Designing a Recipe for Change
Baking is the process of cooking by dry heat, in an oven. The place which about 7.6 billion of us call home is slowly becoming an “oven” with increasing record temperatures having detrimental effects on our health outcomes as well as food security which is crucial given that the world will have 1 billion more mouths to feed by 2030. Therefore, given that there is already a substantial amount of greenhouse gasses baked into the air, we need to continue to ensure that the ideas and initiatives, such as the promotion of alternative and renewable energy sources, aimed at addressing climate change are not half-baked and therefore do not become recipes for disaster. To avoid a case where too many cooks spoil the broth, the world needs a climate change recipe that is simple, effective, and more importantly, one where stakeholders have clearly defined roles so as to ensure sustainable development. Although countries have developed policies which act as menus outlining various opportunities that contribute to these climate adaptation and mitigation targets, there needs to be clear guidelines on the methods to follow to successfully realize these opportunities.
My rationale for equating my experience to that of baking is because a cake reflects the importance of a holistic approach. In baking, flour is one of the most important ingredients, but alone, it does not make a cake. Similarly, finance alone will not adequately address climate change issues let alone begin to solve them. Finance is, however, the yeast in the list of the ingredients and its optimum use has been the focus of the Blum Global Fellowship Program. I have had the opportunity to experiment with different financial models, as I am currently developing a robust cost structure, and reflect on their suitability for my project implementation plan.
When it comes to baking, it is easy to take shortcuts and assume that you can do away with a lot of the ingredients or cut corners on the method. This is very similar to what we are currently experiencing where actors often address one climate change related issue and neglect the others. For example, soil health is critical for climate mitigation efforts, but these efforts need to be complimented by addressing additional issues such as deforestation and land degradation. Acknowledging that this is by no means a piece of cake, a climate change recipe seeks to help various stakeholders driving the climate change agenda to achieve transformational change.
The Blum Global Fellowship Program has been the kitchen where I have spent the last few months trying to put together the perfect recipe that will address current global challenges including poverty and food security. Recipes often serve as guidelines and the actual baking involves consistently modifying the quantity of each ingredient to reach the required consistency. A very critical step during this program has been to identify the ingredients required for sustainable development as well as their optimal proportions. This often involved changing certain elements of my project plan to focus on addressing the problems more directly. For example, the addition of energy efficient cookstoves to reduce deforestation.
The results of my investigations are being reflected in a recipe which is being referred to as my “project implementation plan.” Despite all the similarities between baking and project design and implementation, there is however a difference. When it comes to baking, the person who is eating the cake does not necessarily have to be involved in the baking process for the cake to be a success. The contrary is true in the case of project development. The beneficiaries of the project need to be involved throughout all phases of the project for it to achieve sustainable development. My project implementation plan is anchored on a human centered design approach through the consultation of key stakeholders from problem identification to the solution phase. The project will be implemented and owned by the Beitbridge East community in Zimbabwe.
The project takes advantage of the invisible assets of the community, in the form of the strong sense of culture embedded within this local community. The main objective of my proposed project is to increase climate change resilience and reduce poverty for rural poor households in one of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable areas. This will be achieved by providing households with advanced water and energy technologies to ensure food security and environmental sustainability whilst leveraging on the experience and know-how of the private sector, NGOs, and the government.
The current suggested serving size is at district level, with plans to eventually reach an entire province and beyond. The icing on the cake here is that the proposed project positions disadvantaged groups, such as women and youth, at the forefront allowing them to play an influential role in food systems transformation. Therefore, the selection criteria for ingredients ensures that the recipe developed will “leave no one behind” by reaching the furthest first.
Will this plan flop? Well they do say that “the proof of the pudding is in the tasting” so let’s wait until then.