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Building Adaptive Capacities in Zambia’s Communities to fight COVID-19

The global Covid-19 pandemic has presented an unprecedented threat to humanity. It has gravely toppled life as previously known, evolving from a massive health crisis to an economic and social one with devastating outcomes. While many developing countries like Zambia continue to deploy mechanisms and interventions to try to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic, these have not been enough to offset the pandemic’s impact. The top-down approaches have been disempowering to local grassroots actors with little or no emphasis on building local capacity for sustainable community-driven solutions and outcomes.

Small glimpse into the lives of community leaders and members in vulnerable communities as they narrate their experiences and the effects of Covid-19 on their wellbeing and livelihood. This video was produced by the Zambia Institute of Mass Communications (ZAMCOM) for Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) and Lusaka City Council (LCC) with funding from NatuReS. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the BMZ, European Union or FCDO.

In seeking to “Build Back Better”, NatuReS Zambia supported the Lusaka Water Security Initiative (LuWSI) in strengthening community voice and action. LuWSI has coordinated activities that aim to promote and strengthen the response to COVID-19 prevention in communities. These efforts led by Lusaka City Council (LCC) in collaboration with Zambia Institute of Mass Communications (ZAMCOM) and Zambia Social Forum (ZAMSOF) have culminated in the development of a framework for monitoring COVID-19 response activities and capacity building, as well as COVID-19 response plans for five wards in Lusaka. A communication strategy was also developed to build capacity and create networks between journalists and communities for profiling community COVID-19 stories, including a training manual for citizen journalism.

As NatuReS Zambia, we believe in strengthening governance and supporting projects like these for a participatory approach to safeguarding the well-being of all.

Guiding Documents developed to build adaptive capacities in communities
Guiding documents developed to build adaptive capacities in communities.

Author: Sonile Mutafya, NatuReS Advisor, Zambia

Natural Resources Stewardship for Sustainable Agriculture in Tanzania

Agriculture is Tanzania’s main economic driver, providing 30% of the country’s GDP and livelihood opportunities to 70% of the population living in rural areas. As a result, this sector aids the country in reducing poverty rates by providing income-generating opportunities.

However, due to the rapid increase in population size, massive portions of land are being cleared for agricultural purposes, causing an overdependence on the available natural resources required for maintaining a balanced eco-system and controlling the adequate environmental conditions required for a habitable environment.

Conserving ecosystems while providing rural communities with income opportunities

Seeing this, partners of the Sustainable Water Management (SUWAMA) partnership in the Weruweru sub catchment in Northern Tanzania worked together to bring an alternative, aimed to help communities in these rural areas broaden their livelihood opportunities in an eco-friendly manner. The idea is to conserve the ecosystem so that it continues providing the optimal conditions for sustainable agriculture whilst providing rural communities an opportunity to generate a little more income through a #pay2grow model.

tree nursery in Tanzania
Ficus, Cordia Africana, and Markhamia Lutea seedlings ready to be planted. Copyright: GIZ/Sarah Scott

Testing this idea in the Weruweru sub-catchment, each partner took up their role responsibly by sharing tasks equally amongst themselves. A study was done by the Kilimanjaro Project in collaboration with the Pangani Basin Water Board (PBWB) and the Weruweru Water Users Association (WUA) to identify the degraded riparian hotspots in the area. After the hotspots were identified, African Plantations Kilimanjaro (APK) allocated the nursery site and water to raise 21,500 seedlings, thus enabling Kijani Pamoja to nurture the seedlings appropriately. When the seedlings were ready, Dekker Chrysanten transported 1400 of them to the identified planting sites allocated in the survey. Finally, communities from each village in the wards participated in planting these seedlings on the identified hotspots with guidance from PBWB, Local Government Authorities (LGAs) and Kijani Pamoja. The remaining 20,100 will be planted towards the end of the year 2021.

tree planting in Northern Tanzania
PBWB official (on the left) guiding the men of the Nkweshoo village on where to plant the seedlings in the 2nd riparian hotspot within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa
people planting trees in Northern Tanzania
Men and women of the Kilanya village planting trees together on the first riparian zone within the vicinity of the Weruweru river.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

These trees will be geo-tagged and closely monitored by the community through quarterly updates on the growth status. The communication will be done through a mobile application designed by Greenstand – an American NGO collaborating with Kijani Pamoja and the Kilimanjaro Project. The caretakers will take photos of these trees through the application and their existence will be justified through geo-tagging. As a reward for taking care of the trees, these caretakers will receive a small stipend from each tree. Also, educational information on the best preventative measures against COVID-19 in rural areas will be available on the application.

Tree being planted in Tanzania
One of the three tree species, Markhamia Lutea, planted in the riparian hotspots.
Copyright: GIZ/Adelaide Mkwawa

Seeing the successful collaboration between public and private sectors, civil society organisations and the community itself in the Weruweru sub-catchment shows that the natural resources stewardship approach in Tanzania has the potential to assist the government in meeting its set goals in the National Development Framework for the country’s socio-economic development.

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First Partnership Meeting of the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership

The Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area, Uganda’s economic powerhouse, is faced with destructive flash floods that pose severe socio-economic challenges to both businesses and residents of Greater Kampala.

Flooding in Industrial Area
Flooding in Kampala Central Industrial Area. Copyrihgt: KCCA/Joan Magayane

To mitigate and adapt to the current flooding challenges, government, private actors, and communities are coming together, to work collaboratively in the Greater Kampala Flood Resilience Partnership, under the Natural Resources Stewardship Programme in Uganda. This multi-stakeholder partnership brings together the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA), private sector actors, civil society organisations and other government institutions with the goal to jointly develop and promote blue-green, innovative infrastructure and inclusive solutions for improved urban resilience towards flooding in Greater Kampala. More information on what the partnership aims to achieve.

First partnership meeting in Kampala and virtually

On the 1st of September 2021, the partners kicked-off the partnership in a first meeting, which was held partially online and in person at Royal Suites Hotel, Bugolobi, Kampala. The objective of the meeting was to initiate discussions on the partner interests, partnership opportunities and agreement on the next steps in formalizing the partnership.

First partnership meeting of the Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership Kampala
Attendees of the first partnership meeting of the Greater Kampala Integrated Flood Resilience Partnership at Royal Suites Hotel, Kampala. From upper left corner to bottom right corner: Mr James Kisekka (Team Leader RAIN foundation), Mr Peter Tumuhaise (Sanitation Engineer CWIS, KCCA ), Mr Benard Nsubuga (Technical Officer GIZ NatuReS), Mr. Andrew Onwang (Environment Officer, Britannia Allied Industries Limited), Mr Allan Nkurunziza (Programme Manager CWIS, KCCA), Elena Barth (Advisor, GIZ NatuReS) Mr David Cheptoek , (Senior Water Officer, MWE), Mr. Joseph Kyalimpa (Training and Projects Manager, UMA), Ms Vanessa Tyaba (Technical Advisor GIZ NatuReS)
Copyright: GIZ/Elena Barth

During the meeting, the private sector through Uganda Manufacturers Association and Britannia Allied Industries Limited gave some insight into the flash flood challenge affecting businesses, specifically manufacturing industries. For example, a study conducted in 2019 by UMA under the Water Security Action & Investment Plan Project on water security revealed that out of 469 companies surveyed in Greater Kampala, 47 mentioned that they experienced damaging floods more than twice in every rainy season. Concrete impacts on businesses include: overflowing water ending up in production areas, resulting in damages to production materials, collapse of building infrastructure and halt of production.

Addressing the flooding challenge through a catchment-based approach was presented by the Ministry of Water and Environment, where emphasis was made on consideration of hydrological boundaries (catchment) rather than city administrative boundaries. Innovative models and solutions for flood management were presented by a civil society partner, namely RAIN foundation. Those include blue-green infrastructure solutions such as rain gardens, permeable pavements and bioswales, and case studies of similar implementation in other parts of Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda.

New ideas and solutions for flood mitigation in Kampala

In a brainstorming session, the partners were split up according to sectors (public, private, and civil society) and discussed their strategic interest in the partnership and possible interventions for the following four thematic areas: (A) Policy (B) Blue-green infrastructure solutions and investment (C) Behavioural change & stakeholder empowerment (D) cross cutting thematic areas, or any other thematic area.

Man presenting on a whiteboard
Mr. Joseph Kyalimpa (Training and Projects Manager, UMA) presenting the outcomes of the brainstorm session on the private sector’s strategic interest in the partnership and possible interventions for the four thematic areas. Copyright: GIZ/Elena Barth

The responses across sectors were very similar in the thematic areas which indicated a good start for synergy and collaboration amongst actors.

Moving ahead, partners agreed on next steps in their partnership, such as: Formalizing the partnership and partners’ commitment by submitting a letter of intent; Supporting the preliminary scoping study; Submitting their preferred activities under the partnership for the Partnership Action Plan; To meet monthly during the inception period before the official launch slated for January 2022.

Other partners in attendance included representatives from the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, ACTogether and Vivo Energy Uganda.

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Introducing low-cost technology to improve PET collection in Addis Ababa

Studies indicate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish. To sustainably counter the negative impacts of plastic on our environment and health, action is needed on all levels, with major improvements to waste management and recycling practices being pivotal to counter the current trends.

In Addis Ababa, plastic accounts for 15% of the total waste. PET, used mainly for water and soda bottles, makes up 41% of the total plastic waste generated in the city. Plastic pollution is a common problem in the city, and drainage channels are often clogged with plastic, including many PET bottles, increasing the risk for floodings.

Collected PET plastic at one of the collector association’s working stations, near the new stadium in Addis Ababa
Copyright: GIZ

Improving the collection and recycling of used plastics can contribute to alleviating plastic pollution in the city. However, many factors impede the efficiency of plastic collection and recycling. Among them are high transportation costs of unbaled plastics, a lack of space for waste collectors to sort already collected waste, as well as no access to electricity, which would allow collectors to scale up their operations by using baling machines.

Manual baling machines to improve PET collection

To counter these challenges, NatuReS has partnered up with Irish Aid and the Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency (SWMA) on a project to design and pilot manual baling machines. The aim is to improve PET collection. Baling PET significantly lowers the costs to transport plastic to processors. At the same time, waste collectors receive a 40% premium when selling baled PET. The manual baling machine, which is cheaper to procure and operate than its electric counterpart, will incentivize waste collectors to collect more PET, contributing to cleaner streets while creating additional employment opportunities in the plastic value chain.

Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Dr. Eshetu Lemma, General Manager of the Addis Ababa Solid Waste Management Agency, and James Njeru, NatuReS Country Coordinator Ethiopia (from left to right)
Copyright: GIZ