Alimenta la SolidaridadVenezuela has a convoluted political, economic and social situation. The present humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has placed the country in fourth for the largest food crisis in the world. The nonprofit organization  Alimenta la Solidaridad (Feed Solidarity) chooses to tackle this issue head-on.

The Situation in Venezuela

According to the World Food Program, one in every three Venezuelans require food assistance. Venezuela’s deteriorating situation has decreased the household’s access to food as well as the purchasing power of the people. In 2019, an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans suffered from food insecurity and approximately 9.3 million required immediate food assistance.

The current food dilemma is expected to worsen due to the current economic crisis. Already, the plight has increased childhood malnutrition and starvation. Children in Venezuela rarely obtain vital nutrients for proper growth and adequate cognitive development.

A Nonprofit to the Rescue

Alimenta la Solidaridad was determined to combat the rampant food insecurity in Venezuela. Since 2016, it has provided around 7,508,000 meals to Venezuelan children in need. The program started mainly in Distrito Capital, the capital’s state, but it has gradually expanded nationwide. It now operates in 14 additional states, has a total of 188 dining rooms across the national territory and gives food assistance to over 14,000 children.

The nonprofit recognizes the necessity to contribute their part to society. Alimenta la Solidaridad aims to find sustainable solutions to the food-related challenges that plague many low-income Venezuelan families. This organization works exhaustively to soften the effect of the nutritional deficiencies that many children in this program possess.

How Alimenta la Solidaridad Works

Alimenta la Solidaridad operates through donors with the help of mothers and fathers from the communities. The nonprofit gathers people willing to share their home to provide the space for community kitchens. Volunteers cook, organize the children, clean and manage the daily operations of this effort. The organization is “more than a plate of food.” When people with Alimenta la Solidaridad get together, they create a place of transformation.  Sometimes, they create activities that turn into opportunities for the development and empowerment of children. Mothers in the program also receive growth opportunities.

Alimenta la Solidaridad provides training courses that will empower the mothers. The new skills are then put right back into the organization. These mothers often end up taking one of the most important roles within the organization. They don’t only make the initiative possible, they also teach the children to grow in the values of co-responsibility, involvement and service.

Alimenta la Solidaridad aids the outside communities as well. The initiative contributes to the reduction of criminal indexes within the surrounding areas. Further, the organization promotes community organizations and volunteer work. They uplift these avenues of aid as a way to fulfill their mission of providing daily meals to children with food insecurity in Venezuela.

Hope for the Fight

Despite the painful reality in Venezuela, many efforts across the territory keep trying to find ways to help. Alimenta la Solidaridad is the perfect example of an organization that managed to provide aid despite the bleak circumstances. The nonprofit’s dedication and goodwill has developed a model based on responsibility and empowerment. This method boosts the sense of involvement and amount of voluntary service within Venezuelan communities in need. Food insecurity has met its match with the hopeful spirit of the resilient Venezuelan people.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Pixabay

Child poverty in HaitiHaiti, a small country that borders the Dominican Republic on the Hispaniola island, suffers greatly from poverty. Natural disasters, systemic inequality and diminishing economic opportunities create a dire state of extreme poverty. Specifically, child poverty in Haiti is the major poverty crisis.

Over half of Haiti’s 11.2 million population live on less than $3 a day, and malnutrition affects 65,000 children under five. Many children under 14 — over a third of Haiti’s population — do not have ready access to health care, clean water, food security or the right to fair and decent work. The question stands: What does child poverty in Haiti look like today, and what obstacles persist in ending it?

It’s easy to forget that statistics reflect the experience of real, living people. Please keep this in mind. Considering this, here are five facts about child poverty in Haiti.

The Statistical Perspective

  1.  Caloric and nutritive malnutrition affects nearly a third of children in Haiti. Out of every five children, one child is malnourished and one out of 10 is acutely malnourished. Before the age of five, one child out of 14 will die. Those who live deal with the effects of inadequate food supplies. Poor access to vital nutrients means that children are subject to poor health, growth and development.
  2. Despite Haiti’s free publication education, only half of elementary-aged children are enrolled in school. Millions of disadvantaged parents have very few with little resources to secure education for their children. This is a result of Haiti privatizing 92% of schools.
  3.  Nearly half a million children are orphaned in Haiti. A significant proportion of these “lost” children are exploited for labor in dangerous conditions. “Host households” take in children whose families cannot provide for them. Many of these children — known colloquially as “restaveks” — end up as victims of human trafficking.
  4.  Adequate health care is hard to come by in Haiti. Child immunization has stagnated at 41%. The proportion of children who die before their first birthday has risen by 2% in the last year – from 57% to 59%. HIV, tuberculosis, and a variety of other chronic, crippling diseases ail an estimated 20,000 children in Haiti, and treatment is increasingly difficult to obtain.


Haiti is particularly prone to natural disasters, in large part due to its geographical situation in the Bermuda. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake ravaged the island of Hispaniola in 2010. A slew of tropical storms, hurricanes and additional earthquakes further compromised Haiti. Nearly 10 years later, Haiti still struggles with recovering from its 2010 earthquake and hurricane Matthew alongside dealing with recent social unrest and COVID-19.

Humanitarian aid efforts are nearing an all-time high for the country, but the efficacy of these programs and endeavors has been questioned. The threats of COVID-19 aren’t the only ones Haiti must face. The future is increasingly uncertain for millions of Haitians and their children, due to equipment shortages, lack of qualified health care professionals and a worsening economic climate.

Ways to Help

What is there to do? Explore The Borgen Project’s homepage. From there, it’s easy to email and call representatives and leaders. There is the option to donate to the cause. For free, one can create momentum on social media to raise awareness about the dire situation in Haiti. A number of ways exist to combat child poverty in Haiti; it just takes action.

Henry Comes-Pritchett
Photo: Flickr


we are the world michael jackson

In 1985, Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie joined forces to write a song titled, “We are the World.” The hope was for the song to highlight the poverty crisis in Africa and generate much needed aid for the country. The song brought many artists together for a cause and actually created a legacy for other artists to follow.

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie jumped all in when it came to creating, “We are the world.” The duo handled long nights and experienced emotions of sadness and empathy during the process.

The idea behind the song came from Harry Belafonte and Ken Kragen. Belafonte a long time human rights activist wanted deeply to help the starving people of Africa, more specifically Ethiopia. At the time, Ethiopia lost over 1 million people to famine from 1983 – 1985.

Belafonte’s dream was to not only help poverty stricken Africa, but to help end hunger in the U.S. as well. The long time activists had heard of a charity song created in the UK that had great success in generating aid for Africa, thus sparking the idea for the project.

The sales for the album were shocking. Less than a week after the release the entire 800,000 copies available were sold.

The single also remained number 1 on many billboard charts for weeks and received multi-platinum status. It is said that “We are the world” is the bestselling single of all time. Over 50 musicians and artists worked on the song. Some artists include Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Tina Turner, Willie Nelson, and many others.

In total, over 63 million dollars through album and merchandise sales were made. It was agreed that 90 percent of these sales would go toward relief for Africa and 10 percent would stay in the U.S. Half of the money allocated for Africa went to emergency aid relief, such as ready-made food. The remainder went toward funding programs that would create lasting change for the country.

Thus far over 70 projects have been created in 7 countries around Africa. These projects help in areas of agriculture, fishing, water management, manufacturing and reforestation. The 10 percent set aside for the U.S. helped with hunger relief and homelessness.

Michael Jackson and the many other involved with the production of We are the World, sparked a legacy for other artists to maintain. In 2010, artists gathered to create another song for charity to raise funds for Haiti after a devastating earthquake left thousands dead and injured. The song was called “We are the World 25 for Haiti.”

The song’s lyrics from the original, “We are the World,” were revised and a rap section highlighting Haiti’s tragedy was added. Artists were able to raise money for the thousands of wounded and displaced citizens.

We are the World will continue to represent the coming together of humanity to create change for a better world. The continuation of humanitarian efforts such as this will ensure that countries faced with tragedy, whether it is disease, famine, or destruction will continue to be supported.

Amy Robinson

Sources: YouTube , The History Channel, Song Facts

Activism on YouTube
Most of the millennial generation might remember the splash that “Kony 2012” made on the Internet, a video about Joseph Kony forcing child soldiers to fight his wars for him in Uganda. Regardless of the resulting conduct of the filmmaker, the film was a digital phenomenon, shared from every social media platform known at the time. There’s no mistaking the amount of awareness that the video generated. Kony 2012 was one of the first and most viral examples of activism on YouTube.

While bingeing on Netflix or finding the latest funny videos on YouTube can waste the day away, platforms such as YouTube also provide a unique space for creativity, art and passion that can easily be tied to activism and global issues. Whether it is a specific person or an organization, a YouTube channel can be the means to a movement. Below are some channels to get started with bineging on activism on YouTube:

  • Jacksgap: While this channel isn’t currently active, all of Jack and Finn Harries’ previous videos remain online, detailing their work and travel to support different charities and issues. Their videos showcase a blend of art and activism that is very well done. Jack Harries is currently traveling in Somalia to study the effects of climate change on the impoverished country.
  • The Uncultured Project: Now a charity, this is a channel run by Shawn Ahmed, designed to raise awareness about global poverty, initially while traveling around Bangladesh. He focuses his videos on a problem as well as a solution. Ahmed sends pictures to donors so they can see the direct impact of their donations.
  • Vlogbrothers: Brothers Hank and John Green, the latter being a famous young adult author, achieved their YouTube success with the idea of Nerdfighteria, which fights the stigma of “the nerd.” However, they also created the Project for Awesome, a way for their subscribers to advocate for charities by making their own videos.
  • Engage by Uplift: This channel advocates against sexual violence in all of its different forms. It seeks to educate and raise awareness for the various aspects of the issue and calls its viewers to action in every video. In terms of activism on YouTube, this channel is upfront and consistent.
  • Tyler Oakley: Oakley focuses on LGBTQ activism by working with The Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention. Besides its activism on YouTube, his channel includes plenty of fun and light videos as well as collaborations with other users to keep viewers entertained.

While this is certainly not a comprehensive list, this list provides a basic starting point for seeing what activism on YouTube has to offer. Social media is a major part of life in modern society, and these channels have used it to make a change.

Ellie Ray

Photo: Flickr

Oxfam Launches a New Project with Celebrity Voices: "I Hear You"
In 2015, more than 65 million people were displaced because of persecution, war and human rights violations. Nations around the world agreed to accept refugees, but the backlash has been swift amidst fears of terrorism. In light of this backlash, many organizations and individuals have tried to lend a voice to the refugee crisis.

One of the organizations on the forefront of global poverty is Oxfam. For over 70 years, Oxfam has been working to create awareness about global poverty. They focus on issues that contribute to poverty including discrimination and unequal access to resources. Oxfam provides clean water, food and aid to individuals suffering from poverty around the world. In response to the refugee crisis, Oxfam created a new project called “I Hear You“.

The “I Hear You” project aims to put a voice to the refugee crisis by recruiting celebrity voices to share personal refugee stories. Each celebrity reads a real-life story. The celebrities include Margot Robbie, John Cho, Gael García Bernal, Anna Camp, Minnie Driver and Al Madrigal.

By sharing the personal narratives, Oxfam hopes to create awareness and connect people to the stories. By going beyond the numbers and the statistics, Oxfam is trying to illustrate the humanity of the people impacted most by violence and persecution around the world. Social science often touts the concept of proximity; humans have a tendency to understand and bond with those that they are closest to in their lives. By sharing these personal stories, Oxfam has the ability to create a closer proximity to the refugees, and this could foster understanding.

The video series recently debuted on the Vanity Fair website; the videos are brief but powerful. John Cho tells the story of a teacher trying desperately to deliver lessons to his students even as they live in a refugee camp. Margot Robbie’s story is about a 17-year-old girl who dreams of bettering herself through education even as she has packed up everything she owns to flee a war zone. These celebrities are shining a light on the crisis, and each story is personal. Oxfam recognizes the possibility that activism can stem from those relatable stories.

After watching the videos, viewers can reach out to Oxfam on their website or by text to see what actions they can take for refugees living in poverty and displacement around the world. In addition to collecting donations for refugees, Oxfam also appeals to those hearing the stories to pledge compassion and kindness to refugees that are relocating.

Jennifer Graham

Photo: Flickr

What is an NGO
What is an NGO? The acronym NGO stands for non-governmental organization. With only slightly more specificity, an NGO is any organization, usually non-profit, that operates independently of a government.  Contrary to common usage, the NGO title does not necessarily imply the organization works abroad; NGOs can be local, national, or international.

But apart from these literal definitions, what unique roles do NGOs serve that government aid organizations and corporations do not?

The innumerable NGOs that are working on international humanitarian issues suggest that NGOs can adapt quickly and respond to changing needs faster than government organizations which require executive and electoral approval for action. The Global Journal published a list of the top 100 most influential and effective NGOs, acknowledging famous groups such as OxFam, PATH, and Medicins Sans Frontiers.

These groups’ acclaim comes from consistent and well-organized delivery of critically important services such as medical care, environmental education and advocacy, and human rights protection.

But all NGOs are different and some are met with intense criticism for lack of transparency in budgeting or effectual action. When donating money or looking for work in the NGO world, it is always important to do your research about how much of the group’s budget goes to administrative costs and how much goes directly to the cause you care about. The website Charity Navigator is a useful resource for this.

Another important critique of NGOs is that all too often organizations staffed with Americans and Europeans come into developing nations with action plans that don’t fit the local context and end up adversely affecting their target populations. This, however, is not an inherent flaw of NGOs but rather a symptom of failing to acknowledge the importance of local expertise within the NGO framework.

Because NGO funding commonly comes from developed nations, a particularly effective model for NGOs includes using local in-country staff to plan and implement programs on the ground while working with an international board focused on fundraising, outreach, and strategic group planning.

It would be untrue to claim that NGOs are immune to political influence simply because they are not directly connected to governments; NGOs’ funding and even daily operations are subject to political approval.

For example, NGOs working to bring amnesty to political refugees will often face intense political adversity, and even violence during their in-country work. But unlike government organizations, NGOs typically have more flexibility to defy a political status quo to pursue what they believe to be important social change.

– Shelly Grimaldi

Sources: Grant Space, Miratelinc
Photo: The Design Inspiration

An energy crisis in Haiti has developed due to a high dependency on charcoal and an extremely damaged electricity sector. These challenges result in a lack of affordable and reliable electricity for Haitian businesses and individuals alike.

A Student-Led Initiative

In the summer of 2015, three students attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon traveled to Port-au-Prince, Haiti to establish a computer center at Le Villages des Petits Princes School.

The students ran a six-week computer literacy program at the center, teaching basic computer skills to Haitian youth from the surrounding area of Port-au-Prince. The youth participating in the program, ages 11-20, worked in pairs to learn how to use applications such as Microsoft Word and PowerPoint.

52 Haitian youth participated in the program last year. Currently, the computer center serves over 300 people and sustains 20 open office hours a week.

Troubles with the Center

Over the past year, complications in powering the computer center have come to light.

According to the World Bank, less than 38 percent of the Haitian population has access to electricity. Furthermore, users in Port-au-Prince who do have access to electricity only have an average of 10 hours of service per day available.

This energy crisis in Haiti leads households, schools and businesses to install costly and environmentally detrimental generators, such as the gas-powered generator used to operate the computer center at Le Villages des Petits Princes School.

Simply running the computer center requires 60 gallons of gas per month, costing nearly $240.

In order to combat complications of the energy crisis in Haiti, the Lewis and Clark students are partnering with Enersa, Haiti’s first and only designer and manufacturer of solar panels and solar appliances.

Student Creators Maintaining the Program

The Portland students are returning to Port-au-Prince in July 2016 to educate the community on renewable energy and help Enersa train locals as solar power technicians, in order to maintain the installed panels. The installed solar panels will sufficiently provide electricity for the computer center in addition to other classroom facilities at the school.

Interestingly, Valcourt Honore, one of the three Lewis and Clark students, grew up in a town within the surrounding area of Port-au-Prince.

In a program overview written by the students Honore stated, “Growing up in Carrefour-feuilles, I feel so grateful, fortunate and proud to make a difference in this neighborhood. It is such a great feeling to impact my friends’ life in a way that they have never expected; I am very grateful to have that opportunity.”

Kristyn Rohrer

Photo: Flickr


Be an advocateAn advocate can be loosely defined as someone who publicly supports a cause. On a more focused note, the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York defines an effective advocate as one who influences public policy and laws by using different strategies and information to encourage leaders to take action.

Many individuals would like to do their part to make a difference but are not sure where to start. Here are a few tips on how to be an advocate:

Know exactly what you are advocating for.

Conveying your message becomes easier when you immerse yourself into the cause and gain a thorough understanding of what you are supporting.

Garrett Swink, an advocate who uses social media as his primary advocacy tool, immersed himself into his cause by leaving the comfort of his desk and diving into the issues he was passionate about. In an article published by Connectivity, he said that immersion “provided [him] a better understanding of [his] audience and a clearer idea of how to expand it.” Although he advocated for a political figure, the same idea can and should be implemented when advocating for a cause.

Use technology to your advantage.

Online tools, such as social media platforms or YouTube, can help you be the best advocate you can be. In our modern world, technology allows you to spread messages efficiently, effectively and to large numbers of people. Know what technology your audience is mostly likely to use, then rev up the shares, likes, tweets, and posts to get the word out about your cause.

One advocate, Marvin Sapp, wasted no time implementing such modern methods. Sapp utilized the power of technology during his advocacy event by instructing attendees to contact their elected officials about his cause right then and there. In his most recent event, more than 3,500 people whipped out their phones, iPads, tablets and other devices to submit emails to their respective elected officials about supporting the Black Alliance for Educational Options.

Boil down your issue and focus your message.

A message that is concise, specific and to-the-point will make a more lasting impact.

One Jerusalem’s website is an example of effective advocacy through clear, well-written content. When creating the message, consider the audience and cater your approach to their skill level or interests. Instead of bouncing around between different approaches or angles to your message, be clear and consistent with the research you present, the solution you propose, and the “call to action” you promote.

Show the audience that you care.

An advocate who personally stands by their message motivates an audience.

Advocates who actually care don’t go unnoticed. Real people who care about real issues and solutions captivate perhaps normally apathetic audiences. Let your personal stories, non-verbals, and understanding of the cause shine through–make it known how invested you are about your message and your audience.

These are a few suggestions on how to be an advocate for a cause that is important to you. Effective advocacy can promote social change and justice in more ways than one. Advocacy is an important method of changing the world for a better tomorrow, and anyone can be an advocate–celebrities, local leaders or anyone passionate enough about a cause to do something about it.

-Julia Hettiger

Photo: Pixabay

10 Quotes To Inspire Activism Within All of Us
Throughout history, activists have played major roles in inspiring change and fighting injustice across the globe. From challenging dictatorships to opposing racism to promoting equality for women, nearly every social and political change has come about due in large part to advocacy and public engagement. With that in mind, here are 10 quotes to inspire activism within all of us.


10 Quotes to Inspire Activism


1. Malala Yousafzai

“One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen, can change the world,” Yousafzai said while giving a speech to the U.N. Youth Assembly.

Yousafzai has spent her life advocating for Pakistani women and children and fighting for access to education worldwide. The young activist recently collaborated with British journalist Christina Lamb to publish a book titled “I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said during a speech at Harvard University in 2013.

2. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“One of the great liabilities of history is that all too many people fail to remain awake through great periods of social change. Every society has its protectors of status quo and its fraternities of the indifferent who are notorious for sleeping through revolutions. Today, our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change,” King said in a speech near the Washington Monument in 1968, on the dangers of neglecting important social issues.

As a Baptist minister and social activist, King was a prominent leader of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. His speeches and legacy continue to inspire activists to pursue political and social change.

3. Anne Frank

“How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world,” Frank wrote as a child while hiding with her Jewish family from the Nazis during World War II.

Frank’s writings were later published as a book titled “Anne Frank’s Tales from the Secret Annex” and have inspired activists for decades.

4. Sir Ian McKellen

“Try and understand what part you have to play in the world in which you live. There’s more to life than you know and it’s all happening out there. Discover what part you can play and then go for it,” McKellen said.

As an accomplished and well-known actor, McKellen has used his public stance to advocate for LGBT rights across the globe for many years. In 2014, McKellen published an open letter to President Vladimir Putin in an effort to address LGBT issues in Russia.

5. Nelson Mandela

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we lived. It is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead,” Mandela said in 2002, at the 90th birthday celebration of Walter Sisulu in Johannesburg.

Mandela dedicated his life to global peacemaking. In 2009, his birthday was declared Mandela Day, an international day to promote peace, celebrate his legacy and inspire activism across the globe.

6. Sue Monk Kidd

“There’s a gap somehow between empathy and activism. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of soul force, something that emanates from a deep truth inside of us and empowers us to act. Once you identify your inner genius, you will be able to take action, whether it’s writing a check or digging a well,” Kidd said to Marie Claire.

Kidd is an accomplished author, best known for her novel-turned-film “The Secret Life of Bees” and has spent her career writing narratives that inspire women in particular.

7. Gary Zukav

“Developing compassion for Congress and politicians is a good way to begin practicing the new social activism if you want to make effective changes in the world. Perhaps the most startling new insight of all is that there is no other way to effectively change the world,” Zukav told the Huffington Post.

Zukav is a New York Times bestselling author, who is well known for advocating for compassion in politics and society.

8. Melinda Gates

“Optimism for me isn’t a passive expectation that things will get better; it’s a conviction that if we can make things better — that whatever suffering we see, no matter how bad it is, we can help people if we don’t lose hope and we don’t look away,” Gates said in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation 2014 commencement address.

Gates is a well-known philanthropist and businesswoman. She is the co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Sometimes it’s the people you can’t help who inspire you the most,” she said.

9. Bill Gates

“Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives,” Gates said in a Harvard University commencement speech.

While Gates is widely known as a co-founder of Microsoft, he has devoted much of his life to philanthropic work to promote global policy and advocacy and is also a co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

10. Kerry Washington

“Do it! What are you waiting on? Do it! Stand up for what you believe in. The world needs your voice. Whoever you are, you have something to say. Say it,” Washington told Women’s Health.

As a well-known actress, Washington has been a vocal proponent for women to stand up for causes they believe in.

“I’m really inspired by women who are unafraid to be of service around social issues,” she said.

Lauren Lewis

Sources: Anne Frank House, Bio. 1, Bio. 2, Gaiam Life, Good Reads, Huffington Post 1, Huffington Post 2, Huffington Post 3, Inc., Invisible Children, Marie Claire, Stanford News, The Washington Post, Women’s Health
Photo: Flickr

africas governance
One of the hallmarks of former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s premiership is his commitment to the development of Africa. Since leaving office in 2007, Blair continues his dedication to Africa’s poor through the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI).

In Sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 50 percent of all people live in poverty. Around 239 million Africans face food insecurity and 70 percent do not have electricity.

In 2008, AGI was founded upon a mission to establish enduring governments that will lift impoverished Africans out of poverty.

The AGI team strives to achieve this goal by working with public officials to improve their policies, strategies and capacities to affect change within their respective countries.

Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was elected in 2006, noted, “There you stand, trying to re-build a nation in an environment where everyone wants to see change take place right away…. Only you cannot because the capacity to implement whatever change you have in mind does not exist.”

Liberia is one of six African countries AGI works with. The others are Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Rwanda—where AGI was piloted.

AGI operates by working “shoulder-to-shoulder” with the highest levels of government. With a cornerstone platform of prioritization, planning and performance management, AGI tailors its programs to the specific needs of each country.

In 1994, many Rwandans fled the country or died as a result of genocide. Rwanda felt the devastating effects of the genocide for more than a decade after. In 2008, AGI came to Rwanda to help President Paul Kagame and his government put Rwanda back on a path toward development.

The initiatives AGI undertook in Rwanda were tailored to their Vision 2020 plan. Vision 2020 is the government’s plan to make Rwanda a middle-income country by 2020.

Together the AGI team and the Rwandan government developed the Strategic Capacity Building Initiative (SCBI). The SCBI paired government workers with technical experts to recognize and address the reasons why capacity building in Rwanda failed in the past.

After much research and deliberation, SCBI decided on four measures that would be the key to program implementation in the future.

These measures are priority driven, having government ownership of programs and strategies, focusing on delivery of relevant work in a real context and lastly long-term investment or, in other words, youth involvement.

Phase 1 AGI’s Program

  • Phase 1 of the program targeted energy, agriculture, mining and investment.
  • In the energy sector, Rwanda quickly took the initiative to become a world example for sustainable development.
  • In 2014, Rwanda completed the construction of East Africa’s first large-scale solar power plant.

The process of legal negotiations, considering international guidelines for best practice and leveraging long-term investment leading up to the construction took just seven months—what AGI calls, “lighting-fast by international standards.”

The plant is located about an hour outside of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Since its implementation just last year, the plant has already produced 8.5 megawatts of electricity.

This replaced expensive and dirty diesel fuel with clean and cheap solar energy which now powers 12,000 homes.

Plans for the future include increasing solar capacity to 250 megawatts, which could power close to 353,000 more homes.

Other successes from the SCBI include increased wages for farmers and a fairer mining industry. Between 2000 and 2010 Rwanda was considered one of the world’s ten fastest growing economies. Since 2007, poverty in Rwanda decreased by nearly 8 percent.

“I set up AGI to help African governments bridge the gap between plans and results, to get from power plans to power plants, from a line in a speech to a line of children outside their new school,” said Blair.

Rwanda’s successes show that it is not corruption, but a need for proper capacity building that hinders development.

The Rwanda government’s eagerness to continue with SCBI and other projects is a testament to Africa’s ability to become a world leader in raising its people out of poverty.

Celestina Radogno

Sources: Africa Governance Initiative 1, Africa Governance Initiative 2, Africa Governance Initiative 3, Africa Governance Initiative 4, Africa Governance Initiative 5, CIA World Fact Book, Huffington Post, Tony Blair, World Hunger
Photo: Diallo Kenyatta