outbreak occurring in West Africa has generated more cases and caused more deaths than previous outbreaks. A state of emergency has been declared by the president to fight the disease. All charities and volunteers have been alerted and requested to carry out sensitization, education and material support in their areas of operation as an addition to government’s efforts to government’s effort. We are supporting our local representative George Mansaray, a social worker and sustainable development teacher, in all the activities he is carrying out with communities.

You will find more information about all these activities soon on our website, facebook page and Flickr.