Desmond Alugnoa is a youth empowerment advocate with focus on community development, environmental conservation and climate adaptation. His work started in 2012 and has helped build the capacities of youth both in cities and in rural communities of Ghana to take meaningful actions at different levels for the environment. Identifying environmental challenges as an opportunity to create decent jobs, Desmond co-founded the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) in 2014 which is dedicated to providing solutions to pressing environmental issues through research and developing businesses out of environmental challenges. Desmond’s work uses rural innovation to raise young entrepreneurs in rural communities and to limit the threats of climate change on clean water, forest cover and food security by restoring landscapes.
Here’s Desmond in his own words, talking about GAYO’s work.
Can you tell us a bit about GAYO’s work?
GAYO’s focus on climate protection has been designed with a strong desire of achieving human development while offsetting carbon footprints of communities. Dirty and age-long practices in areas of agriculture, waste management and cooking have demonstrated to farmers, city authorities and households high levels of inefficiencies but the strength to act remained poor. With the understanding that communities are not only less endowed to place the environment and health first in their daily activities but are also greatly uninformed about the present and future consequences of their actions, GAYO have been embarking on the creation of sustainable communities through Circular Economy approaches.
What is GAYO’s approach to community development and environmental justice?
Leveraging on the resources and human capital of rural areas of Ghana to innovate solutions with global potential has proven to be one practical way to translate climate action from words into reality. Through the sustainable community projects, GAYO has been working closely with community stakeholders to provide environmental education in rural communities, efficiently manage waste by composting organics, producing artefacts from plastics and providing communities with cost-effective and energy efficient charcoal using hard-to-degrade agricultural waste.
Where does GAYO work, and what are some of the operational activities that are being undertaken?
Situated in the Adansi South of southern Ghana, the project is also helping farmers to limit the use of chemical based pesticides and fertilizers, it is helping communities to adopt sound waste management practices and at the same time helping them to avoid deforestation by supporting households with less destructive cooking fuel (charcoal briquette).
How does GAYO advocate for the empowerment of underserved communities?
Apart from transforming agriculture, solid waste management and providing charcoal briquette for household, the sustainable community’s project is creating decent employment for women and youth especially in the production side. Four women are permanently employment under the charcoal briquette section, eight girls engaged in the production of bags, raincoats among other items using plastic waste while the waste collection and education have employed seven people in total within the past two years.