Hifadhi Africa is a youth-led Organization that is ambitiously defining the scope of donor funding and sustainability of projects. The organization is made of up cohorts whose beliefs and passion for empowerment and communal liberation exceeds their professional and personal lives. They are a bunch of humanitarians with a unique perspective. They, in my view represent the current crop of African youth, most of whom aspire to champion the rise of the continent as a global superpower. These type of young Africans are sophisticated and they are aware that statistics and research is pointing towards Africa as the next growth frontier. Due to this, they not only want to be part of the success but key players in the creation of the success story.
To do this, most of African young population is involved in various community projects that seek to empower societies mostly through education and technology with the aim of leveraging human activities and market developments. The fundamental goal is to ensure participation of many hands in political and economic development of the continent including pastoral communities and the marginalized. For example in Kenya, you’ve probably heard the story of Josephine Kulea the founder of hope to many pastoral girls through her Samburu Girls Foundation or that of Jane Ngima who invented a 24/7 Free to Air Digital TV broadcasting secondary education that gives students second chance to get a KCSE certificate and move on to the profession they have always desired. It’s called Elimu TV. In Tanzania, Frederick Swai has changed fortunes for many in his community computing and office services such as printing and book binding, as well as training courses for youth using educational computer games in Mbeya.
I have worked with Hifadhi Africa since its inception and I have been part of the team involved in its policy making and projects implementation. Our vision, like those driving many of other young Africans leading the torch of empowerment is to afford equal opportunities to societies for prosperity. To accomplish this, our team has tirelessly been research on the best solutions to the societal problems that the people we’re working with face. From education to health to water, the organization has fronted life changing technologies potentially capable to jump-start Africa. Our latest breakthrough is a technology that uses an android tablets and a low cost computer system called a Raspberry Pi. A complete Raspberry Pi system costs $140, is solar powered and can be deployed in schools that have no electricity or internet access which is the case in nearly all of the schools in East Pokot that are being implemented for educational purpose. The data stored on the raspberry pi comes from an organization called World Possible, is called RACHEL (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning), is free and is continually updated. The data consists 6000 articles, 26 million words and 50,000 images making it bigger than Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia put together! Up to 35 tablets can be wi-fi’ed with three Raspberry Pi system. The goal is to provide portable e-learning platform and introduce technology to students who otherwise cannot afford it. The beauty of these systems is their simplicity and the ease of maintenance. Basically, the system has only an on/off button and a tablet that can be searched for educational material. This is a game changer.
Apart from that, the organization is also fronting new ways of water accessibility to communities. This is an area that we’ve invested time and research to and the out come has been outstanding. More interesting is the study of underground waters which often touches on rock formation, movement and components.
The research has so far zeroed inn in East Pokot District in the Great Rift Valley region. Through this initiative, we’ve gotten to know about government policies and the general complexity of the sector. We’ve also gotten to know the need for water and why it was branded as “life” in the phrase water is life. It’s the most precious and sort after commodity in this region. With unreliable rain patterns and 67% absolute poverty rate, no one has enough water to wash hands. The few who have depend on underground as the source, not the skies. The average distance to the nearest water point is 15 KM and the average time for households to fetch drinking water is 165 minutes. Only .03% (136 Hectares) of East Pokot Land is used for agricultural purposes currently and water would have a tremendous impact on providing land that could grow food for a population that has 56% food poverty rate. That means 56% of the population lives without adequate food. Our model is simple, to supportive infrastructure, basic services and ability to access water and further irrigation.
The challenge is, underground water in the Great Rift Valley is different. Out of 6 boreholes sunk in the larger Silale Location of East Pokot District, only one, at Nakoko has clean, fresh water good for human consumption. The rest have high temperatures of between 40-700C, high fluorine and brown coloration. Due to rock movement, the danger of losing underground source, thereby rendering a newly invested borehole dry is imminent. Also, the likeliness of finding salty water just mere meters away from a fresh water source is amazing. You need to do your homework to hit the jackpot.
Simply put, the challenges facing Young Africans trying to make an impact and/ or those communities trying to rescue themselves from jaws of poverty to benefit from the forecasted inflow of $150 billion into Africa by 2015, and consumer spending of up to $1.4 trillion by 2020 is camouflaged in different and scary faces. The strategy is to start from the basics, which is creating some form of social organization. It’s an informed strategy because we believe that Africa is transforming in a way no-one thought possible years ago and suddenly a whole new future is within reach.
The future we are talking about won’t benefit Africans if it gets us unprepared. It will not benefit us if few countries, communities or class of people or even section of the continent only feels it. We at Hifadhi Africa are striving to empower the marginalized and the poor in our midst to rise to a level that they too can position themselves and share the fruit of the bright future. Why shouldn’t everyone have a profitable role in that future? Why shouldn’t we put in place structures that will ensure that our schools are churning out job creators? Why shouldn’t our actions encourage entrepreneurial mindsets?
These things are possible. Like in Europe where rise of societies is attributed mainly to good governance and entrepreneurial spirit, basic steps need to be covered in Africa. This is why our young people need to spearhead this revolution. We have the energy. We keep transforming lives every day despite mountable challenges-just like the sweet scenery that welcomes you upon arriving at Rift Valley Escarpment, though its underground is the exact opposite.