Empowering sustainability in Ghana
Sometimes, it is not so easy for people to embrace sustainability instead of some “not so sustainable” practices which could be beneficial as far as their income is concerned.
Without a single doubt, sustainability holds the key to food security along with education, woman empowerment and gender equality. Sulemana Hibbatullah Wunpini is a gender activist fighting for women and girls’ rights while seeking for equality. She constantly seeks for opportunities to speak in public for everything she stands for in order to empower youth towards a more sustainable environment where human rights are equal for every human being. Hibbatullah works currently as Women and Youth Empowerment Coordinator at SEDARVP Ghana – a youth focused organization set up to create supportive platforms to challenge creativity in the areas of human rights and education, social change, volunteerism and rural development. Under this role, but also in the capacity of President of Sustainability Week Tamale –which is being organized to run in Ghana this October– she talks to us regarding the connection between food security and sustainability in all of its forms – aka not only environmental, but social as well.
But what exactly is Sustainability Week Tamale? It is a local team registered under Sustainability Week International (SWI) which is an international organization that initiates and supports the launch of local sustainability weeks (LSW), with the aim of turning them into independent and sustainable long-term organizations. Through this action, Sustainability Week aims at enable students to raise awareness and demand institutional changes with interesting events presented during their Sustainability Weeks.
So, what’s the concept for Tamale? What are your plans while working on this project? Which are your goals?
Through Sustainability Week Tamale, we aim to inform youth -but also people of different ages- regarding global challenges such as exploitation of natural resources, inequality, loss of biodiversity and climate crises. Sure, these are enormous chapters and we will just be having a glance at these, but the point is to start raising awareness in any possible way we can. We seek to save the planet for future generations and we are trying to do it by focusing on concrete solutions. Besides, students are the decision makers of the future. They are going to transfer knowledge and values into government, academia and business. Tamale is a small part of this world. But all together we can make a big difference.
How do you think Ghanaians will embrace this project?
Well, I believe that a lot of people will find it strange at the beginning, but as soon as we explain what sustainability is all about, they will embrace it. Of course, all of our activities -both formal and informal- will play a great part in this since they will all have to do with environmental protection – something that it plays a rather important role in peoples’ lives here in Ghana (and everywhere in the planet).
What are the challenges on the way of informing the Ghanaians on how they can embrace and promote sustainability?
Mobilization is definitely one of the challenges – how to get people together in order to spread out the message and how to explain every single thing in simplest possible form in order to understand what is all about. Human resources play a significant role during this process and that’s exactly what brings us to the second challenge which would be finding these people and giving them the proper initiatives in order to act towards the desirable direction.
Last but not least, considering the country we are living in, just one look at our economic growth and our level of development is enough to help us realize that it is not easy at all for people to embrace sustainability instead of some “not so sustainable” practices which could be beneficial as far as their income is concerned. Despite all of the above though, I am convinced that we will find the right solution in the end.
Does food security have a part on your agenda?
Of course it does! Food security can produce positive impacts as well as economic growth and job creation. It can also increase global security and stability. By promoting sustainability, we also promote food security. There is an interconnection between them and it can be explained through the three dimensions of sustainability - economic, environmental and social. Sustainable environment and agriculture contribute to increasing equity.
In many developing countries, with large numbers of small-scale family farmers and producers, the coveted development of sustainable agriculture is expected to deliver more benefits to impoverished small holders and increase the resilience of communities that are highly vulnerable to extreme weather events due to climate change.
Considering the present situation, which are the most important aspects in which we have to focus in order to promote food security for future generations?
I think, if we should actively involve the youth into agriculture and encourage them into entrepreneurship, it would be a great start. Of course, in order to succeed, financial support must be provided in everyone interested in family farming and agriculture. This, in addition to capacity building trainings on how young people can take initiatives, are the two things that could have a tremendous positive impact on peoples’ lives in Tamale as well as in any developing country of the world. That is what is missing and we are doing everything in our power in order to… find it before it is too late.
Photo (at the opening of the article): Virgyl Sowah via Unsplash
Rest of the photos: Sulemana Hibbatullah Wunpini / Caption: These photos were taken during a visit of Sedarvp Ghana which -in collaboration with Goodlife Africa and Self Solutions Ghana- visited two villages in the Kumbungu districts -“Bihi Naa Yili” and “Bong Naa Yili”- in order to sensitize people on Covid-19.