How do we create innovative and sustainable solutions to climate-related challenges affecting communities and cities in Zambia and across Africa? This is what, climate advocates, entrepreneurs, economists, NGOs, digital innovators and environmental experts set out to work on during the Climathon at Bongo Hive Lusaka.
Organized in collaboration between WWF, the City of Lusaka, Impact Hub Kigali, ICLEI and Bongo Hive, the Climathon aimed to use creativity, teamwork and cross-sector collaboration to come up with tangible projects and business ideas that can tackle climate-based challenges. With a special focus on addressing challenges around food, water, energy and transport, participants came together on 29-30 June 2017 to engage in a creative process to come up with innovative, sustainable and implementable solutions to climate-related challenges affecting urban life in Lusaka – and Africa at large.
The event started with a field trip to the Lusaka city and Soweto markets. Participants had the opportunity to understand the challenges the city council faces in terms of food, water, energy and transportation. Afterwards, the Climathon sessions took off at BongoHive, first reviewing sustainability challenges of the nexus food, water, energy and city mobility. In the second step, participants came up with ideas, pitched their solutions and started to develop concrete business models.
“I am so happy young entrepreneurs and innovators came through. The event was so participatory, the issue of co-creation was in it, we supported each idea, and everybody was very excited. Now we are going to have different people from different backgrounds working together. It was awesome”, said Bwendo Kabanda from WWF Zambia.
Chibambo Lydia from NECOS participated in the event as part of the ‘No more waste’ group and commented the following: “Looking at the whole event, I think for me, it is a very exciting and very educating one because it gives you the practicality of some of the innovations or ideas. One of the highlights is when you go to have the practical feel of the challenges when you do the tour of the city and then identify the challenges that are there in the city…”
After two busy and collaborative days, 6 groups of participants pitched their final projects to overcome some of Lusaka’s challenges in green, sustainable ways. The projects ranged from recycling, storm water management, transportation improvement to projects that would ensure high food standards. The projects all looked at specific ways of introducing green and innovative solutions to communities and cities.
His Worship the Lord Mayor of Lusaka Mr. Wilson Kalumba observed the presentations with great enthusiasm. “We need to support young entrepreneurs, the future of the nation belongs to them. Young people have an obligation to find and apply solutions. Don’t waste your brains…You will end up employing yourselves and employing others”, he said in his address to the crowd.
The winning project was selected by His Worship the Lord Mayor of Lusaka Mr. Wilson Kalumba. The group was ‘No more waste‘ working on eliminating waste in Lusaka by collecting it and turning it into biogas energy to use in biogas briquettes and thereby cutting down deforestation and helping solve the shortage of energy. This project will also improve food security by using fertilizers made from waste. The winner was announced to a cheering crowd and awarded with $250, business and financial coaching as well as working space at BongoHive to continue developing their project and turn it into a tangible solution to make Lusaka an even greener city.
The first Climate Hackathon, aka #Climathon, in this format was organized in October 2016 by Impact Hub Kigali with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and ICLEI (local government sustainability initiative) in Rwanda. An envoy from the City of Lusaka had visited Kigali to learn about urban sustainability. His worship, the Lord Mayor of Lusaka, attended the awarding ceremony and joined the team from WWF and Impact Hub Kigali to select the winning team.