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World WEAvers Salon: Emmanuela Shinta and the Impacts of Palm Oil in Indonesia

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As a team and community, we feel an urgency now more than ever before to broaden our circles and bring people together. Introducing World WEAvers Salons — small, informal gatherings of friends, neighbors and community members — to provide a space for us all to learn about important issues affecting our Earth and frontline communities, as well as generate innovative solutions to meet these challenges with hope and agility. We invite you to reach out if you are interested in attending, hosting, or have an idea for a speaker/topic for an upcoming salon.
 

 

 

In a moment of global environmental crisis, Indonesia is ground zero. Widespread deforestation and related wildfires make it the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases and endanger the survival of indigenous and endemic species, including the Sumatran orangutan. Tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes, and toxic smog are causing mass migration, transforming entire communities into climate refugees. Rivers and lakes are being consumed by plastic waste, coral bleaching is destroying ocean habitats, and rising seas are swallowing islands.

In response to the onslaught of environmental threats and crises facing local communities, and by extension the world, it is the women of Indonesia who are rising to meet these challenges.

Earlier this month, WEA had the honor of hosting Emmanuela Shinta, a Dayak leader, environmentalist and filmmaker from Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo), for an intimate gathering to share how her community and environment continues to be affected by the world’s palm oil consumption.
 

 

WEA first met Shinta during Indonesia’s great Palm Oil Haze of 2015. At that time, Shinta was deeply immersed in mentoring young women activists who were passionately raising awareness about their country’s mass deforestation and burning of peat-rich rainforests to make room for mono crops of oil palm trees. This palm oil was to be used across the world in processed foods, beauty products and biofuels. In 2016, Shinta started the YOUTH ACT CAMPAIGN, a youth movement to end the forest fires and haze that have been happening for 20 years in Kalimantan.

Shinta is the founder of Ranu Welum Foundation, which works on issues of social culture, humanity, and environment in Kalimantan. She is at the forefront of taking an active and peaceful role in preserving the heritage, humanity, and environment of her community.
 

 
Learn more. Take action.

Did you know?

  • At 66 million tons annually, palm oil is the most commonly produced vegetable oil
  • Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil
  • Indonesia temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions in 2015
  • More than 700 land conflicts in Indonesia are related to the palm oil industry

 

Here are several resources for diving deeper into the impacts of palm oil on Kalimantan, and taking action in our own lives to shift our consumption habits away from this devastating industry.

 

Meet Binta: Clean Cookstove Entrepreneur and Inspiring Leader

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Binta (with glasses) at the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training.

Binta Yahaya is a member of the Women of Vision Development Initiative (WVDI), an NGO active in grassroots entrepreneurship, community mobilization and environmental advocacy in Lere Local Government, a rural town in Kaduna State, Nigeria. She was part of a team that successfully led women to advocate for changes to land inheritance laws and campaigned for political inclusion of women in wards and village councils. She also promoted tree planting for erosion control and anti-desertification campaigns, trained women to use organic manure for fertilizing farmlands to mitigate the harmful effects of chemical fertilizers, and advocated for household sanitation and personal hygiene among women in rural areas as a means of controlling the spread of communicable diseases.

Binta primarily used a traditional firewood stove for all her cooking needs but became interested in our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Training Program when she began to recognize her cooking fuel must be toxic. She said “on the top part of the stove, there is accumulated soot”, which she imagined was “dangerous to inhale.”  She became aware of the health, environmental, and livelihood problems such as air pollution, illness and disproportionate negative impacts on girls and women in her community stemming from this traditional method of cooking and wanted to bring home a solution.

Upon being selected to participate in our Clean Cookstoves Training, Binta received technical and entrepreneurship skills training, a seed grant, ongoing peer support, and access to a global network of women leaders like herself. After the first week of capacity-building training, Binta was inspired by the life-saving importance of the clean cookstove technology and immediately started selling. She returned to her community with greater knowledge of the health, safety and security risks associated with cooking with firewood and gained credibility in clean energy, clean cookstove options and utilization. By the time Binta returned for the second week of training, she had already sold 70 clean cookstoves to her local community!

Despite losing her father shortly after the second week of training, Binta managed to channel her grief and energy into becoming the first woman entrepreneur in our program to reach our target of 120 clean cookstoves sold within five months. One of Binta’s customers used to spend 200 Naira ($0.55 USD) on firewood every day but, since buying a clean cookstove, she repurposes the 150 Naira she saves every day to buy fabric for her new clothing enterprise. Another customer was frequently treated for eye irritation from prolonged exposure to smoke. Since buying a clean cookstove from Binta, her eyes are no longer irritated and she is able to save the money she previously spent on medicine.

But Binta didn’t stop there! After recognizing the primary market in her community was made up of artisanal farmers, she embarked on a complementary business venture to produce and sell charcoal briquettes made from any unused agricultural waste, which can be used by households as a clean source of fuel for cooking and heating. With the $50-120 profit she earns from selling clean cookstoves each month, she has been able to invest in new machinery for mixing, molding and cutting to help streamline the charcoal briquette making process. For perspective on the success of her business, one of these machines costs roughly $800-1,000 USD. Binta now has her own growing business and has become recognized as a leader and role model for young girls by both women and men in her community. This is especially significant in a society where women rarely hold such accolades.

Binta has also designed her own version of a clean cookstove, modeled after one of the current cookstoves on the market (Nenu cookstove). The dimensions of the stove are a bit smaller and, uniquely, has two compartments instead of one.  This extra, lower compartment gives a woman the added flexibility to bake bread or dry fish in the compartment while she is cooking. She had a prototype made by a local artisan, which she is currently testing with the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (NACC).  She gifted the first prototype to our partner, WISE (Women’s Initiative to Sustainable Environment), as a sign of gratitude. “You have already changed my life but you don’t know it…because If I had to pay for what I learned from you, I don’t think I could afford it. I have no words to say thank you.”

For more information on our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, visit our project page and to learn more about WISE’s work, please visit their website.

Olanike Olugboji on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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Olanike Olugboji, the Founder/Director of Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment, and WEA Project Lead for the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstove Project in Nigeria, recently attended the Inclusive Global Summer Institute at the Sié Center in Denver, Colorado. This gathering brings together women-identifying activists from around the world for a three day workshop that creates space for women to grow in their leadership skills for promoting peace, security, and human rights.

Olanike — who is also a WEA Founding Mother — has forged an amazing path for sustainability and economic independence for women in her community and beyond. She has initiated and held capacity building trainings for over 3,000 women to develop entrepreneurial skills to run their own Clean Cookstove businesses. These businesses provide the opportunity for women to have a positive impact on the environment, their health, and their household savings.

You can listen to Olanike speak on gender equality and women’s empowerment in this video from the Inclusive Global Leadership Summer Institute. You can also follow her initiatives on World Pulse.

“We can’t wait for leadership to be handed to us, we have what it takes. And we can move from that place of seeing ourselves as victims or people who are seeking help and change, to people who are creating change, people who are leading change. And that is why women must rise up” Olanike Olugboji.

WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves entrepreneurs take next steps in their clean energy businesses

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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The WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves entrepreneurs have been busy lately! Recently, representatives from each cookstove micro-enterprise team gathered together with our project partner WISE in Kaduna city to meet their new project financial advisor, Mrs. Regina Poto. We are thrilled to have her as an advisor because of her long tenure in the banking sector — she is a perfect fit for our WISE team!

During this meeting, the women entrepreneurs were given a refresher course on the financial topics and tools covered during our April and May training intensives. In addition, they also had the opportunity to update their business plans based on real order numbers and operating costs they’ve experienced since being in the field these past two months.

It has been so inspiring to watch these leaders grow their commitment and businesses to provide clean, safe cooking solutions to their communities!

To learn more about the WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, be sure to visit our project page!

Ripples from West Africa, a partner update from Ghana

Project: West African Women Providing Safe Water and Sanitation

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In 2010, Monica Ayomah was one of the eight local women trainers in the West African Women and Water Trainings in Ghana. We were thrilled to hear from Monica this month and learn how her leadership has unfolded over the years. Today she is a WASH trainer in Ghana, touching the lives of countless more women and spreading critical water and sanitation technologies to many.

Here’s a short clip of Monica during the training, reflecting on her role as a woman trainer and how important representation is for women in technology.

 

“They were thinking it was only men who can do construction, it was only men who can work on water for women to use.” 

The West African Women and Water Training, hosted by the Global Women’s Water Initiative (GWWI) — an initiative co-founded by WEA, A Single Drop, and Crabgrass — supported women to become entrepreneurial leaders in the WASH sector through workshops on capacity building, business development, and technical training in a range of WASH development projects. The training program also served as a platform from which women trainers could expand their training reach and capacity.

Monica trained the 15 teams on how to set up rainwater harvesting systems. Taking on that kind of leadership role, Monica said, she saw concrete ways her work could have lasting and far-reaching positive impact for other women and their communities.

“It wasn’t until I participated in a workshop,” she said, “that I realized I was empowered as a woman to empower other women to be leaders.” She explained that participating in the trainings connected her with a network of grassroots change-makers. This network helped her see how WASH intervention had the potential to empower more and more women. She saw how she could positively impact communities by providing education around safe water practices.

Monica came away from the 2010 Women and Water Trainings emboldened to carry her knowledge forward and help others gain skills, tools and confidence to realize those goals.

So, Monica started her own civil engineering firm!

Shifting professionally from masonry in private homes, Monica started a civil engineering firm and named it Won-Nyeya, meaning “God has seen” in the Builsa language. The firm works with WaterAid Ghana as a WASH construction partner and has five employees: a project officer, monitoring and evaluation officer, engineer, community development educator and a secretary. In the last few years Won-Nyeya has worked in the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta regions of Ghana to implement Water Sanitation and Hygiene services to underserved communities, schools and clinics.

Monica Ayomah started a civil engineering firm, Won-Nyeya. The firm specializes in WASH construction and always involves the women of the beneficiary communities in order to ensure their lasting efficacy and because women get things done!
Women are mobilizing local materials for the construction of water points. They also take part in the construction process so that in the future, they can also repair the water points should it develop some problems.
Won-Nyeya building an institutional latrine for a community in what Monica described as one of the poorest districts in Ghana.

Sometimes, Won-Nyeya’s work involves constructing or improving infrastructure like wells, rain harvesting systems and latrines. The firm may also be called upon to train Sanitation Management Teams or conduct WASH trainings at schools and health clubs.

Monica credits the 2010 Women and Water Training for helping her see ways to build Won-Nyeya as a firm with an effective engagement model that puts women at the center of their own community’s progress. 

“Before implementing any WASH project we ensure that women are actively involved at the awareness creation and community level planning,” Monica explains, describing strategies Won-Nyeya uses that are clear and concrete while staying flexible enough to use effectively in various communities with different needs. In fact, water and sanitation management teams that are formed have at least three women occupying executive positions, training women as pump mechanics so that they are “actively involved in community decision making.” 

A training of water and sanitation management teams to ensure sustainability of their water resources. Women are in the picture are elected as executives by the community to manage the water points.

And she is just getting started! In the future Monica hopes to develop construction and engineering programs specifically for women and girls in technical and vocational schools, as well as continue to increase access to potable water and sanitation services in underserved communities.