Hi Chioma, thank you for this comment! Following on from it, and based on most recent consultations with our partner YMCAs, (Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre – https://www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu/sierra-leone-urban-research-centre) and HOT (Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team – https://hotosm.org/about ; they have published an idea here: https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/urban-resilience/ideas/ramani-huria-open-map-participatory-urban-mapping-for-connected-and-resilient-communities-in-dar-es-salaam), we have rephrased our problem statement and tried to better respond to the question ‘what is the problem we want to solve’. We hope that this is clearer now – the problem that we want to solve is the limited information available for most slum dwellers around risks associated to their communities and related to climate change and what they can do about it. Radio and TV shows inform about climate changes and disasters around the world but very rarely encourage actions at the local level, with concrete examples, materials to refer to, and people to engage in discussions with. At YCI, we feel that young people can play a great role in mobilising communities, raising awareness and making a change. Youth have specific needs due to their particular age of transition but they have also many assets in terms of energy, social skills and motivation to attend and organise social events, etc., that they can use to mobilise people (their peers, their parents, their siblings, etc.) around issues that are important to them or their families. More importantly, they speak the language people want to hear, not NGO-jargon. The YMCAs in Africa, following their philosophy ‘Subject to Citezen’ (http://www.africaymca.org/empowering/our-work/subject-2-citizen/), promote this and constantly make efforts to create the right space for young people to take action. We believe that the Community Communication Centres can contribute to creating this space, specifically in slums communities. For example, youth at the Community Communication Centres will be able to develop and disseminate messages on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in simple English or local language through outreach fora and other media. The link with the OpenStreetMaps community is there to ensure information can be shared beyond the community limits and can be brought at city-wide/national level. It is for this same purpose that we have engaged with SLURC. We totally agree with you – maps cannot be the end of our idea. Maps are useful when they are used. To date, YCI supported the YMCA in Sierra Leone to establish DRR youth-based groups in Freetown. Young people members of these groups would benefit from improved mapping skills as this would strengthen their action panning processes. We also feel that the information they gather should be available for other community members at all times – not only when they carry out awareness-raising sessions or mass events. The presence of Community Communication Centres will help make this information available to anybody interested. Young people at the centres will also be able to develop leadership skills. This will benefit in two ways: on the hand, it will improve youth self-confidence which is generally quite low as demonstrated by our latest needs assessment and baseline surveys; and on the other end, it will make young people reflect on their responsibilities as citizens and will potentially challenge their stereotypes, including on gender-related issues.
Hello – apologies for the late response. Thanks for this question. There might be some sort of misunderstanding.
Our idea is not about creating a new institution; it is more about creating a space. In a couple of pictures above, you can see how a community communication centre can look like. It is basically a booth – a small stall where young people can sit or stand, keep their information sheets to hand out as well as their records of information received and their list of community members available to help on any particular issue. So in our minds and based on the experience we had with the ‘emergency’ community communication centres in Monrovia last year, during the Ebola outbreak.
Of course, as we have now also detailed in our response to Giok below, the idea is to partner up with existing ‘community structures’ as our friends in Liberia call them, and with any stakeholders or existing facility/service available that is interested in the information that can be gathered by the community communication centres for either nurture the centres or make use of the information. For example, the partnership with SDI-affiliate slum dwellers’ federations in both Liberia and Sierra Leone will ensure that information gathered is used to inform community choices about upgrading or slum developing; the partnership with SLURC will ensure that local/localised information will be linked with other information/knowledge at a wider, city level and that this information and knowledge will inform advocacy initiatives and challenge decision-making processes that affect the lives of those living in informal settlements; etc.
On the sustainability point, this is really important! Learning from the piloted Community Communication Centres show that we should invest on this and in particular in partnerships with other structures that remain in the slums beyond the end of a project. Some strategies are outlined below, in the same response to Giok I mentioned earlier.
Another lesson learnt about sustainability from the pilot experience is that stipends do not really help continue the activities. Stipends were necessary during the emergency because ‘Ebola must go’, but voluntary civic participation to fight climate change implications and reduce disaster risks is what this idea wants to promote. For example, a suggestion from Monrovia community was about involving CBOs in the management of the Community Communication Centres. The CBOs could establish a system of gifts whereby young people collecting information for the centres or participating in outreach activities would receive a gift e.g. a wrist ban, pen, copybook, etc. Youth that will bring a friend along could receive a double gift and CBOs seem supportive of this. Linking up with schools, slum dwellers’ federations as well as local CBOs will help achieving this in the long-run!
Also, our idea will be linked to other existing initiatives both in Monrovia (as part of the 5-year Liberia Country Progamme supported by Cities Alliance, Comic Relief and SDI) and in Sierra Leone (as part of the 5-year Freetown Urban Slum Initiative also supported by Comic Relief).
Thank you for your comment. This aspect of project planning is always challenging, thank you for pointing it out. I like your suggestion of using crowdfunding/ micro grant platforms such as Fiverr or Kiva. We could definitely look into training some of the volunteers to access this technology. The main challenge of course remains the internet access/connectivity, but it might be something our YMCA partners can support us with.
At the moment, we are mainly thinking of partnering up with (i) local schools that can provide human resources – our partner YMCAs facilitate Y-clubs in those schools that dealt with hygiene/sanitation issues among others topics, (ii) local councils that can provide a space/authorise the use of a space and can contribute to the low-cost maintenance of the centres – this partnership worked really well during the Ebola outbreak in Monrovia. For example, the pilot Community Communication Centres that you can see in one of the pictures above was based next to the Township hall in WestPoint, and (iii) slum dwellers’ federations (Slumdal in Liberia and FEDURP in Sierra Leone) that can also contribute human resources and ensure the sustainability of the centres – these federations, both affiliated to SDI, consist of savings groups that mobilise savings mainly to community purposes. The link to SDI website in our text above. The collaboration with academia/research institute like SLURC will also provide support, including financial, to the centres and this is where our trained youth could actually provide their skills and knowledge in exchange of remuneration/funding for the centres. There is definitely scope to explore funding opportunities linked to technology and the internet as well!
Overall, we feel that the Community Communication Centres will not require a lot of financial support. The main point/challenge will be in terms of human resources – this was what we faced during the emergency response project in Monrovia when we first piloted this idea. However, this should easily be overcome thanks to the partnerships outlines above. Also, both the YMCAs and the slum dwellers’ federations are voluntary associations that promote and foster voluntary engagement for civic purposes with quite a lot of achievements so far!