SSA Stories IYAN
Environment

IYAN: Sustainable growth against all odds

The following story is about how Ihandiro Youth Advocates for Nature (IYAN) in partnership with QCT it is empowering communities in Uganda to more sustainable living and working towards SGD 7 – Affordable access to clean energy.

Ihandiro in Western Uganda is home to the magnificent Rwenzori mountains and thriving biodiversity. The area, consisting of a park and community forest is a rich habitat for lush vegetation and diverse wild animals is under threat. For decades now, the demise of the forest habitat, severe erosion on hills and landslides have triggered poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Which has led to youths dropping out of school and reliance on charcoal burning, poaching and illegal timber harvest as alternatives to earning a livelihood. The result, a human –wildlife conflict, as victims encountered in the park are shot and others arrested by park authorities. This has left behind several orphans and widows leading to an increase in the vulnerability of the community population.

One young native of the Rwenzori mountains decided that he wanted to save his community. Daniel Misaki founded the youth community-based organization IYAN in 2014, which trains communities to produce, market and construct modern energy saving stoves that save 50% wood with no carbon, help the community access solar energy technologies and also train them on green enterprises.

A green initiative leading to economic empowerment of the most vulnerable groups. Since 2020, IYAN has received unrestricted grant of 35,000 GBP to implement a rural clean energy access project. IYAN is promoting rural access to affordable solar and eco-stoves as opposed to the previous traditional three stone wood burning stoves used by people which produced high levels of carbon and consumed a lot of wood. The project is mainly implemented through women village saving groups which pay for the products on interest free credit to increase affordability to underserved homes which can`t afford to do upfront payments. Through QCT support, IYAN established an eco-stove production workshop as sustainable model to deliver on clean cooking. This has changed IYAN from an eco-stove dealer to a producer.

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“IYAN received QCTs grant during the most critical moment. This was during COVID-19 a time that left many grass root communities collapsed. Undoubtedly, IYAN would have closed without the QCTs grant as it was the only grant, we were implementing.” – Daniel Misaki

IYAN have now provided clean cooking to 10,500 homes through eco-stoves. Institutional Eco stoves has been installed in 12 schools. They have supported solar lighting in up to 700 homes and supported 42 solar based businesses. These include solar saloons, cinemas and phone charging accessing solar from IYAN`s revolving fund. These clean energy enterprises employ 67 youths who are improving their living standards by giving them economic opportunities to find work.

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The greatest impact has been on rural women who have been most affected by the energy crisis in Uganda. IYAN worked with local youth and women’s groups to make eco stoves accessible and affordable. Over 70% of the stoves are now sold through women groups.

As part of IYAN’s Green the Hill campaign, a total of 180,000 trees have been planted in an attempt to restore lost vegetation. IYAN was able to give the community free seedlings of Indigenous trees that were endangered. Also, an Eco-investment project by the NGO has seen the establishment of 200 fishponds and 300 beehives as income generators.

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Undoubtedly as a unique donor, QCT also provides capacity building to IYAN, enabling Daniel and his team to establish effective operational systems and necessary policies. The guidance received allowed them to develop and operationalize the financial policy, safeguarding policy, monitoring and evaluation plan and strategic plan among others. These have been fundamental to creating change and making informed decisions.

“Before QCTs support, we didnt know anything about organizational policies. This means we were so prone to risks during our operations. Today, there is something to refer to for any challenge encountered during operation.” – Daniel Misaki

Teamwork makes the dream work

The QCT partnership has had made IYAN stronger ensuring long term sustainable growth and impact. Daniel and his team now have a solid five-year plan through funding and capacity building.

“As rural youth with a big dream but with limited capacity to make its impact realistic and sustainable, QCT`s capacity building first put us in a state of mindfulness and high vision of risk management and sustaining impact. These was through sessions on planning, reporting and system building.” – Daniel Misaki

As a result of QCT funding, IYAN’s Eco Stove project is steadily growing and hopes to become self-sustainable in the near future. As a young leader Daniel has learnt a lot through QCT’s guidance. From childhood he defied the odds within his community and demonstrated that his dreams are not mere wishes but realistic and achievable.

IYAN has improved his confidence and ability to manage high impact projects whilst creating sustainable relationships with stakeholders. Peer support and training has also been a lifeline for young leaders like Daniel.

“QCT linkage to the youth hub has provided me an opportunity to hear from other youth on how they overcome barriers they face. This learning opportunity has been an eye opener on how to handle various dynamics.” – Daniel Misaki

Daniel’s advice to other young entrepreneurs is to remain persistent.

“It takes a heart of dreamer to start but a warrior`s heart to win your dream. Therefore, love it, and be passionate and courageous enough to defy the growth dynamics.” – Daniel Misaki

To find out more about how you can help support projects like this click here.

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