It has been a year since the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development (SDGs) were agreed upon by global leaders, which aim to end extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. The work that COCO does also works towards these goals. Global Goals week aims to make as much noise about the SDGs as possible, to make sure the world is still committed to making the goals a reality, we’re helping with this, and also using it as an opportunity to celebrate what COCO is helping to achieve!
COCO find sustainable and innovative solutions to poverty, ensuring children in remote regions in the developing world can access education. We believe that ensuring children have access to a good quality education is the best way of breaking the cycle of poverty.
One of the elements of our Schools for Life programme is food. Food is sustainably grown in a food forest providing students with nutritious food and teaching the importance of a healthy diet – meaning children are healthy and able to reach their full potential.
WAMATA is one of our newest partners in Tanzania, they are working to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS in the area – where lack of education and vulnerability mean that there is a high prevalence of HIV, and lack of knowledge on how to counter this. Women are often coerced or forced into sex for access to fish or through boredom. Community gardens are providing employment and a space to educate the community on the spread and dangers of HIV/AIDS.
Goal 4 – Quality Education
Our Schools for Life provide good quality education to the children who attend them. Hoja Secondary School in Tanzania was the model for our Schools for Life programme, and has achieved the top results in the region for the past 5 years!
Our Schools for Life ensure that girls have the same opportunities as boys. Many Maasai girls don’t go to school as their parents don’t see the value in educating girls – Olomayani Nursery in Tanzania encourages girls to attend, and currently 21 out of the 50 children at the nursery are girls.
Clean Water and Sanitation is another of the elements in our Schools for Life programme. All the schools are provided with a safe supply of water for drinking and washing, and adequate toilet blocks.
Power is the second element of our Schools for Life programme. Solar panels power lights and computers that allow children to study at night and learn valuable IT skills – and the sun is free and in abundance in Africa!
Income Generation has been really successful for the communities COCO works with, giving small loans to community members allows them to set up their own business and provides them with training and support in writing business proposals. People have set up restaurants and shops – vastly increasing their income which can be used to send their children to school, buy health supplies and food, and to grow their businesses further.
COCO listens to the communities we work with to find innovative solutions to the problems they face. At Maasai Academy in remote Maasailand, getting building materials is costly and very difficult – so disused maize sacks filled with rocks and sand to create makeshift bricks! We also support Vocational Training which teaches students practical trades such as carpentry, helping with the development of industry.
Ensuring that good quality education is accessible to all children is giving equal opportunities to children from poor families who would otherwise not be able to afford to go to school. Our Food for Fees project grows crops in sustainable agriculture gardens which is sold to the government to pay for the school fees of children from poor families.
COCO only works in rural areas, so does not work to build sustainable cities, however we work to make these rural communities resilient and sustainable through helping increase income by training in sustainable agriculture, giving small loans, and building strong buildings utilising local materials and local workers.
Sustainable agriculture training teaches farmers and communities how to increase crop yields by using cheap and sustainable techniques which are better for the environment and cheaper than chemicals bought in store. Having food forests in schools teaches children the importance of a healthy diet and how to sustainably grow crops.
Using solar power means that communities do not become reliant on fossil fuels for power and instead move straight to using renewable energy sources. Solar lamps have been given out to students and community members which can be used as a light source and to charge small devices such as mobile phones.
COCO does not work beside or near the sea, so we are not working towards most of the targets in this goal. However we do work beside Lake Victoria, where there are also problems with overfishing. We are setting up a fish pond at Mercy Primary School teaching the community about sustainable fishing. As well as this, through using natural fertilisers in sustainable agriculture farms COCO is helping to reduce the pollution which runs into lakes and rivers, and eventually seas.
Sustainable agriculture training teaches communities how to sustainably farm and diversify crops, without degrading land by over-farming or using harmful chemicals – while still increasing crop yield and income. Everybody wins!
COCO don’t work in areas of conflict, however in helping people out of poverty we are helping to counter structural violence, and injustices such as lack of access to education. One of the key components to a strong institution is transparency, which is one of COCO’s core values, we are open about how we spend money and about our mistakes and encourage our overseas partners to do the same. Everyone is free and welcome to read our accounts and impact report online.
Poverty cannot be tackled unless we work together –which is the main reason for having Global Goals. COCO work closely with Community Based Organisations in East Africa, listening to their needs, learning from them, and ensuring sustainability in everything we do. We could not achieve everything that we have without the advice of our overseas partners who provide the local knowledge – like The Hoja Project in Tanzania.