Danida alumni contribute to local development

Danida Alumni Activity Grants 2018
Shea soap training was one of eight activities under the latest DAN Activity Grants. Photo: assahmillsphotography

Coconut waste as a resource, rural women in the shea nut industry, menstrual hygiene in schools and local food production; these are some of the exciting and important areas that Danida alumni were engaged in as part of the second round of Alumni Activity Grants in 2018.

By Nina Vlemmings

In this latest round of Danida Alumni Activity Grants, four out of eight projects have now been completed, leaving positive impact and stimulating valuable discussions in Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. Even though the projects were very different in scope and subject matter, each of them aimed at strengthening the local Danida alumni community whilst contributing to sustainable development and/or collaboration with Denmark. The four completed projects are summarized below.

Coconut Waste as a Resource - Convening coconut entrepreneurs in Ghana

The challenge of managing coconut waste in Ghana has grown in line with increased demand for coconut water and flesh and the proliferation of coconut businesses, all without formal sales regulations or waste management processes in place. In response to this, a team of five Danida alumni organised the workshop “Coconut Waste as a Resource – Harnessing the Potential of Coconut Waste as a Resource for Sustainable Development”.

Danida Alumni Network Ghana
Coconut based snacks were served during the break. Photo: Ato Crentsil

The purpose of the workshop was to provide a platform for initiating a roadmap towards the sustainable management of coconut waste and it convened 50 participants from Accra and Tema, including sellers and coconut residue processing firms as well as staff from the Danish Embassy, Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) and academia.

Waste companies demonstrated the use of coconut residue as a material for products as varied as activated charcoal, plant soil, mattresses and car seats. They proved how coconut husks – discarded as waste that either litters the streets or is burnt in open air – offer potential for creating sustainable businesses. Emphasis was also on discussing the challenges that currently prevent the sector from maximizing its potential economic and environmental gains. These include a lack of coconut sellers’ associations and no infrastructure connecting sellers and waste processors.

Danida Alumni Network Ghana
The workshop was organized by Nana Efua Asaam, Nana Afua Omari, Eugene Dela Sestoafia, Blissbern Owusu Peprah and Eugene Jojo Arthur. Photo: Ato Crentsil

According to workshop participant Achilles Ali, President and CEO of Eco-fiber AgroSystems, Ghana has the capacity to produce a range of products with the husks of the 30,000 tonnes of coconuts that are consumed daily, but inadequate resources and equipment are holding the industry back. (‘Ghanaian company turning coconut husk into usable products’29-01-2019).

The Deputy Ambassador of Denmark, Peter Eilshow Olesen, expressed Denmark’s willingness to support waste management solutions in Ghana. Søren Robenhagen, Head of Trade at the Danish Embassy, went on to explain that dedicated Danish financing mechanisms and investment funds can contribute to such ambitions by unlocking leading Danish technology and expertise in this area.

A key result of the workshop has been the expression of interest by coconut sellers to form cooperatives, a notion supported by AMA, with a commitment from the Danida Alumni Network Ghana to assist in this process.

You can read more about the event on the Facebook page of Denmark’s Embassy in Ghana.  

Empowering rural women in the shea nut industry – training in shea soap production, Ghana

This project’s goal was to empower rural women who produce shea butter in Tamale, northern Ghana, by developing their skills in shea soap production. The training was provided by three Danida alumni.

Danida Alumni Network Ghana
Shea soap training for rural women in Tamale organized by Rita Quist-Therson, Gervase Kuuwaabong and Enoch Yeboah Agyepong. Photo: assahmillsphotography    

The Ghanaian shea butter industry provides jobs and livelihoods for 900,000 people, with 97% of these being women in northern Ghana. However, incomes are so low that women in the industry struggle to provide for their families. This project sought to contribute a solution by extending the skills of shea soap production to women shea butter producers, giving them the opportunity to diversify their products and reach new markets.

A full day of shea soap training was delivered in the local language of Dagbani to 44 rural women in Tamale. It covered the theory and practice of shea soap production and its benefits as a livelihood. It also gave the women the chance to try their hand at making soap themselves. 

Menstrual Hygiene in schools in Uganda

The aim of the project ‘Strengthening School Menstrual Hygiene Management’ was to tackle the challenges arising from misconceptions associated with menstruation and limited access to safe sanitary facilities. These include reduced school attendance and performance as well as poor menstrual hygiene on the part of female pupils. The project was coordinated by two Danida alumni and delivered by the NGO Child Hug Uganda in partnership with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) and Lira Regional Referral Hospital.

Film credit: Brenda Apio (Project Manager with support from Esther Acio) 

Two-day training courses were conducted at three schools in Lira sub-county, central Uganda. A total of 66 individuals, including 46 pupils, were trained and they developed practical skills for making and maintaining reusable sanitary pads. Another important outcome of the project has been the reactivation of two school health clubs and the establishment of a new school health centre.

Key learnings from the project were that the schools’ inadequate sanitary facilities undermined the girls’ safety and wellbeing and that the teachers themselves had limited knowledge of menstrual hygiene and of how to counsel pupils. These key learnings are reflected in the coordinators’ recommendations for the future, such as offering separate training for teachers and supporting schools to improve sanitary facilities.

The Taste of Morogoro Food Festival, Tanzania

Two Morogoro based Danida alumni created a food festival to showcase the local produce and culinary talents of Morogoro, whilst increasing awareness and knowledge of healthy eating and food safety.

Demonstrations were delivered by students at Sokoine University of Agriculture and members of the Tanzania Horticultural Student Association. Entrepreneurs from the youth agri-business association ‘SUGECO’ and independent businesses had stalls showcasing their products. Primary school pupils participated in the festival as part of learning about nutrition and healthy eating habits.

The Taste of Morogoro Food Festival was managed by Mboka Mwanitu and Zena Mpenda.

We have uploaded the completed activity grant reports to the Danida Alumni Network portal, and they can be found here


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