Combatting Climate Change from Wales to Africa

Thursday 30 March 2017

Photo: ©Community Carbon Link

Donald Trump may not believe in climate change, but it’s not a matter of debate for rural African small-scale farmers. They are already hit hard by climate change as temperatures rise, the rains fail and seasons change.

Africans are leading efforts, across the continent, to adapt and prosper in a changing climate. With support from Hub Cymru Africa and funding from Welsh Government, people from around Wales are rolling up their sleeves to help too.

Bursting with energy and innovative ideas, they are supporting communities through a series of ground-breaking projects to slow down climate change and help those on the front line adapt.

Ru Hartwell from Community Carbon Link in Lampeter, is working with the Giriama tribe in Bore, Eastern Kenya to protect and conserve tropical forest.

Ru says “We’ve been working together since 2007 with local children, elders, mothers as well as volunteers from Wales to protect and conserve more than 300,000 tropical trees”.

“Forests don’t just help calm climate change, though, they provide food and protect communities from flooding and landslides. Our next project together is to develop new ways to earn a living to change the way people use the forest to move away from charcoal burning.”

It’s often women, however, who are hit hardest by climate change and they’re responsible for growing the majority of food crops. In Ghana, for example, women grow 70% of the nation’s food.

Women are also more likely to be working in isolated rural communities caring for children as men move to cities to find work. So it’s no coincidence that lots of the Wales Africa projects are led by women and work with women.

Mothers in a drought-stricken Zimbabwe community were previously surviving by picking wild fruit.

Now they are feeding their families through new gardening techniques, fruit trees, water tanks and bore holes thanks to the tireless positivity and determination of Martha Musonza Holman, Founder of Love Zimbabwe.

This Fair Trade charity with its home in the Brecon Beacons and its heart in Zimbabwe, works with women in Chinamhora village near Harare. Since Zimbabwe is facing its second year of drought, the whole community’s health is affected as less food grows in dry soil, and what is available in the market is unaffordable.

Martha has responded with more energy and positivity than ever to keep children in school, food in their tummies and cash coming in. Martha says “As well as selling fairly traded handicrafts, we’ve built key-hole gardens together as they are more productive than a normal garden and they can provide a family with up to three meals a day.”

Key-hole gardens are a tried and tested way to grow vegetables in poor soil and water scarce environments. A clever permaculture design of a raised bed around a central compost where ash from the cook fire, household waste water and all food scraps are deposited, provides constant nutrition for growing vegetables.

Bridgend-based retired health visitor Deana Owen, heads up the kitchen-table charity Friends of Monze. Almost half the population of Monze in southern Zambia is undernourished as climate change has caused poor harvests and the soil is badly degraded.

Deana says: “my love for Zambia began when I was nursing there years ago. Now when I go back, I work with local organisations and together we’re transforming a barren schoolyard into a drought-resilient ‘food forest’. It’s soon to be full of fruit trees and already growing a range of vegetables so now the children are eating more nutritious meals.”

As the rains fail and the water table falls, irrigation and water harvesting practices are needed so people can grow crops and raise animals. The Acacia Partnership from Cardiff, is working with Songhai women and market gardeners in Gorom Gorom, Burkina Faso, to repair the ‘bouli’ – a traditional reservoir for families, livestock and market gardens.

Steve Knapton, from Acacia says: “We’re working in the drought-prone transition zone between Africa’s Sahara desert and its lush savannahs of the south, so good water conservation and management ensures that families, animals and gardens have what they need through a mix of wells, rain-water harvesting and the use of troughs.”

But it isn’t just adapting to and mitigating climate change, rural communities need green infrastructure too. Giakonda IT from Swansea have helped get several rural Zambian communities online and learning in a carbon-neutral way.

Wendy Kirkman from Giakonda says “Over the last two years, we’ve installed low-energy consumption Raspberry Pi computers, Wi-Fi routers, e-learning resources, lighting and battery packs. It’s meant that school children, teachers and community members are online, tech-savvy and learning… even after the sun goes down on the savannah!”

We still need to take action to reduce our emissions of the greenhouse gases which are causing climate change to help prevent the situation getting much worse. But it is clear that climate change is here to stay and, while we must all learn to adapt to it, those hit hardest in rural sub-Saharan Africa need our support.

Community groups in Wales and Africa are now standing together to tackle the problem. Some incredible individuals around Wales with the support of Hub Cymru Africa and funds from Welsh Government, are responding to the challenge to adapt, protect and preserve our natural resources so that people, their livelihoods and their futures are protected.

Hannah Sheppard, Hub Cymru Africa, Grants and Policy Manager

Business Development for African Diaspora in Wales

Tuesday 17 January 2017

This Saturday (21st of January 2017), the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) welcomes the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) to Cardiff for a business development day with members of the African diaspora in Wales.

The day will include the launch of the Diaspora Finance Investment (DFI), a programme funded by Comic Relief aimed at creating opportunities for African Diaspora businesses in Wales and across the UK.

AFFORD (who are managing the Comic Relief funding) are recruiting UK registered diaspora businesses to participate in the Business Planning Competition, an opportunity for business working in Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe to receive up to £30,000 (with a £7,500 matched contribution) towards their business.

Fadhili Maghiya, Project Coordinator for SSAP said: “Many members of the diaspora community here in Wales have a keen interest in business and are engaged in business and social development activities both here in Wales and in their respective countries of origin.

“Encouraging business activities between Wales and countries in Africa, can lead to job creation and mutually beneficial relations that help develop the economies of both countries.”

The event is free to attend and will be followed by an afternoon panel discussion on diaspora investment and enterprise in Wales and Africa.

Prominent business owners from the diaspora community and beyond will be invited to the event to share their experiences of doing business in Wales and Africa.

The session will explore ways on how we can support African diaspora interested in opening businesses in both places.

To attend the event or for more information visit: 

The Sub Sahara Advisory Panel is a member of Hub Cymru Africa which is funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.

The Common Ground Initiative supports the work of African diaspora communities engaged in international development. It is co-funded by Comic Relief and UK aid, and managed by Comic Relief.

How about FAIRTRADE Gold, Frankincense & Myrrh?

Tuesday 20 December 2016

(A gold miner worker showing some old the gold ore at a soon to be Fairtrade Gold Mine, photo by Ffion Storer Jones)

This time of year, gold sparkles everywhere; from the gift of the three wise men, to the tinsel decorating the tree and golden jewellery given to precious loved ones.

But this festive period we have an opportunity to look at gold a little differently. Small-scale gold mining provides a livelihood to over a million people worldwide and that sparkle can often be a little dimmed when we realize where that gold has come from.

During a visit to Tanzania in May, Ffion Storer Jones from Llanfyllin in Mid Wales and works for Fair Trade Wales (part of the Hub Cymru Africa partnership) visited the gold mines near Geita, in the northern part of the country. There, she witnessed the daily challenges and risks that workers face to meet the growing global demand for this lucrative material.

Gold mining can be split into two categories; large scale and small scale; the large scale are largely corporate run and foreign based, the small scale are more rural and domestic. Ffion spent her time focusing on two small scale mines that were distinctively different.

Ffion said: “At the first mine, when I arrived, I saw children playing near huge excavating holes and men entering and exiting them with little or no protection – no hard hats and barefoot in flip flops or just in basic pumps. Groups of women were bent double processing gold – either hacking at the huge rocks until they were pebble sized, or inhaling toxic mercury from bowls that process the gold, sadly the very same bowls could easily double up to serve rice in later in the day.

“I watched the scenes unfold, feeling sick to my stomach – watching this community suffocate under the blanket of rusty coloured dust.”

At the second site Ffion visited, in stark contrast to the first, she was greeted by men with hard hats and boots. Winches were on hand to assist in the extraction of gold and a series of ladders within the mines assisted the workers to get in and out safely.

The 400 strong work force were provided with a meal in their shift –bringing a greater gender balance to the site and employment for local women as cooks. Greater safety precautions and processes with mercury were evident, and the mine was improving their use of newer and safer technology.

The latter of the two sites is working towards Fairtrade certification, so that when you make that choice you know that the people behind your gold jewellery or the gold that makes your phone work have had a fair deal.

Fairtrade certifying is getting to grips with the social, economic and environmental aspects of small-scale gold mining, and offers a scheme that allows for small-scale mining to become a tool for sustainable development.

Like the three wise men, be wise this festive period and make a choice that supports those who are working hard to produce the gold you buy. You don’t have to pay an astronomical price or travel far to find your Fairtrade gold either, even high street shops like Argos are stocking the rings and there are plenty of online suppliers you can order from.

If you would like to know more about Fairtrade gold visit: 

Mid Wales Fair Trade Celebration

Tuesday 15 November 2016

(Nimrod Wambette a Ugandan Fair Trade Coffee farmer who visited Aberystwyth earlier this year)

This Saturday (19th November), Fair Trade Wales will be joined at the Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth by the Fairtrade Foundation, the Co-op* and Aberystwyth University to celebrate the area’s ongoing commitment to Fair Trade.

The celebration is a timely one; with both Aberystwyth University and University of Wales Trinity St David’s (UWTSD) successful in recently renewing their statuses as Fairtrade universities.

Angela Jones, Hospitality Services at Aberystwyth University said: “We’re delighted that Aberystwyth University has retained its status as a Fairtrade University. It’s important to demonstrate our commitment to farmers, both locally and globally.

“Fairtrade is a great example of our global commitment and we work together with Aberystwyth Arts Centre and the Student’s Union to embed Fairtrade throughout the campus.”

Fairtrade Universities in Wales played an important role in helping Wales establish itself as the World’s first Fairtrade Nation in 2008.

Representatives from Fair Trade Wales and the Fairtrade Foundation will present their experiences of meeting Fair Trade farmers and workers from all corners of the globe that help produce our everyday commodities; from the global cotton industry to wine and olives of Lebanon to Ugandan Coffee and Tanzanian gold. There will also be opportunities to ask questions and discuss topical issues.

Elen Jones, National Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales said: “There will be lots of activities centred on Fair Trade, with an array of market stalls from Oxfam to Traidcraft and Fair Trade delicacies from local Treehouse café. Come along to get started on your Christmas shopping, meet fellow fair trade supporters and learn more about the people behind the products we buy.”

The event will be held at the Morlan Centre in Aberystwyth (10am - 2pm) and is free to attend for all. The University will also provide free tea and coffee on the day as part of their fair trade commitment.

Fair Trade Wales is part of the Hub Cymru Africa partnership which is supported by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.

Celebrating International Development in Wales

Wednesday 26 October 2016

(Contributors at this year's Summit)

October marks the 10 year anniversary of the Welsh Governments Wales for Africa programme. With over 350 groups and many more individuals from a variety of backgrounds involved in the sector, Wales has a strong traditional of supporting International Development.

To celebrate this work, on the 1st of November 2016, the sector will come together at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea for the Wales International Development Summit.

Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James said: “The Wales for Africa programme has gone from strength to strength and I am proud of its success.

“I’m grateful to the thousands of people in Wales who have given their time and expertise over the past ten years.

“The international friendships formed have helped save countless lives through healthcare improvements, and enriched the futures of thousands of children by providing an education.

“Their contributions are vital and valued and it is only right we celebrate them.”

The event will be opened by Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James AM and feature Peter Di Campo, award winning photographer and co-creator of the everydayafrica project, and Nasra Juma Mohamed, Head of the Tanzania Ministry for Migration and coach of the Zanzibar Women’s Football team.

There will also be exhibiting stands, exciting workshops and open space discussions on a variety of subjects, from tech in development, reaching women and girls, global education, African diaspora in Wales, Fair Trade and International Health.

The day will also include a discussion with Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner on the importance of Wales’ role as a globally responsible nation.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “The International Development crowd in Wales are a diverse and passionate bunch. We have prepared an exciting line up of speakers and workshops covering a range of topics that reflect this.

“At this year’s Summit we want to celebrate the inspiring partnerships which are an integral part of our work, and to challenge ourselves to achieve even more over the next 10 years.”

The event will form part of the Wales for Africa 10 year anniversary celebrations and will open Hub Cymru Africa’s autumn small grants pot for applications.

If you would like to attend, please register (for free): 

Hub Cymru Africa is funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.

Using football to overcome gender inequality - bringing the Zanzibar experience to Wales

Monday 24 October 2016

(Nassra running a coaching session)

For many of us playing for a football team is a pretty straightforward, however for the Zanzibar women’s team it has been a far bigger challenge.

When they set out, the women players experienced a lot of prejudice and were often on the receiving end of abusive comments and challenging the law, unlike their counterparts here in Wales who have been playing football in the 1960’s.

Zanzibar’s head coach Nassra Juma Mohammed is on a tour to Wales (and other parts of the UK) and will be discussing gender empowerment and the power of change in sport. She will be at public events and will be meeting with women’s football teams to tell them all about the challenges her team faced, and the support they now receive.

As part of the tour Nassra will be meeting up with both the Cardiff City and Swansea City women’s teams, giving both the players and coaches an opportunity to gain an insight into the adversity she and her team have faced by discussing the film as well as the passion she has for the game.

The team from Zanzibar were the subject of Wales-based filmmaker and lecturer Professor Florence Ayisi’s Zanzibar Soccer Queens in 1997 and the follow up to the original called Zanzibar Soccer Dreams.

Nassra said: “The film has been a great way of raising awareness of the challenges we faced in Tanzania and has helped changed many of the negative attitudes. Girls now want to play football and have been inspired by the older women who overcame the initial challenges.

“Following on from the popularity of the film and the efforts of myself and colleagues, earlier this year the authorities in Zanzibar have gone a step further to make sure that football is now integrated into the sports curriculum, making it the official sport for girls in schools across Zanzibar.

“I hope that by visiting the clubs and meeting the players, we can share experiences and can hear of the challenges and sacrifices the players here have faced to succeed.”

The visit has been organised by the Watch Africa film festival in partnership with the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) and Hub Cymru Africa.

The Watch Africa film festival Director, Fadhili Maghiya said: “The film festival always aims to tackle topical issues and bring first hand experiences from the people who are documented in the films and documentaries to Wales.

“Sport has such an important role to play in helping deliver gender equality and we are delighted that Nassra will be joining us, her passion for the game and for helping the women and girls she trains reach their dreams will really bring another dimension to our festival this year.”

As part of her visit, Nassra will also be speaking at women’s empowerment in sport at the Wales International Development Summit in the Liberty Stadium, Swansea on the 1st of November, you can register (for free) here: 

Bringing an African touch to Welsh cinemas

Monday 26 September 2016

(The Siren of Faso Nani - ©Watch Africa)


Watch Africa 2016 is proud to be bringing you some of the best in African cinema with a series of films being screened across Wales, starting on Saturday the 1st of October 2016.

This year’s festival aims to provide viewers with an insight into some of the issues facing people on the continent. The main themes for 2016 are ‘Black Star’, a British Film Industry (BFI) funded theme and ‘Journey and Self Discovery’.

Black Star themed screenings will showcase one of Africa’s blockbuster films The CEO starring the Beninese-born American Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter and activist Angelique Kidjo. The theme aims to celebrate the power, range and versatility of black actors.

Journey and Self-Discovery will explore stories depicting some of the challenges and successes of Africans. ‘Things of the Aimless Wanderer’ takes us back in time to the pre-colonial era when Western travellers/explorers came to Africa and their initial contact with local populations. 'The Siren of Faso Nani’ looks at post-independence challenges, exploring the complex relations between a country and global institutions and their impact on the textile industry in Burkina Faso.

The importance of African modes of storytelling will be explored during this year’s festival. Through the writer and storyteller Bevin Magama, we will get to sit, listen and learn about forms of entertainment; morals and instructions from the storyteller; the involvement of beasts, plants and nature and learn historical lessons.

Films such as Colours of Alphabet, Timbuktu and Mediterranea will look at the journey and challenges the continent is facing in education, gender and extremism as well as mass migration. A documentary of the famous Bi Kidude, a Zanzibarian Taarab singer will draw this year’s festival to a close as we look at the life and drama of the oldest singer in history.

Festival Director, Fadhili Maghiya said: “I am really excited about this year’s festival as we will not only showcase films but also bring various African artists found within the diaspora community in Wales and beyond to add their voices”.

“From watching Idrissa Camara performing to listening to the music of Taarab, the festival will bring a taste of Africa to Wales in many forms. There will be African food served in the venues as well as different forms of African music for the attendees to enjoy."

For more information and to see the full programme visit: 

The festival is supported by: British Film Institute (BFI), Arts Council Wales, Black History Month, Welsh Government, Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP), Cardiff University and Hub Cymru Africa.

Bringing the World to Bangor

23 September 2016

This Friday (30th Sept) and Saturday (1st Oct) Bangor will welcome a Fairtrade Gold Miner, a Zimbabwean singing and traditional dance group, African diaspora community members and the Watch Africa 2016 African Film Festival!

On Friday, Fair Trade Wales will be at Pontio for their north Wales regional event and will be joined by Roger Ponte, a Fairtrade Gold Miner from Peru.

Elen Jones, National Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales said: “There will be lots of activities centred on Fair Trade, including workshops, learning how fair trade works, meeting other fair trade supporters and learn about the future plans for the World’s First Fair Trade Nation.”

On the Friday Night, Black Umfolosi will be performing at Pontio. The Zimbabwean group bring their own unique traditional dance and music to the arts centre.

On Saturday morning (1st of October) come along to Capel Penuel for a Fair Trade market and coffee morning.

Later on the Saturday, again at Pontio, the Sub Sahara Advisory Panel along with Hub Cymru Africa will be welcoming members of the African diaspora community to the Arts Centre to discuss the role of the community in International Development with a range of talks and a grant funding workshop.

Following this event the launch of Wales’ African Film Festival will kick off with the Sirens of Faso Nani, which looks at post-independence challenges, exploring the complex relations between a country and global institutions and their impact on the textile industry in Burkina Faso.

Fadhili Maghiya, the Film Festival Director and Sub Sahara Advisory Panel Coordinator said: “The people of Bangor are in for a real treat with some really interesting activities and cultural experiences all happening in the city. We hope that people will come along to find out all about it."

On Saturday, Hope not Hate will be staging a Peace Ceremony at the Deiniol Centre from 1:30pm - 4:30pm.

Cat Jones discussing the G20 meeting and International Development

11 September 2016

If you missed our Head of Partnership, Cat Jones on BBC Radio Cymru, Bwrw Golwg on Sunday morning talking about the recent G20 meeting and International Development, have another listen here

Supporting vulnerable children and orphans in Uganda

25 July 2016

Children in Uganda taking photos as part of the Cordelia Weedon Project

(Photo taken by Cordelia Weedon - World Heritage Orphans & Vulnerable Children’s Project)

A woman from Llanfyllin, Powys has just returned from north east Uganda where she has been working with a small community to help them recover after years of insurgent violence and HIV related health problems.

Cordelia Weedon has been visiting the area as a volunteer with Mid Wales-based international development charity Dolen Ffermio over the last 7 years. On a previous trip she noticed that the local community had a large number of orphans and vulnerable children and wanted to help.

In 2015 she worked with Ugandan locals to set up the World Heritage Orphans & Vulnerable Children’s Project (WHOVC).

Cordelia said: “The first phase of work identified 14 children, the most vulnerable ones and provided them with monthly practical skills training starting with weaving then progressing on to tailoring, carpentry, shoe mending and jewellery making.

“The also received basic items they need like books, school uniforms and shoes which help them continue their education; as well as mosquito nets to help protect them from Malaria.

“Orphans are often looked after by the carers, so by doing this we take the financial strain off those community members.”

The children were also provided with some animals including goats, chickens and turkeys, along with maize seeds and training in livestock and childcare. Milk, eggs and meat from the animals can help feed the families and they use any surplus to sell to support themselves.

Using her skills as a professional photographer Cordelia has been running workshops for the local children to undertake Photo Diary projects to show everyday life from their perspective and boost their confidence.

Cordelia now intends to set up a link with a school in Wales and plans to use the photos to raise awareness about poverty in this area of Uganda. She also hopes to establish a link between a World Heritage Site in Pontcysyllte, Wales and the Nyero rock paintings World Heritage site in Uganda.

Joseph Opolot, one of the local Committee Members said: "The knowledge I acquired on the Permaculture Training Course opened my thinking and now I have a plan to implement it in my community and Uganda at large."

Plans are already in place to work with the next group of vulnerable children in the community.

Liz Rees Programme Support Officer at Hub Cymru Africa said:

“The skills training provided by this project has empowered a disadvantaged community and given them the tools to work towards attaining a sustainable income.

“Linking the children in Nyero with a school in Wales will promote cultural exchange and provide an engaging way for young people in Wales to learn about the challenges faced by young people elsewhere in the world.”

The project is being supported by the Welsh Government funded Hub Cymru Africa.

Wales’ contribution to Global Health

12 July 2016

HCA Health Conference - Tony Jewell, Vaughan Gething & Cat Jones.jpg

(Tony Jewell - Wales for Africa Health Links Network, Vaughan Gething AM, Cat Jones - Hub Cymru Africa)

This year’s Wales Africa Health Conference took place in Cardiff (Wednesday, 6 July 2016) and brought together people from all over Wales who work in or have an interest in global health.

Many of these committed and dedicated health professionals from across Wales are helping to support public health and healthcare improvements throughout Africa. They work through a variety of Welsh community groups and charities, contributing significant amounts of voluntary time, expertise and fundraising efforts.

In opening the conference the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport, Vaughan Gething said:

“Over the past 10 years, the Welsh Government has supported and encouraged more people to get involved in Wales for Africa health links. This important programme is making a real difference to people’s lives both in Africa and in Wales – improving health professionals’ skills and experience, in turn driving up standards across the board.

“We should be really proud of what the Wales Africa program has done as it builds upon our shared interest to improve healthcare across the world and helps us foster a generous and outward looking Wales.”

Cat Jones Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa added:

“These health links are mutually beneficial partnerships that have a positive impact on the lives of people in Africa and Wales.

“In Africa the Welsh links are helping to improve health education, mother and child health, cancer screening and treatment, eye care and mental health, amongst other things. Welsh health professionals are able to build the capacity of their partners by sharing knowledge and skills, helping to build networks and providing training and equipment.

“In return for those involved, there are benefits of increased confidence, leadership and training skills, understanding of global diseases, and experience of problem solving in very limited resource settings; all things which benefit staff and patients in Wales as well as in Africa.”

These partnerships create a powerful, shared sense of optimism and positivity about what can be achieved in health service delivery – in Wales and Africa, and help to foster a global citizen outlook in the Welsh health community.

This work is very much in line with the duties set out in the Welsh Governments Wellbeing for Future Generations Act which complements the UKs commitment to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The conference included contributions by visiting speakers from England, Scotland and Namibia.

The event was supported by the Welsh Government funded Hub Cymru Africa, the Wales for Africa Health Links Network and the International Health Coordination Centre, Public Health Wales.


Ugandan visitors to Wales - Co-op Exchange

20 June 2016

HCA Joachim and Patrick with Laura at Little Man Coffee Shop.jpg

This Co-operatives fortnight (18 June - 2 July), Wales welcomes two Ugandan Coffee Field Officers from the Gumutindo Cooperative on the slopes of Mount Elgon on the border with Kenya.

Joachim Watuwa and Patrick Kutosi are coming to Wales to learn about Wales’s amazing co-operatives and growing coffee culture, and to share their experiences of working in sustainable coffee production..

Joachim and Patrick will be visiting coops across Wales to learn about Fairtrade, organic agriculture, recycling and more. They will also be finding out what happens to coffee when it reaches Wales by visiting a coffee roaster in Bridgend and having a lesson in Barista and in latte art in a local Cardiff coffee shop.

Joachim said: “We are looking forward to meeting people in Wales and telling them all about Gumutindo, which means ‘excellent quality’ and the coffee our thousands of farmers produce at our cooperative. I’m also really excited about learning how to make latte coffee.

“Fair Trade means that the farmers I work with and the workers at our factory get a fairer price for their product, as a result of the extra premium people pay we can choose where that money is spent and can send children to school, pay for local health centres and protect our local environment.”

As well as being Fairtrade, the coffee produced by Gumutindo is organic and gets its unique taste from the care and attention it is given by the farmers, the rich volcanic soil and temperate climate.

Elen Jones, National Coordinator at Fair Trade Wales said:

“In Wales we take a cup of coffee for granted, how often do we stop to think about where it has come from and the person who has worked hard to grow it for us?

“This year we are celebrating the 8th anniversary of Wales becoming the World’s first Fair Trade Nation. The new legislation being introduced by the Welsh Government under the Well being and Future Generations Act, supports us to continue to lead the way in being a globally responsible nation.”

The visit is supported by Fair Trade Wales, a partner of Hub Cymru Africa, the Wales Co-operative Centre and the Welsh Government. The project co-ordinator is John Harrington, a volunteer from Newtown.


Support in the face of food crisis

12 July 2016

HCA Lesotho Drought Image ©Dolen Cymru.jpg

Picture of a villager in Lesotho ©Dolen Cymru

Groups from Wales are working across southern Africa to help support partner organisations and communities in the face of severe food shortages.

Cardiff based Dolen Cymru (Lesotho), Bridgend based Friends of Monze (Zambia) and Abergavenny based Love Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) are among the Wales based organisation who are working to support partners in the affected areas.

According to UN sources 12.8 million people* in southern Africa have been impacted by the food security issue, with the lowest rainfall in 35 years reported in 8 countries* in the region. The number of people impacted could rise to nearly 36 million people* in late 2016.

Cat Jones Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said:

“Vast areas of southern and eastern Africa have seen very little rainfall which means that the staple crops such as maize haven’t grown this season, leaving many without food to survive. The increase in the cost of food can make it up to 75% more expensive just to eat a basic meal and many people are going without."

Wales has been twinned with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho for thirty years. Sharon Flint, of Dolen Cymru- the Wales Lesotho link, who has recently returned from Lesotho, said:

“The most obvious difference to their landscape is the views of wild flowers grown in place of the maize crops. On one hand it is beautiful sight, but the reality for the local farmer and community is devastating.

“The maize that is visible is poor and unusable. The prices to buy processed maize to cook ‘Pap’, the Basotho local staple food, have tripled and the changes to water supplies have pushed up the cost of everyone’s utility bills.

“An estimated 1 in 3 people (650,000) will be in need of food aid until next year, so we are working with Send a Cow Lesotho to provide vegetable seeds to families urgently now. We are also working to empower local people by creating school programmes and community gardens to grow crops.”

Some families in the region have resorted to eating only one meal a day to conserve food supplies. School children are dropping out of school to help their families search for water, or to seek work to be able to buy food.

Martha Musonza-Holman of Love Zimbabwe, which has been working with Chinamhora Village in Zimbabwe for seven years, commented:

“We visited Chinamhora Village in February this year and found that people are struggling to find food. The drought is still hitting people severely and many people are eating yellow maize - a crop typically reserved for livestock. The current dry weather, parched rivers, and crop failures have severely affected subsistence farmers in rural communities. Villagers are relying on gathering wild fruits to survive as their crops have failed and food prices have risen.

“The community is working together and people are supporting their elderly and disabled neighbours. Our project is supporting the community by installing water tanks and helping people grow food in drought-resistant keyhole gardens. Some of the craftspeople in the village are also able to earn money through our Fair Trade craft project, and this means that they can afford to buy food.”

With droughts in this part of the world becoming more frequent and more severe as a result of increasing global temperatures and the next rains not due until October, the situation is likely to get worse.

Cat added: “In Wales we are renowned for our community spirit and showing support and solidarity. So please support your local groups who are working in these areas, donate to an appeal and take action to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dolen Cymru is appealing for donations to its appeal to provide fast growing vegetable seeds for communities in Lesotho to help families feed themselves over the coming months. The Cardiff based Waterloo Foundation has promised to match all donations received by the appeal up to £10,000. To donate visit: 


From Porthcawl to Moshi, Tanzania

09 May 2016

Picture of Rahema ©Anza.jpg

Although Anza founder Krupa Patel started life in Porthcawl, she was exposed to a world unfamiliar to her own from an early age.

Krupa said: “My mum persuaded my Dad to let her take all four of the kids to a rural community in India for a summer… we lived for the whole summer in this very, very basic mud road village. We didn’t do the typical tourist route and that was my first real encounter with poverty.”

Baffled by the inequality that existed between her and a young girl she befriended there, it was on this trip where the seed was planted which would later lead Krupa to start a charity called Anza in Tanzania.

In Tanzania unemployment among youth stands at over 50%, a worrying figure in itself, but one made even more so when you realise that the population of Tanzania is made up of 61.7% youth.

Krupa explains: “In rural areas of Tanzania many young people face the choice of leaving their families to go in search of opportunities in the city, or staying with little chance of earning an income.”

Anza has set about creating a programme that is working to; ‘Equip and empower young people with the skills, knowledge, mentorship and seed capital to enable them to start their own small scale agricultural projects and businesses’. They have done this with the support of a grant from Hub Cymru Africa which is funded by the Welsh Government.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said:

“Youth unemployment is a major issue in Tanzania, Anza’s project work is fighting this by creating sustainable long term employment opportunities.

“As part of the shared learning Anza are also working with a number of secondary schools in Cardiff to teach them about entrepreneurship, social businesses and economic development so they can develop their own skills as well as an understanding of how it can be used in countries like Tanzania.”

To date, 104 young people (32 in-school students and 72 out of school) have completed the two year training programme which covers team work, leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing.

The results? A total of 39 new businesses have been established, run by a combination of individuals and cooperatives, including two in-school businesses designed to provide an additional income for the school.

It is not just those who are a part of the programme who have benefited. Encouraged by their own success many of the entrepreneurs have started sharing their knowledge and skills with other young people in their community.

One of the young entrepreneurs called Rahema (pictured above), who has created a sewing business said: “Now we have six students who we are training to become sewing experts and gain employment like us. The entrepreneurship training we were taught... is the first training we provide our students before starting actual sewing practice. I am happy to share my knowledge.”


Fighting Climate Change one tree at a time

12 April 2016

HCA Tree nursery workers at Bore.jpg

A project from Wales is helping local communities in Bore, Kenya plant over half a million trees to help in our fight against climate change.

The Community Carbon Link (CCL) in Lampeter have so far grown over 130,000 seedlings and are very much on their way to their target of 500,000.

The project works with resourceful women farmers in Kenya to help them conserve their endangered tropical forest, which is crucial for absorbing carbon dioxide and providing essential shade in times of extreme heat.

Cat Jones Partnership Manager at Hub Cymru Africa recently visited the project and said:

“Although we are experiencing a change in the climate back home it is often those in the developing world that feel the impacts the most, we can see this with the devastating drought across southern Africa at the moment.

“Seeing the project first hand helped me understand how the local community of mid Wales are forging important partnerships which can go some way to addressing the impacts of climate change. If everyone plays their part it is possible to make a difference.”

Ru Hartwell of the Community Carbon Link said: “The local communities in Bore have set up and manage three tree nurseries and once the rains come, they will start distributing the seedlings to 124 partner schools and community groups.”

“As well as slowing climate change, planting the trees offers important employment opportunities to local workers, enabling them to educate their children and support their families.”

The ambitious scheme will also bring benefits to Wales with students from the University of Wales Trinity St David learning about the forest eco-systems, while the project monitoring regime will enable postgraduate researchers to gain experience in remote sensing Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and carbon dioxide calculations - all necessary to quantify the benefits of the tree planting.

In Wales there are over 350 community links with African partners, many of whom are supported by Hub Cymru Africa through our grants programme, training and capacity building.

The CCL is supported by Size of Wales and Hub Cymru Africa, which is funded by the Welsh Government and hosted by the Welsh Centre for International Affairs.


Cardiff engineer helping a community in West Africa

11 April 2016

HCA Looking across at a Bouli in the Gorom Gorom region.jpg

Steve Knapton, a civil engineer from Rhiwbina, Cardiff has recently returned from Burkina Faso in West Africa where he has been working to develop water storage capability and access for people to grow crops to feed their families.

As an ambassador for the Acacia Partnership Trust he went to visit the area and met with a village representative from Deberé-Doumam who he has been working with to find a solution to repair a manmade reservoir, which the villagers call a bouli.

Steve said: “This part of Africa (the Sahel; with the Sahara Desert to the north and the Sudanian Savanna to the south) has been experiencing severe droughts in recent years which have led to famines and significant loss of life caused by hunger and malnutrition, so we have been looking at ways in which we can help minimise the impacts of this by storing water.”

Seydou Zan, a representative of the villagers at Deberé-Doumam said: “The bouli is hugely important for our community, no matter how hard we try, without it we cannot improve our living conditions and grow crops to eat or sell at the local market, which is an important source of income for us.”

The visit also allowed Steve to see first-hand the types of problems faced by villagers in the Gorom Gorom region and develop the partnership they have with the local community and Glenwood Church in Llanedeyrn.

Steve added: “As well as the practical challenges, we were able to meet with local government officials to bring their attention to the problems and to see what they can do to further help the community.”

The project which is being funded by Hub Cymru Africa grant which is supported by the Welsh Government.

Cat Jones Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said:

“Access to water is essential for people in these rural areas, with the increase in Climate Change, those who are often least resourced to deal with it are the worst affected.

“There are a number of areas particularly in the Sahel and southern Africa that have been hit really badly, so it is great to see Welsh charities like the Acacia Trust in Wales using their professional expertise, supporting these communities.”

The project is also working to try and link the communities in Deberé-Doumam and the Gorom Gorom region with those in Llanedeyrn.


Young IT Technician helping schools in Zambia

5 April 2016

HCA Connor at Work in Siavonga.jpg

A young IT Technician from Swansea, Connor Smith has recently returned from a trip to install solar panels and IT equipment at rural schools in Siavonga, southern Zambia.

The project which is being run by local Swansea IT company Giakonda Ltd aims to provide solar power and Raspberry Pi computers to rural schools.

During his month stay out in Zambia, Connor was tasked with checking how the equipment was being used, solving any technical problems and helping the local teachers get the best from the e-learning resources RACHEL (Rural Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) and Khan Academy (non-profit educational learning resources) on their Raspberry Pi’s. He also installed new networking equipment and more Raspberry Pi computers.

Connor said: “To begin with I found it really difficult, it was my first time to visit a country outside of Europe and I needed time to acclimatise to the conditions.

“This resulted in me having to visit the local hospital, but thankfully I got the treatment I needed and then I was raring to go.”

After his hospital visit, he started looking at the equipment to make sure that it was in working order and began training Bridget, a local IT technician, how to install new routers, access points and Raspberry Pi computers.

“I was amazed by the friendliness and dedication of the people in Siavonga, the school children often walk miles to get to school and they have a great attitude and work ethic when they get there.

“I have learnt a lot from this experience, not only about how to improvise and test and use the equipment in a completely different environment, but also about developing my leadership and training skills.”

The project work is supported by a grant from Hub Cymru Africa which is sponsored by the Welsh Government.

Cat Jones, Head of Partnership at Hub Cymru Africa said: “Connor has clearly learnt a huge amount from his experience, the outcomes are exactly what we hope to see from our grants with benefits for both the organisation in Wales in terms of staff development and their partners in Zambia with teachers and school children learning new IT skills.

“It’s also exciting to see a Welsh manufactured product, the Raspberry Pi computer being used at the heart of the project”

At present nine schools have benefitted from the project but Giakonda IT intends to roll it out to a further 26 schools in Siavonga, with Connor looking forward to playing an active part in this.

Connor said: “It was a totally life changing experience, there were lots of challenges and I had to think on my feet, but at the end of the three weeks I was sorry to leave Siavonga, I hope to be back there soon.”