'It starts with where you are and with what you have' - Judyannet Muchiri, NAYD social media editor

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Rural Africa

Summary of the Google Hangout Tue 1st March 2016 on the topic ‘Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Rural Africa’ , presented by Paul Shaw, NAYD steering group leader in discussion with the #NAYDSDGs team from Cameroon and Francis Maberi of African Monitor/Voice Africa’s Future. Supplementary information to the hangout is shown in italics.

The introduction to the hangout is to the left, the live hangout can be seen here

What are your experiences with the SDGs so far?
Knowledge of the SDGs is very low in rural communities, partly because the SDG documents are only in French and English yet there are lots of different dialects in Cameroon and largely by the absence of communication tools. Therefore, majority of community members cannot access this information . There is no system in learning institutions for teaching the SDGs, yet the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said the youth are central to success in the implementation of the SDGs. Should the schools consider embedding the SDGs as a core part of the curriculum? It is imperative for the network to illustrate the necessity for the inclusion of the SDGs in school curriculum especially in Primary and Secondary schools. There are already existing gaps in schools that such embedding will address such as peace education, sexual reproductive health rights education, entrepreneurship etc. On-going development activities conducted either by civil society organizations or rural communities themselves continue and all are relevant to the SDGs but there are no indicators/systems to measure them against. Cameroon has over 12 priorities but poverty, hunger, access to drinking water, good health and well-being, and climate change action are key,  (SDGs 1, 2, 3, 6, 13). We experience constrains on farming especially in the North that prompts famine. Other SDGs (at most 12 out of the 17) are relevant to the rest of different Cameroonian rural communities.

What efforts have you made at the community level?
As part of Tanda’s organisation (EPDA Cameroon) efforts to empower rural communities include our plan to print and distribute T-shirts with the SDGs inscribed on them, translate the SDGs into local languages to raise awareness and create visibility, align SDGs with rural community priorities, support access to safe drinking water by local communities through building community water supply schemes, training on governance and protecting vital water supply landscapes (tree planting around watersheds and catchments). Promotion of peace will be mainstreamed, not just in terms of war but also inner mind, to engender a culture of non-violence. Land tenure issues and gender inequalities are major problems that create conflicts. Efforts will be optimized and use the celebration of the International Day of Peace, 21st September, to showcase some of our best practices. The SDGs will hardly be successful unless peace is a priority in local, national and international agenda. We will also embark on youth entrepreneurship in rural areas focusing on value chain development especially poultry, aquaculture, beekeeping, maize cultivation. Seminars and conferences on mainstreaming youths in the SDGs have been and will be organised to disseminate information on the SDGs and the means to implement them.

How do you align on-going key community activities and National Development Plans with the SDGs?
The Cameroon team has a representative from the Ministry of Town Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT)  on their team to help. For instance HIV programs can be aligned to SDG 3 - Health. We plan to organize a national forum on sustainable development goals to get responses from government representatives, private sector and civil society activists regarding the implementation of SDGs as upheld by NAYD to foster accountability in African governments. The Cameroonian team is an asset already and we believe that the network on SDGs will make continental voices louder and stronger for advocating for the implementation of the SDGs and support to youth-led initiatives. Therefore country teams would better engage in facilitation of development initiatives in the rural communities which will give them practical possibilities to measure the impacts based on agreed indicators and SDGs parameters. Also in-country resource mobilization is central to this work and support by the continental network (NAYD) would be far reaching.

What challenges have you experienced while trying to implement the SDGs?
Political environment, corruption and poor rural mobile/internet coverage are all hindrances to development. Uganda had social media turned off for 2 weeks and development activists had their movement and activities monitored.  All the fast rush for modern technologies is relegating traditional/community communication and networking tools (drums, gongs, town criers, traditional meeting houses, etc) to the background and making exchange of information challenging for most rural villages. The existence of many ethnic groups with many different dialects is also a big hindrance. Also, the difficult to access road networks make it difficult for development facilitators to access rural communities to implement and/or measure development outcomes. The near absence of CBOs in most of the rural communities is a problem and worse is the fact that governance challenges in the CBOs that exist make them almost ineffective in functioning and operation. The fact that many CSOs and NGOs involved in development are not interested to collaborate with others makes  things a little difficult as the work will either be partially done or done repeatedly in certain areas with little or no results. In some communities here, it would be a bit difficult as the young people have little or no time to spare for extra knowledge out of school. They prefer social activities that yield no direct fruits in community development. Many are discouraged by the present economic situation and have concluded that learning has no place  in their lives, so when called for trainings like this, they will come if promises of food and drinks are made. At the level of schools, most private schools are reluctant in involving CSOs/NGOs aimed at educating the youths on the SDGs either out of ignorance or negligence.

Sensitization is key to getting rural youths engaged in development. People have to commit themselves. Poverty Hearing Sessions where community meetings or village Hall dialogues are held is also an important approach.  Leadership skills are key - can encourage mushroom cultivation, maize cultivation, bee keeping, aquaculture (SDG 8). Money doesn’t have to be a priority for many development activities though obviously essential for infrastructure projects (SDG 9).

What are the advantages of youth networks?
Makes the voice of the youth louder, international and can help to push governments through lobbying and collective advocacy as well as strengthening national teams by providing support. The idea of national and continental teams is good for the youth. It can also encourage other youth-led networks to be part of the team and identify associations working in rural areas. The #NAYDSDG teams will need capacity building as well. Identified tailored capacity building modules for country teams will facilitate their involvement at all levels. Youth networks help in the fact that it is a give and take one shares one’s experiences and learns from others. United strength also yields better results than individual work.

The hangout can be seen here
Google Hangout team 


  1. These are some great insights to the realities of empowering rural communities with the SDGs in Cameroon. #NAYDSDGs is initially focussed on SDG17 - partnership. All efforts are being made to build committed, gender equal, focussed teams supported by regional, continental and global organisations.

  2. Teach a child he to fish and not how to eat fish. Great thanks to the NAYD Cameroon team for these they have been doing. Was Not aware that such a team has been existing at my disposal to foster sustainability through youth initiatives. It have been privately involve in many projects and activities towards encouraging the concept of sustainability but gas not really been perfecting in my views since I didn't get access to a good platform to work with. Will be very fearfully if am given the opportunity to integrate with NAYD as a practitioner to promote through empowering more youths on sustainability. How and what can I do to support your visi?