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Neighborhood Network Scheme (Updated 12/10/15)

The idea is to restore communities in southwestern Nigeria’s poorest urban slums by facilitating connection between Neighbors

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

In urban slum southwestern Nigeria, people struggle with a lot of socio-barriers in relation to climate change. These people are often poor users of public & social services because of the bureaucratic process involved. As a result, these neighborhoods are in a typical bad condition caused by the effect of CC. Our idea is to create a platform to facilitate neighborhood engagement. We propose to train & support local citizens called “Leaders/Neighbors” who have been identified for their leadership skills & desire to engage in their community. Part digital tool, NNS will provide every NNS Leader a unique crowd-resourcing platform to collect donations, provide project updates & recruit local volunteers within their communities. Part service organization, NNS will offer grassroots fundraising, online communications & campaign planning trainings & will assign a success strategist to support every NNS Leader as a sideline coach, providing additional technical assistance as needed. Furthermore, they will go door-to-door in these communities to provide educational information, gather insight into daily challenges, and connect residents to relevant rights and services they are eligible for to tackle their environmental problems. Our team will build concrete partnerships with public sector organizations such as National Emergency Management Agency and local government institutions who have a strong need to connect with excluded inhabitants in order to fulfill their missions.

WHO BENEFITS?

This idea is targeted at the urban slum community in southwestern Nigeria. This is to facilitate effective communication and coworkship between neighborhood so that neighbors could work together with people that matters to solve their pressing challenges.There is a need to empower people to connect with the numerous efforts of public institutions, and citizen sector organizations to trigger a virtuous cycle of empowerment and a positive dynamic of community engagement.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

Community-led responses have the potential to contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions – from the smallest rural community to the centers of our big cities. The wide adoption by local authorities of targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions per capita by 2030 as part of their performance frameworks places a clear focus on delivering short-term action. Promoting climate change resilience through community networking is sure way to go. At the core of our approach is the value derived from viewing communities as active partners rather than passive recipients of services. The impact of this can be greatly enhanced with a strong local authority role as convenor, facilitator and ‘honest broker’, enabling communities to take a lead in the design and delivery of their own responses to climate change. By working with communities in this way local authorities can help to move community-led action on climate change from a niche activity to the norm. NNS aims to invite public sector organizations and local authorities to build new relationships with inhabitants. These institutions will not only benefit from better use of their services, but also receive valuable feedback to adapt their services and communication to inhabitants of marginalized, isolated or low-income communities. For example, a unique annual event could bring together local officials, public utility representatives, Neighbors and inhabitants. All these stakeholders could experience a unique, facilitated conversation and will be treated as peers, whereas they would otherwise never have met.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

We are a Nigerian based NGO. We promote, diffuse, support and initiate activities within the social innovative realm. And focus on systemic change and alternative solutions instead of incremental adaptations within the system.

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

Neighborhood Network Scheme is a new idea we brainstorm to help slum community in Nigeria. Though we have piloted other programs such as NaijaCon that help connect people from different background and religion to work together and brainstorm solutions to help their community fight the problem of BokoHaram Insurgency in Northern Nigeria. The idea was successful and showed how people could collectively solve their local challenges via peer-peer interaction. We believe using similar methodology to help slum community fight climate change would be a new step in the field across Nigeria. Our experience of working with big organizations at the national level will help us to start this initiative. Thanks to the feedbacks of the people we met during our door to door interactions that will help us to improve on the project. By initiating this project in Nigeria, we aim to create a community of inhabitants eager to better their neighborhoods that will become a strong creative force to fight CC.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?

Present solutions work in a “come to us basis” and with a lot of challenges to overcome. Meaning they offer services but tend to wait for people to come to them instead of going to the communities to work with them, understand what they feel and co-create solution. However, the neighborhood network scheme has the mission to leverage on the leadership capabilities of the local people to bring people together across lines of difference, create a web of collaboration and exchange and encourage residents from different neighborhoods, as well as institutional leaders, to work together to respond innovatively to the challenges that plague our communities. We believe we all have something to give to spur climate resilience. We need each other to thrive and create a sustainable environment. Communities are stronger when they work together. There are no quick fixes to our community issues, but new options surface when more perspectives are at the table and people stand up to be a motivating factor. That means Neighborhood network can be what you make it!

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

How can we provide seamless access to the services of all organizations through multiple points of entry to bring about climate resilience? How can we allow for real time sharing of data about the impact of the Network on the self-sufficiency of individual Network Members?

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

For a long time now, rarely did the environmental movement in Nigeria focus on positive change that either addressed small local problems or big systemic issues felt at all scales. We want to create an online tool to power thousands of offline actions for change in local slums. Moreover, we knew that most low-income neighborhoods and communities bear a disproportionate burden of environmental ills with fewer resources to address them. We want to create a tool that could serve the residents in communities that suffer from many of the comingled symptoms of common neighborhood scale issues via NNS

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?

Our team went into the field to conduct interviews and other research, talking to locals about people who influence or motivate them in their community. We were referred to community associations of which we attended their meetings. We noticed the people believed in their community association chairmen because of their wisdom but further investigation showed that they lack the motivation and tools to be a social changemaker. we got in touch with the chairmen to seek their opinions on been our program pioneers and we explained what they and the community stand to gain from the program. Throughout the last few days we have been seeking feedback from potential participants who may be our beneficiary. We had the opportunity to ask 37 individuals for feedback on this project. All 37 people questioned said they would like take part in our program in order to be well equipped to tackle the challenges of their communities. Some said they use to worry about where to get solutions to their environmental challenges such as flooding, bad roads, falling electric poles etc. They also said they were skeptical about the government because of the bureaucratic process involved in their way of doing things. However, our idea is a welcome development for them to help their community. The feedback from these people was very positive, and it leads us to believe we are on the right track with the project, and there would be interest in it.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

our goal is to support solutions created close to the problem within local slum communities in southwestern Nigeria leveraging on the leadership skills and commitment of the community members. Our step is to start by engaging the community leaders and equipping them with the NNS tools to help them create climate change resilience in their neighborhood. Within the first 6 months of the project we will recruit and train 50-100 community leaders (neighbors) and equipped them to engage effectively with their communities and providing an ongoing support and networking for them in the process.

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

Our interactions with the community highlight the importance of information; the importance of empowerment; and the role of community leaders as a resource and empowerment. we do not want to reinvent the wheel, but rather work with the communities and public sector organizations who are at the cutting edge of each service and element of our model to make their efforts work better. We intend to facilitate co-workship to solve the local challenges affecting the people. There are certain existing initiatives which the people can’t properly navigate. Our project will open up their mind to see things from different perspective thereby allowing the individual communities to grow. We are planning to develop a blue print based on our collaboration with other community organizations that can then be used by leaders in the field.

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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Rainbow Gate Team!
Below is some feedback from our experts. We look forward to reading your responses!

Have you considered whether national and local institutional actors would collaborate with this idea? If not, how will this online platform and community organisation have impact?

I would LOVE to see more of a specific strategy to address a particular need in the community. For example, what specific government service related to sanitation is in place, but NOT directly meeting the people's needs? How do you intend to address this?

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation
Team

Many thanks Chioma. First The Neighborhood Network Scheme project focuses at the neighborhood scale because of our interest in supporting comprehensive, place based change in an urban setting. By using a “place-based” rather than “issue-based approach”, the project will support people and groups in neighbourhoods to build resilience at the local level. In Ogun state, Nigeria where we intend to run a pilot of this program, we were in touch with the offices of organizations such as Federal Emergency Management Agency, State Emergency Management Agency, Ogun State Waste Management Agency, Ogun State Water Corporation, Ogun State Road Management Agency, Ogun State Ministry of Health, Ogun State Ministry of Environment and Ogun State Ministry of Community Development and Cooperatives. We received a valuable feedback and backing from this organizations and they have assured us of their readiness to build a framework with us for the successful roll out of the NNS Project. We believe this framework will lay out a roadmap for the development and operation of the network during the initial months starting from 2016. It will also set out a plan for potential activities over the course of the next 12-18 months of the project life. These activities may include additional projects, communities, and/or partners, dependent upon funding.

Secondly, In Ogun state biggest slum Abeokuta, as in other cities of the developing world, the quality of life is being diminished by uncontrolled and poorly managed solid wastes in the urban slum environment. The quality of life in Abeokuta, with respect to indiscriminate dumping of uncollected solid waste approximates an aesthetic disaster. Most water channels are blocked due to large sum of solid waste deposited in water canals leading to flooding and lose of lives during raining season. Abeokuta residents who intend to dispose of their garbage or septic tanks hygienically succeed in polluting the rivers by hiring handlers who dutifully evacuate and discharge faecal effluents into the river without treatment with the use of itinerant tankers. The Ogun state Waste Management Agency were suppose to be responsible for the proper disposal of the waste, but there exist a disconnect between the local people and the Agency. Based on our findings and the feedback received, the local people blamed the agency for inefficiency while the agency blamed the people for lack of adequate communication. But one point is clear: there is no single delegation or individuals to take responsibility of communicating with the agency in an effective manner on behalf of the community despite some communities having associations. Meaning the community leaders needs to take up more responsibility to solve their pressing challenges. Nevertheless, we think the most important thing is to bridge the gap between the local people and the agency and that’s what NNS is about. We intend to make the existing community leaders more effective by empowering them with knowledge, tools and connections needed to succeed; and also creating a network of leaders that would work together for the benefit of the people.

We believe a peer network is essential to meeting these challenges and support local efforts. Around the nation, communities are working to become resilient. These forward‐looking slums are often working in isolation from one another. They can learn from and inspire each other through a peer‐to‐peer sharing network. It has been proven again and again that communication is one of the most effective tools to spread desired knowledge and change. If they can talk together, by whatever means, these grassroots leaders can learn from each other and inspire each other. In fact, peer‐to‐peer communication among workers “in the trenches” can create a very special kind of understanding and inspiration that cannot be duplicated by other means. RGFN want to facilitate such a sharing vehicle: Neighbors Network Scheme.

In a survey carried out by our team, it was discovered that most of the streets do not have adequate refuse collection bins, hence the indiscriminate dumping of wastes on the streets. Also, the frequency of carting away the refuse was not regular where the public refuse bins were found.
In another survey, it was succinctly put that the volume of municipal wastes piled up (for disposal) will be influenced by nearness to disposal sites, accessibility, transportation facilities, street layout, composition of wastes methods and individual attitude. Our team at RGFN being acutely aware that a huge amount of resources was needed to resolve the waste disposal problem, we recently came up with a suggestion during our meeting with some of the agency directors the idea is tagged PSP programme (Private Sector Participation) in waste disposal drive. We intend to integrate the initiative into the NNS programme in collaboration with the agency and the NNS leaders.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Thanks for your detailed responses! 
Can you give us an example of community action that came out of your NaijaCon initiative? 
How many people work at Rainbow Gate? How do you envision supporting the communities you work with to bring the ideas that they come up with to life? 

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation
Team

Thanks Chioma, one major community project that came out of NaijaCon is called the “Community Dialogue Center Project” with focus on spreading the NaijaCon plans within locals in northern Nigeria. Part Neighborhood think tank, part community center and public gathering space, it is a micro project that aims in the long run to increase communication between people, and contribute to a positive change in the neighborhood in various creative ways to fight the issues of ethno-religions crisis and BokoHaram Insurgency. The project addresses these issues through programs and public discourse. Its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking visions for the community. We believe it is important that new ideas and initiatives are well anchored with the local residents, and that they feel ownership for the change that may come. Through Rainbow Gate Foundation and our volunteers from the Millennium Development Goal Community Development Service Unit of the National Youth Service Corps of Nigeria, this project has circulated in over 58 neighborhoods across northern Nigeria and the dialogue workshops has produced over 40 local projects with 10 presently ongoing especially in the northern part of Nigeria. One major impact is seeing Muslims protect Christians and Christians project Muslims during prayers. It’s the first of its kind in northern Nigeria. Peace has been restored in so many communities as there is now much understanding the Christians and Muslims. We hope to use the knowledge gained from this project to develop NNS to help struggling slum communities in southwestern Nigeria.
Secondly, Rainbow Gate Foundation team consists of 9 energetic individuals (an interdisciplinary teams of emerging talents in the areas of urbanism, architecture, art, design, science, technology, education, and sustainability), and over 100 volunteers from the National Youth Service Corps. Our goal is to increase community resilience by establishing mechanisms and incentives to facilitate and enable local risk and vulnerability reduction actions. A critical component of our model is to assist with the development of collaborative information sharing and mentoring programs to increase effective risk reduction actions. Essential to this collaboration will be the creation of a functional network by which “bottomup” innovation meets “top‐down” support while connecting communities so they may learn from each other. The Neighborhood Network Scheme will serve as this functional network bridge.
For the purposes of this project we consider grassroots efforts to be those activities that occur primarily at the local level and are driven from the bottom up. These grassroots efforts can include a wide range of interests, risk‐bearers, and stakeholders, including households, citizens, and private, nonprofit and government interests. In addition, we are considering holistic efforts to be those that involve a wide array of participants with very diverse interests, such as sustainability, capacity building, mitigation, green, development, social justice, etc.
The Neighborhood Network Scheme is being facilitated by RGFN to link together grassroots communities to reduce disaster losses and become safer, better places to live. The network is currently a pilot project that will help local communities learn from each other and inspire each other, through a peer‐to‐peer sharing network. Communities in the pilot NNS network will be able to talk together, by a variety of methods, learn what is or is not working in each place, and encourage each other to continue working to be more “resilient.”

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Thanks! Awesome that you are engaging the National Youth Corps - does that give you a new group of youth to work with annually?

Photo of RainbowGate Foundation
Team

Sure. What gave us an edge to engage with the NYSC was the fact that our Founder was the Former President of the Sustainable Millennium Development Goal Community Development Service Unit of the NYSC (formerly MDGS CD Unit). And the vision to begin Rainbow Gate Foundation starts from the same platform years ago. Therefore, we continually engage with the new and old members  each year to carry out our initiatives.

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Cool, that's great to know. Thank you!

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