Knowledge Exchanges between Egypt and Somalia on Design Thinking Techniques

Knowledge Exchanges between Egypt and Somalia on Design Thinking Techniques

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Social innovation camps provide a collaborative space for citizens, civil society, academia, technical experts, government officials, international development partners, and others to share their respective skills, experiences and expertise while working together on solving complex challenges. Most importantly, they provide a participatory platform for young men and women directly affected by problems to innovate and co-design solutions to these complex challenges. Therefore, it’s a win-win situation whereby the quality of living for local populations, especially vulnerable ones, is enhanced, and jobs are created for unemployed youth.

No Poverty , Zero Hunger , Good Health and Well-Being , Quality Education , Gender Equality , Clean Water and Sanitation , Affordable and Clean Energy , Decent Work and Economic Growth , Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure , Reduced Inequalities , Sustainable Cities and Communities , Responsible Consumption and Production , Climate Action , Life below Water , Life on Land , Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions , Partnerships for the Goals

Human development work too often de-emphasizes the potential of human creativity and usually designs programs and interventions by positioning institutions as the primary change agents, overlooking the human at the center of human development. There is a pressing need, and a momentous emerging opportunity, to create alternative paths to action and social change by enabling non-traditional stakeholders to help writing a new narrative for development.

Design Thinking, a creative problem-solving process is comprised of five stages: Empathy, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. The fundamental of Design Thinking is focusing on real human needs by engaging the end-users in the design process from start to end. It’s about understanding their key needs through empathizing with the users. Moreover, it’s a less-risky process as solutions are quickly prototyped at a low-cost, tested with users, validated and re-iterated based on the feedback received.

UNDP Egypt has experience in the facilitation of social innovation camps on various themes including: reporting on violence against women, improving the livelihoods of the fishing community and design for inclusive living. UNDP Egypt supported UNDP Somalia to launch the “Innovate for Somalia” initiative, where a series of camps focused on different development themes will be organized, and local capacity built in the facilitation of the camps.
A camp on improving the dairy industry has already been implemented.

In Egypt, over 10 solutions have been implemented and social businesses established, ranging from organic biopesticide to digital educational games and a mobile app for ramps in public spaces. In Somalia, 40 youth participated in the dairy industry camp, and 9 ideas developed to enhance the dairy industry, including hydroponics, packaged milk, organic cheese and solar-powered coolers and storage. These ideas are yet to be incubated.

Somalia , Egypt

UNDP Somalia , UNDP Egypt , Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in Egypt , Ministry of Planning in Somalia , Denmark , Microsoft in Egypt , Governorate Economic and Social Revival (GESR)

UNDP Somalia , UNDP Egypt

Farmer-to-Farmer Training Center focusing on Agroecology and Seed Conservation

Farmer-to-Farmer Training Center focusing on Agroecology and Seed Conservation

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Amrita Bhoomi is a farmer-to-farmer training center where farmers can build agricultural models of autonomy in rural India. In particular, the center focuses on providing farmer-to-farmer training on agroecology and seed conservation. The center was established by farmers – it is a space where farmers, women and the youth can create and learn about ecological and socially just alternatives for autonomy in farming and food. Amrita Bhoomi is also a key ally of the Zero Budget Natural Farming agroecology movement within South Asia.

No Poverty , Zero Hunger , Climate Action , Life on Land , Build resilience of vulnerable to climate disasters , Eradicate extreme poverty , Empower smallholder farmers; connect them to markets , End hunger, especially of poor, vulnerable, infants , End malnutrition, especially in children, women, elders , Ensure sustainable, climate-resilient food systems , Safety nets for food security and nutrition , Strengthen resilience, adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards , Improve learning, capacity on climate change measures , Build capacity for climate change planning, management , Conserve, restore, sustainably use terrestrial, freshwater ecosystems , Promote fair, equitable benefits sharing , Mobilize resources for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use

There are threatening external pressures on peasant communities in India – the most unfortunate symptom of which is the epidemic of farmers’ suicides in the country. More than a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide in the last decade alone, and there is no sign of abatement. Farmers are facing extremely stressful conditions in part due to current farmer dependencies, namely expensive chemical fertilizers and fossil fuel. In addition, farmers suffer financially from poor returns on farm produce. On the ecological front, the climate crisis and water shortage has had detrimental effects on land and local communities.

Amrita Bhoomi is a young organization. It was born out of the farmer’s movement in 2013, and is a member of the Zero Budget Natural Farming movement in Karnataka.. The Zero Budget Movement is a mass-based peasant movement which has shifted the production practices of more than 100,000 farmers in Karnataka state from chemical to agroecological farming. The ZBNF movements work is fundamentally based on mass replication via training camps and farmer to farmer pedagogical practices. In this regard, Amrita Bhoomi as an important ally of this movement has carried out training for approximately 9,000 farmers on ZBNF practices in the last 4.5 years, both on its campus and across southern India.

The project is also part of the global network of farmer’s movements called Via Campesina. Through this network, it has organized exchange visits and training camps for farmers across northern India and its methods have been replicated in Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Aside from this, Amrita Bhoomi has provided training to various rural youth on agroecology, value addition, direct marketing etc. It also has a new seed center to distribute local seed varieties among farmers. focused on Zero Budget Natural Farming, a style of farming that is based on collaboration, direct farmer-to-farmer exchanges, and locally available ingredients and seeds, building social cohesion among the community members.

Amrita Bhoomi center is a place where peasants, especially rural youth,  can build models of autonomy an alternative vision to that of green revolutions, which are populating rural India. The center focuses on teaching agroecology, which relieves farmers from external inputs and genetically modified seeds.

The center provides a year-long, free training class for rural youth who can learn about agroecology, and receive hands-on skills through practicing agroecology on plots of land given to them for caretaking. The youth come from peasant families, including lower caste families, and migrated youth, who may not have any prior experience in land cultivation.

The center also provides training to women as well as carries out women-only training - such as peasant feminism, seed saving, value addition of produce, formation of self-help groups, and marketing among others. Lastly, the majority of Amrita Bhoomi’s employees and leaders of the center are women.

Photo credits: Daniel Moss


India , Sri Lanka , Nepal

Self-funded, government of Karnataka provided seed-funding, personal donations, some foundations have provided small funding

Amrita Bhoomi

Protecting forests through community based forest monitoring in Nigeria

Protecting forests through community based forest monitoring in Nigeria

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The African Research Association Managing Development in Nigeria (ARADIN) has been conducting ethnobotanical and socio-economic research, community forestry and environmental restoration using participatory research and community-driven development approach. ARADIN is currently working with over 19 communities in four Local Government Areas in northern, central and southern Cross River State in Nigeria.

No Poverty , Climate Action , Life on Land

There are serious environmental challenges that have led to substantial loss of biodiversity in Nigeria. Despite the fact that crude oil accounts for about 90% of Nigeria’s exports and more than 80% of government revenue, poverty in Nigeria has led to a near total dependence of over 90% of the rural population on forests. Currently, the deforestation rate in Nigeria is about 3.5% per year, translating to a loss of 350,000-400,000 hectares of forest land per year. Research shows the remainder forests occupy about 10 million hectares (2010). This is below the Food and Agriculture Organisation recommended national minimum and constitutes about 10% of Nigeria’s forest land area.

The reasons for Nigeria’s biodiversity degradation are various and include poor implementation and enforcement of forest legislation, unsustainable/illegal logging, bush burning, cattle grazing and infrastructural development activities. These factors have collectively supported loss of biodiversity and forest degradation.

In order to address Nigeria’s biodiversity degradation, ARADIN implemented a community-based forest management project, using a participatory and community-driven development approach to strengthen the community’s capacity to manage natural resources.

The project has as its aim to institutionalize a community-based forest monitoring programme and educate communities on sustainable forest management. In particular, ARADIN conducted preliminary visits to support the planning phase of the project. These preliminary visits included interactions with community leaders, and thereafter discussions during town hall meetings. Once feedback was gathered from the community on their interests and needs, the project was implemented. This participatory approach elicited ownership, which played a crucial role in the project’s success that guarantees sustainability. This approach also facilitated the mainstreaming of forest policy in project implementation with a view to share knowledge on community rights, access to land and land tenure system.

The community-level forest monitoring committee (CFMC) was established to monitor and report illegal logging activities. The CFMC also provides support in registering the monitoring activities to the Cross River State Forestry Commission (CRSFC), which was set up to track deforestation and forest degradation activities. These monitoring activities will feed into the UN REDD+ process, which is designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, as well as promote sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

Results Achieved:
Through this initiative, 1,200 tree seedlings were replanted on sites covering an area of 1.5hectares. In addition, 3 conservation clubs were established and climate change ambassadors received training. In addition, 74 females and 78males were trained on climate change issues across five communities. In addition, ARADIN organized 2 street rallies and an advocacy campaign to raise awareness on deforestation and forest degradation issues. Lastly, is the integration of the Forest Management Committee and Disaster Risk Reduction Committee into the Community Forest Monitoring Committee (CFMC); there is evidence that the community-based forest monitoring activities influenced policy at the community level.



African Research Association Managing Development in Nigeria (ARADIN)

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