Folasade drives Information Campaign on dangers of plastic bags
Plastics do not decompose easily and are a threat to the soil with huge implications for food security. Plastic bags are everywhere in our communities posing serious environmental and health issues.
Folashade Adepoju, a librarian at the National Library of Nigeria saw this problem in Abuja, Nigeria and felt compelled to disseminate information on alternatives to the use of plastic bags especially as there is an absence of regulatory policies to control the use of plastic bags, coupled with lack of information on the dangers of plastic bags and their wrong waste management practices.
Being a participant in INELI -SSAf Cohort 2 made her to understand that provision of information by libraries is a sure way of achieving the SDGs. INELI- SSAf also gave her ideas about how to engage her community and provide targeted information services that could transform her community. Her library holds series of community engagement/sensitisation sessions with children, young people and recently other community members joined to clear a waste dump riddled with plastic bags. Her library also shares learning resources on the dangers of plastic bags and trains kids on how to make simple plastic bags using Maya software for their everyday use.
Folashade spoke to over 500 kids and adults on the dangers of plastic bags during the SDGs activation programme in Abuja, Nigeria and why government should join in the fight to stop the usage. The alternatives she advocates for are the use of cloth bags, recyclable bags and paper bags for groceries and shopping. Presently, they have a video clip that is used online for disseminating information on the dangers of plastic bags – https://photos.app.goo.gl/9buxMrqdMGdhzVrB6
More people in the Abuja community are now conscious of the dangers of plastic bags. Butchers and market women are ready to change from using plastic to paper bags or cloth bags. From the feedback they received from schools, children took the message home and now discourage their parents from accepting or using plastic bags. Attitudinal change is taking place as people ask for paper bags after shopping.
Folashade says “INELI- SSAf has inculcated the zeal of transforming my community into me and has equipped me with advocacy skills. My library will continue to disseminate information about the dangers of plastic bags as well as start advocacy for regulatory policies on the matter. We have written a storybook to clearly illustrate how plastic bags endanger the environment. Thank you AfLIA. Thank you INELI - SSAf for making me a bold, visionary and environment-loving librarian”
This and more are what the INELI-SSAf program does for communities through the skilling of librarians to tackle areas of need of their communities. Your donations enable us to skill people like Folasade to support their communities and assist in achieving the SDGs.
Financial Literacy is a critical component of the UN SDG 1 “No Poverty”. As stated in Target 1-.4 “By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance”. Rural communities in peri-urban Abuja, in Nigeria, were identified as being of limited financially literacy. This hinders them from growing their wealth and become be successful farmers. This in turn prevents elimination of poverty. As a community, they are excluded financially as they lack the basic financial skills needed to navigate the world of finance, money and success life.
Okwuoma Chijioke, a librarian from the National Library of Nigeria, noted that the library, as an information hub, can be a bridge between hard working farmers and financial literacy. By helping farmers gain financial literacy skills, Okwuoma sought to ensure financial inclusion for the people of Ketti. Ketti is an agrarian community in Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Abuja. The community is not in the city centre, therefore lacks access to financial services. Women are particularly vulnerable.
Okwuoma Chidumembi Chijioke, is a library innovator undergoing a two-year life changing capacity building Program – INELI SSAf organized by Africa Library & Information Associations & Institutions (AfLIA). This is a group of thirty-two(32) librarians, selected from libraries across Africa, to drive innovations in their different communities through impactful library services. The training is tied towards achieving the Africa we want through achieving the AU 2063 agenda and United Nations SDGs.
Following her training in INELI SSAf, Okwuoma conducted a financial literacy training programme for the AMAC community in the month of May 2019. The programme was in partnership with ACCESS Bank in Abuja. The programme included financial literacy in general, training in income generation, opening of bank accounts, training on saving money, and other financial transactions. Through this programme Okwuoma helped train a total of 19 farmers, of whom 5 were women. One of the famers has testified that the programme helped them to “bank without going to city!” Mr Sunday, one of the farmers trained, is so inspired that he now aspires to become an Access Bank agent in the area! The financial literacy training has indeed transformed the farmers by removing financial exclusion and ensuring that these farmers become part of the attainment of UN SDG Goal 1 “No Poverty”. In this way Okwuoma and her library are contributing to the aspirations of the African Heads of States “to leave no one behind!”
The INELI SSAf programme is transforming librarians like Okwuoma into agents of development, which in turn transform the live hoods of communities. Your donations have made helped make librarians like Okwuoma continue with the kind of transformative work that helps bring us closer to achieving the Africa we want. Thank you for your continued support.
Rebecca brings ICT training to unleash women’s potential in Lira, Uganda
It is no secret that women are integral actors in the development of any country, yet many lack the opportunities to learn new skills to contribute to their own personal or professional growth. Titin is the Principal Officer II of the Uganda Prisons Service in Lira, Uganda. She oversees administrative tasks that keep operations smooth within the prison, but a lack of basic computer skills has made the challenging job, even more difficult. “At my senior level, [I was ashamed that] I had to incur costs of paying someone to [do] word processing for me.” On the other hand, Catherine is one of many young African women who is worried about her future. Unemployment rates are very high in Lira, and she worries that it will be difficult for her to land a job giving her limited technical skills.
Basic ICT skills can do much to help women. Yet the digital gender divide persists, as seen in developing countries where women generally have less access to the internet compared to men. Rebecca, the head librarian of the Lira Public Library understands this problem well. A very few women visit her library as most have little time away from their responsibilities of taking care of their homes and families. This motivated her to create programs that would not only encourage women in her community to visit the library more, but also help them develop their potential.
Rebecca enrolled in AfLIA’s International Network of Emerging Library Innovators-Sub Saharan Africa (INELI-SSAf) program, bringing her into contact with librarians who had a similar passion to advance their communities. In 2012, through a partnership with Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) and The National Library of Uganda, Rebecca launched a program introducing basic ICT education to women in the Lira Public Library. Through it, young women, aged 15-30, learned basic computer application skills and developed their typing skills. These new skills enabled the women to search for information online, use websites to look for job opportunities, and create résumés. Beyond this, the program creates a ripple effect, allowing the girls to help not only themselves, but their families as well, thus changing their lives for the better.
After undergoing the course, Titin was able to accomplish tasks independently. “I know word processes and I can facilitate presentations after acquiring ICT skills at Lira Public Library”. Meanwhile, Catherine was able to land a job. “I am proud”, she says. “The training has helped me get knowledge and secure a job at Bamhow Computer Centre. My fellow friends also accord me respect and I have also made [new] friends in my community”.
Your donations have made helped make librarians like Rebecca continue with the kind of transformative work that helps bring us closer to achieving the Africa we want. Thank you for continued support.
In 2018, a global report found that over 4 billion people around the world are now using the internet. The latest data also shows that nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Africa has seen the fastest growth rates, with the number of internet users across the continent rising over 20% year on year. However, many people, particularly in rural and urban poor communities, are getting left behind.
Shanitha, a librarian at the Bessie Head Library in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, saw that many members of her community not only lacked online access, but the skills to navigate the digital world. She knew that for the scholars, workers, entrepreneurs, or retirees of her community, digital literacy would be the answer to helping them become more productive members of society. As Shanitha worked for the municipality’s main public library, she realized she could help empower surrounding poor communities to thrive in the digital world. She was a participant of AfLIA’s International Network of Emerging Library Innovators Sub-Saharan Africa (INELI-SSAf) program. In it she sharpened her skills in community needs analysis! She ably created a service that offered underprivileged communities with access to digital training.
The program, in collaboration with the library’s Internet Café staff, offers training in basic computer skills in Microsoft Office, email correspondence, and writing resumes. Library users even learned how to design business cards and fliers. Thanks to the digital training, community members were able to find markets for their crops and products, gain access to government programs, search for jobs, learn new skills online, research important health issues, and even stay in touch with distant families and friends. The training has even allowed professionals to improve their work, such as educators who now use Microsoft Excel to compute and organize their students’ grades.
Shanitha’s program has been so successful that it has captured the interest of local ward councillors, NGOs, and teachers who are willing to support her initiative. Since its launch, the library has helped train 400 people to easily access information to improve their lives and adapt to the changing world.
Thank you for contributions that make it possible for Shanita to change lives!
“We were unable to read. There were no facilities that had our reading equipment,” says Tsakani, a 39-year-old blind woman from Hammanskraal, Pretoria, when asked of her experience with reading. “We were stressed thinking that to be blind was a problematic situation to be in. Life without education or knowledge is meaningless.”
For the sighted, reading is something that many take for granted. Books are almost mundane in their accessibility, and many can overlook how they play such an important role in our lives. Reading provides opportunities to develop new learning skills, boosts mental well-being, and helps in overcoming daily challenges. For the blind and visually impaired, however, obtaining a book in a format they can access is a life-long struggle. On average, a blind person in South Africa waits a minimum of 3 months for a single print copy to be converted into audio, and a minimum of 6 months for that same copy to be converted into Braille.
This struggle is recognized by Anele, a librarian at the South African Library for the Blind (SALB). A graduate of the International Network of Emerging Library Innovators - Sub-Saharan Africa (INELI-SSAf) program, Anele learned to innovate library services to address the needs of his community. Joining SALB in 2016, he utilized what he learned from INELI-SSAf to bridge the gap between the blind and accessible library services, leading a “Mini-Library” project created by SALB. Through this project, Anele helped create spaces in public libraries where the visually impaired could access materials such as audio books and Braille machines.
Tsakani, upon learning of the project, was most excited about the Victor Reader, a media player that can convert digital e-books into audio. A leader at the Mighty God Loving Center, an organization that provides skills development training to the visually impaired, Tsakani has found the Mini-Library to be a vital tool in her mission to aid her fellow blind. “The Mini-Library has made a big impact in my life,” expresses Tsakani. “It gave me hope that I can be a better person. Even my passion for helping other visually impaired people has become a reality, as now I can help them through this library.”
This impact is two-fold: Prior to joining SALB, Anele had little experience working with the blind. Being involved in the Mini-Library project has not only made him more aware of the challenges the blind face in accessing library and information services, but has also taught him greater consideration, empathy, and a passion for helping others. “Being in this project, I am part of the blind society,” Anele states. “I play my part to advocate to provinces for funding in order to expand [the Mini-Library] to more public libraries in South Africa.”
Thanks to SALB and its partnership with the South African Government, there are now 150 Mini-Libraries across the country, transforming the lives of thousands. “Coming out of an isolated space and engaging with new people in the library brought me a sense of existence,” says one user, expressing a newfound love of their community library. “Now I feel like I belong because I spend most of my time at the library.”
Through your generosity, African librarians are finding new ways to make their libraries more inclusive and welcoming spaces for everyone. With your continued support, we hope to empower more people like Tsakani and transform the lives of Africans, one library at a time.
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