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Switching the lights on: how a GDL member’s project improved road security in a Ugandan village
by Benon Kayemba

The pandemic has affected the world broadly and in different ways – GDL members have had to cancel projects, put them on hold or reorganise them for the time being. In order to ensure that the work of GDL members can continue, especially in civil society organisations that support vulnerable groups or other groups in need, the GDL has promoted projects through the Solidarity Fund. What has become of it, who has taken part in it and how has it helped?

This is the second article of our Solidarity Fund blog series where we will publish reports at irregular intervals on the blog. You can also take look at the first entry where Camila Comide shares her experiences at the Gender Alliance and illustrates why gender is way more than just women’s rights.

Inspired by the Solidarity Driven Call, GDL Member Benon Kayemba launched a solar light project to improve security and provide lighting for children affected by the COVID lockdown in his home village of Buzzi in Uganda. 

Benon’s report:

When I first saw the Solidarity Driven Call, I got the idea to set up roadside lamps alongside the access road to my residence in the small village of Buzzi in Wakiso District, Uganda. And so, the solar light project was born. Its primary purpose was to provide reliable lighting at night in a densely-populated neighbourhood to improve security for the children in the community affected by the pandemic restrictions.

However, the initial planning suffered a few setbacks at first. Firstly, I wanted to install ten lights, but we installed four lights instead since other costs such as labour reduced the planned number of lights. Secondly, I was needed to construct a community access road, using marram and bitumen which on the one hand drained my resources but in the end led to improved hygiene in the area

The solar light project was part of the larger project I undertook, which included access to tarmac roads, perimeter walls and solar lights to improve visibility at night, beauty, cleanliness, and neighbourhood security. Finally, I was able to achieve all these goals and to significantly improve livelihood for the community – even though we only covered a small distance. 

Because of the lights, the road users who used to urinate and soil the place at night are no longer doing the same, creating a clean environment. One significant improvement to the situation beforehand is that when national power is interrupted, which happens frequently, this place remains illuminated at night. The children from within the community can now even use it as a playground at night.

Throughout the project, I experienced excellent teamwork because it was funded and implemented even in my absence. I left Uganda in October 2020, and by the time I returned in April 2021, the project was complete with good feedback from residents.

Without the GDL Solidarity Fund, direct contributions from my fellow members and the team spirit I experienced, I would not have been able to implement this project. It helped me to physically connect with my fellow member Firmin Kami Adjahossou, who graciously visited my home in Buzzi, Uganda. This was a very great honour for me. I also connected with my fellow GDL Members Blair Glencorse and Edna Martinez as well as the GDL Secretariat. All these are valuable contacts to me.

The main challenge, however, relates to the poor and costly internet in some of our countries. The internet is too slow and too costly. This issue of cost, poor connectivity and lack of transparency in how the telecom providers charge their users is a major challenge to networking in Africa today

Since our first phase, we have received appeals for support from the rest of the neighbourhood. The key challenges to the project are twofold: the need to first improve the community access street before installing the roadside solar lumps and then protect the solar lumps from vandalism.

The Solidarity Driven Call came at the right time. It opened my eyes to supporting my community. I never even planned to do this project in the first place, but when I saw the Call in July 2020, I got the idea to improve the street project. I’m now looking forward to more support for phase two of the project, which is improving the community access street from the main Entebbe Road to Buzzi trading centre over a distance of one kilometre. This street is impassable during rainy seasons. It would require levelling, marram soil, culverts, stones, bitumen and solar street lights. Every day, it is used by over 500 pedestrians and children going to school.

Providing services that matter in people’s lives is the greatest source of motivation for a human beingI will continue to do just that.

Published on July 7, 2021.

About the author

Benon Kayemba is a Ugandan diplomat with expertise in the fields of foreign and economic affairs, public administration, integration and partnerships as well as regional matters. 

Further Articles

"We should never give up in the world of social media"
How do we interact on social media, how are my tweets read, and what can I offer my audience? Members share their impressions from the GDL Social Media Workshop.
Women's leadership is absolutely critical
In a podcast Elsa Marie D´Silva speaks about how she works on advancing gender equality and the prevention of sexual and gender based violence.
Gender is way more than just women’s rights
Camila Gomide writes about how working with the Gender Alliance helped her do more to achieve gender equity.
Strategic Foresight: In the Face of Uncertainty
GDL member Gaurav Sharma shares his take-aways from a two-part Strategic Foresight journey.
Today’s (German) Foreign Policy - Why It Is About All Of Us
Read Lena Krause's synopsis about the book “Foreign Policy being at Loss - And Why It Needs Society’s Support” by Volker Stanzel.
OnPurpose with Blair Glencorse
Blair Glencorse dreams of a world in which resources are used wisely, decisions benefit everyone fairly, and people lead secure lives. Through his organization Accountability Lab he develops and implements positive ideas for integrity in safe communities. On this podcast Blair talks about personal accountability as a starting point.
benon-kayemba3

Benon Kayemba
Benon Kayemba was born on 9 October 1977 in Uganda, raised by a single rural based mother up to the age of 14 years. From thereon, he took charge of raising his own school fees through working during holidays from senior 1 up to senior 4. He obtained a scholarship from the Conerstone Development organisation (American NGO) for poor bright students and pursued Advanced level education where he excelled nationwide and was admitted to Makerere University - then the only public university in Uganda as a government sponsorship student.

Benon Kayemba has a Bachelor’s Degree (Tourism & Geography), a post graduate diploma in Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He joined the Ugandan Foreign Service in 2002 and has risen through the ranks to Second Secretary (2006), First Secretary (2011) and Counsellor (2015). He has served in the Ugandan mission in Addis Ababa (2006-2010), with responsibility for Integration & Partnerships, in Kinshasha (2012-2016), as deputy head in charge of economic affairs, and is currently in Algiers (2018 -2022) as deputy head on the newly created mission. At home, Benon Kayemba worked as Desk Officer for Europe (2002-2013), Desk Office for the African Union (2004-2006), Special Assistant to the CEO of Foreign Affairs (2011-2012) and Deputy Head of the newly created Department of Regional Peace and Security which deals with regional and continental issues in Africa.

benon-kayemba3

Benon Kayemba
Benon Kayemba was born on 9 October 1977 in Uganda, raised by a single rural based mother up to the age of 14 years. From thereon, he took charge of raising his own school fees through working during holidays from senior 1 up to senior 4. He obtained a scholarship from the Conerstone Development organisation (American NGO) for poor bright students and pursued Advanced level education where he excelled nationwide and was admitted to Makerere University - then the only public university in Uganda as a government sponsorship student.

Benon Kayemba has a Bachelor’s Degree (Tourism & Geography), a post graduate diploma in Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He joined the Ugandan Foreign Service in 2002 and has risen through the ranks to Second Secretary (2006), First Secretary (2011) and Counsellor (2015). He has served in the Ugandan mission in Addis Ababa (2006-2010), with responsibility for Integration & Partnerships, in Kinshasha (2012-2016), as deputy head in charge of economic affairs, and is currently in Algiers (2018 -2022) as deputy head on the newly created mission. At home, Benon Kayemba worked as Desk Officer for Europe (2002-2013), Desk Office for the African Union (2004-2006), Special Assistant to the CEO of Foreign Affairs (2011-2012) and Deputy Head of the newly created Department of Regional Peace and Security which deals with regional and continental issues in Africa.

Firmin Kami Adjahossou

With over 15 years’ experience in programme management and advocacy on governance, peace and reconciliation processes, Firmin Adjahossou has been dedicated to the advancement of social justice through the various non-profit international and research organisations in Africa where he has worked. He is currently working as a Civil Affairs Officer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), where he is supporting the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) through peace campaigns, mediation and conflict-resolution mechanisms. Mr Adjahossou’s areas of expertise include development effectiveness, migration and human trafficking, good governance and democratic transition, natural resources, climate change and sustainable development policies.

Until 2019, Mr Adjahossou served as Director of Operations of SOPODIVA Training Centre, a regional language centre with offices in Cotonou, Accra and Bamako, which provides intensive English courses for students and professionals from French-speaking countries throughout Africa.

Mr Adjahossou holds two Master’s degrees in Biochemistry and Environmental Management from the University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin; he graduated from the GIZ Global Leadership Academy in 2015 and is a Head Trainer in Junior Chamber International (JCI). Mr Adjahossou was the Campaign and Advocacy Officer at the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) from 2007 to 2016, where he supported the leadership of SECAM at the regional and international levels on peacebuilding and mediation, development policies, public engagement and political dialogue for the promotion of a just and inclusive society.
Before that, he worked with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA-Benin) as a Phytopathology Consultant and as a volunteer with the Institut des Artisans de Justice et de Paix (IAJP-Benin) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Over the course of his professional career, Mr Adjahossou has been able to create a network that has allowed him to engage in person with more than 36 countries in Africa and beyond and to liaise with the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations. His ability to deal with people ranging from Heads of State, parliamentarians, civil society leaders and religious leaders to members of the public from various parts of Africa has been thoroughly tested on many occasions, including the African Faith Initiative Programme on Post-2015 Development Agendas that he co-facilitated from 2014 to 2015.

As an active member of the Global Diplomacy Lab (GDL) since 2016, Mr Adjahossou was the host of the GDL Accra Incubator Lab held for the first time in Africa and Ghana from 16 to 19 June 2019.

Blair Glencorse

Blair Glencorse is Founder and Executive Director of the Accountability Lab, an incubator for creative, youth-driven ideas for accountability and transparency around the world.

Blair is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Anti-Corruption and Transparency.

Previously, Blair was a Social Impact Fellow at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, an advisor to the now President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, and worked for the World Bank on issues of governance and development.

He is an Echoing Green Fellow and winner of the BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Award, the World Technology Award and the D-Prize.

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Find out more about Blair while listening to this podcast in which he shares his vision about sustainable use of resources.

Edna Elizabeth Martinez Quintanilla

Edna Martinez is an enthusiastic consultant in sustainable development and public policy.

For over a decade, Edna has worked in designing, developing and implementing public policies focused on sustainability. She has adapted international agendas to the Mexican context, such as sustainable production and consumption, waste management, eco-labelling and, most recently, the 2030 Agenda most commonly known as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Edna worked in the Mexican Ministry of Environmental and Natural Resources for over five years, where her proudest achievements include the development of a National Strategy and a Special Program in Sustainable Production and Consumption. She has collaborated with UNDP and the Office of the Presidency in the design of the Implementation Strategy of the SDGs for Mexico and for FAO in the Foresight of the Agricultural Sector. Edna has also co-written a public policy recommendation for the T20 when chaired by Germany. She also finds great satisfaction in sharing knowledge digitally, in open forums and teaching in universities.

Edna is currently part of a project that is creating an offsite space for co-creation, team building and workshop spaces for international and local organizations. This space, known as Mineralito, is in a tranquil rural area, surrounded by beautiful green landscapes and natural reserves. Knowledge sharing and designing and creating sustainable lifestyles is what inspired Mineralito. This project has turned Edna into an avid researcher of bio-construction in the creation of this magical place, where everything is designed and built with sustainability in mind and shared to be replicated.

Edna was raised in the North of Mexico, growing up both in a rural town and in Monterrey, the second largest city of Mexico. Edna currently lives in Mexico City, but she prefers the loud grandiosity and the noble silence of the natural environment.

benon-kayemba3

Benon Kayemba
Benon Kayemba was born on 9 October 1977 in Uganda, raised by a single rural based mother up to the age of 14 years. From thereon, he took charge of raising his own school fees through working during holidays from senior 1 up to senior 4. He obtained a scholarship from the Conerstone Development organisation (American NGO) for poor bright students and pursued Advanced level education where he excelled nationwide and was admitted to Makerere University - then the only public university in Uganda as a government sponsorship student.

Benon Kayemba has a Bachelor’s Degree (Tourism & Geography), a post graduate diploma in Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He joined the Ugandan Foreign Service in 2002 and has risen through the ranks to Second Secretary (2006), First Secretary (2011) and Counsellor (2015). He has served in the Ugandan mission in Addis Ababa (2006-2010), with responsibility for Integration & Partnerships, in Kinshasha (2012-2016), as deputy head in charge of economic affairs, and is currently in Algiers (2018 -2022) as deputy head on the newly created mission. At home, Benon Kayemba worked as Desk Officer for Europe (2002-2013), Desk Office for the African Union (2004-2006), Special Assistant to the CEO of Foreign Affairs (2011-2012) and Deputy Head of the newly created Department of Regional Peace and Security which deals with regional and continental issues in Africa.

benon-kayemba3

Benon Kayemba
Benon Kayemba was born on 9 October 1977 in Uganda, raised by a single rural based mother up to the age of 14 years. From thereon, he took charge of raising his own school fees through working during holidays from senior 1 up to senior 4. He obtained a scholarship from the Conerstone Development organisation (American NGO) for poor bright students and pursued Advanced level education where he excelled nationwide and was admitted to Makerere University - then the only public university in Uganda as a government sponsorship student.

Benon Kayemba has a Bachelor’s Degree (Tourism & Geography), a post graduate diploma in Diplomacy and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He joined the Ugandan Foreign Service in 2002 and has risen through the ranks to Second Secretary (2006), First Secretary (2011) and Counsellor (2015). He has served in the Ugandan mission in Addis Ababa (2006-2010), with responsibility for Integration & Partnerships, in Kinshasha (2012-2016), as deputy head in charge of economic affairs, and is currently in Algiers (2018 -2022) as deputy head on the newly created mission. At home, Benon Kayemba worked as Desk Officer for Europe (2002-2013), Desk Office for the African Union (2004-2006), Special Assistant to the CEO of Foreign Affairs (2011-2012) and Deputy Head of the newly created Department of Regional Peace and Security which deals with regional and continental issues in Africa.

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