| By Elizabeth Bettis
One of the greatest and most impactful ways in which IDEAS For Us (IDEAS) is moving towards environmental sustainability is through the work of our international branches. IDEAS is not just a movement for Orlando – it’s a global calling with a global impact in locations all over Africa and more. Today, the spotlight focuses on the amazing IDEAS branch in Guinea, headed by inspired leader Francois Phopho Kamano. Back in June, IDEAS Chief Operations Officer Lee Perry interviewed Kamano to learn about the work happening right now in Guinea, all the problems that need solving, and future goals of the IDEAS Guinea branch.
Saving Kamano’s Forested Paradise
Branch leader Kamano first became inspired to environmental action through experiences in his home of Gueckedou, a forested region he describes as a “paradise.” Things changed with the war in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and war refugees established themselves in Kamano’s hometown. Needing some way to support themselves and stay alive, the refugees got involved in the charcoal production business – cutting down trees and destroying the paradise that Kamano loved. Kamano realized that his community needed to take action. He was chosen as a community leader to look for answers, traveled to the states, and learned from IDEAS For Us about how to involve communities in environmental solutions. Kamano gets his inspiration from his love of nature, and his goal is to gather communities for environmental preservation so that natural paradises like his hometown can come back to life.
Environmental Challenges in Guinea
As evidenced by the refugees whose need for work deforested Kamano’s hometown, one big issue in Guinea is finding a livelihood without destroying the environment. Guinea has great potential for mining operations, so its main causes of deforestation are mining and agriculture. The government of Guinea tries to make up for some of this by their annual national reforestation campaign to plant trees, but these endeavors have limited success because they lack adequate follow up. One possible solution to the charcoal deforestation problem is planting fast-growing trees to fuel the charcoal industry instead of deforesting older forests. Efforts could also focus on finding fuel solutions without charcoal or introducing or improving other forms of sustainable energy such as solar or wind.
Other challenges relate more globally: Guinea has evenly divided seasons with six months of rain and six months of dry. This balance is threatened significantly by the impact of climate change, and what Guinea needs now is a total change in mindset. Communities need to reestablish their relationship with nature, respect the resources they have, and seek for new ways to provide for inhabitants without devastating the environment in which they all live. Clean energy is a major point of focus, especially since the Guinea government struggles with the problem of providing light to cities. Investment in clean energy would also provide the much-needed jobs, offering a livelihood to people who might otherwise be employed in environmentally destructive industries such as mining.
The IDEAS For Us Guinea homepage lists some other challenges the Guinea branch currently faces:
One of the main paths to finding solutions is simple: education does it all. IDEAS For Us Guinea seeks to involve entire communities through the educating work of the IDEAS Hive, teach young people, and discover new ways to innovate and overcome through collaborative work. The IDEAS Hive, which provides free educational workshops, can inspire communities to rethink their impact on the environment and change their actions.
Current & Future Projects
How is IDEAS For Us Guinea combating all these environmental challenges? A few of their current projected activities include:
Here’s what you can do to forward all the amazing work of IDEAS in Guinea:
Watch our interview of IDEAS For Us Guinea leader Francois Kamano here: