communities

The 6th United Nation Sustainable Development Goal is about providing clean and safe access to the most precious liquid on earth for all.

Water and Sanitation for all. Photo: UNDP Philippines

Two years ago, a major environmental disaster struck Brazil – the liquid waste reservoir of the mining company Samarco burst, wiping out a village, killing 11 people and poisoning the waters of the Rio Doce, a water source that supplies two Brazilian states. The riverside population and fishermen have been facing difficult times since. The water is still unsafe to drink, and the iron contamination has exterminated the local fauna. Scientists predict it would take 100 years for the river to fully recover from the catastrophe. And what of the fundamental right to a safe source of water? The question remains unanswered and it’s an everyday struggle for all communities to exercise their right to satisfy this basic need.

The 6th UN Sustainable Development Goal aims to provide access to safe water and sanitation and sound management of freshwater ecosystems for all by 2030. Both are essential to human health, as well as to environmental sustainability and economic prosperity.

The UNDP reports that over 90 per cent of the world’s population uses improved drinking water sources and over two-thirds use improved sanitation facilities. Yet, most rural areas in underdeveloped countries have to cope with the lack of both, and the resulting bad health consequences. «Achieving universal access to basic sanitation and ending the unsafe practice of open defecation will require substantial acceleration of progress», says the report published in 2017.

A fourth of global population lives in countries with water stress, meaning they are vulnerable to future water scarcity by not having enough renewable sources. Countries in Northern Africa and Western Asia already face severe water stress. This is a matter of public policy; however, the participation of other actors, including organizations and local communities, is key to effective water and sanitation management.

WESDE trains health agents to act within communities

Within our Horyou community, the organization WESDE – Water, Energy and Sanitation for Development is very active in providing integrated water resources management, sanitation and health education in Cameroon. WESDE acts in both rural and urban areas, supporting the most vulnerable populations with information and resources for development.

Another member of the Horyou platform, EAA Burundi, created in 1988, is active in more than 35 African countries, as well as in Israel. It helps supply drinking water, using innovative solutions like dry latrines and simplified sewer networks, while supporting the communities through agricultural, financial and development projects.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps promote water and sanitation in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to engage in any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

Step 1 – End Poverty in All its Forms, Everywhere Horyou’s new series is about the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Every week, Horyou blog will publish an article about one of them, highlighting projects and actions that have been supporting its implementation.

Women in East Timor counts with NGO help. Females are one of the groups most affected by poverty. Source UNDP.
Women in East Timor counts with NGO help. Females are one of the groups most affected by poverty. Source UNDP.

Valeria is a Peruvian woman who struggles to support her family. A single mom with 2 small children and a sick parent who lives with her, she works as a waitress in a restaurant during the day and in a bar at night. She only has 4 hours sleep every night, yet her income is only enough to pay the rent of her room and some basic expenses. «Luckily, I can bring home some food from the restaurant and I can feed my daughters. But I can’t buy them clothes or books», she says.

Like Valeria, about 10% of the world’s workers and their families live with less than $1,90 per person per day. According to the UN, the rate has declined steadily in the past 17 years, though an estimated 767 million people still live below the poverty line. About one third is unprotected by their national and regional social systems.

Interactions and Solidarity project in Kenya
Interactions and Solidarity project in Kenya

When the UN Sustainable Development Goals were launched in January 2016, following the 15-year Millenium Development Goals, poverty was still one of the worst concerns in the developing and poor regions. For decades, institutions, NGOs and social entrepreneurs have developed support programs to take the poorer ones out of their condition and offer them perspective and hope.

Within the Horyou community and on its platform, NGOs like InterActions-Solidarity focus on poverty reduction and environment projects in Kenya. Based on the demands of each community, they provide support in the implementation of solidarity and socio-economic, eco-tourism and food safety programs. «We’ve seen an increase of productivity and profitability of farming and grazing activities respecting the environment, and with the sustainable management of natural resources», says the NGO spokesperson.

SER Sustentável works with homeless people from Brazil
SER Sustentável works with homeless people from Brazil

Other organizations like SER Sustentável, based in Brazil, help homeless people with addiction to alcohol or crack cocaine to step up and reintegrate life with dignity. The organizations also acts in poor communities providing them with sustainable housing and training support. «We want to reintegrate them in the society through work and income, offering workshops that would help them to find jobs», says Silvana Grandi, SER Sustentável president.

If you wish to support this SDG, you can do so through Horyou. Go to Horyou platform and choose an NGO or project that helps fight poverty in your region or anywhere in the world. Your support can be made easier and more effective with Spotlight, our digital currency for impact. Check it out and start using it to impact the Cause of poverty or any cause you feel concerned about. Be the change, be Horyou!

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Projects on the Horyou platform are a key component in the promotion of social good. By starting an individual or group Project on Horyou, you can gain exposure, recognition, support and much more.

We recently interviewed Hector Alvarez from beyondBeanie, the winner of the SIGEF 2014 Call for Projects People’s Choice Award. Horyou believes in bringing visibility to projects that positively affect their communities. This is the case with beyondBeanie.

*Let’s first talk about this idea. How did it happen?

It all started during a trip to Bolivia in summer of 2013 in which I went to visit Paty, a friend whom I had gotten to know some years earlier in California. While traveling, my friend and I were talking about the hardships faced by the women artisans of Bolivia who struggle to make a living through selling their creations to tourists and passersby in the streets of La Paz and Uyuni. I really liked their knitted creations, especially the beanies! I went ahead and got myself a few of my favorite ones back to Europe. Once winter started to set in Switzerland, I showed around my Bolivian beanies to my friends to get their feedback. I was very pleased to see that they liked them too, and even more once I showed them the pictures of my trip as well as pictures of the artisans and local people whom I had met. What happened next was that I told my Bolivian friend to send me some products that I would try to sell through my friends. Paty went back to La Paz from her hometown Cochabamba (a six-hour drive), organized a few artisans and made some sample products for me. It was important for us to let my friends know who made their products. Therefore, every product includes the name of the artisan who made it, whom my friends could meet through photos. While talking to Paty, we also realized that there was a great need to help street and orphan children in Bolivia, and that is how the idea to have every product attached to a help of children came to be. Our project finally came life in March 2014 and I said to myself: “I’m ready for this!”

How is bB making a difference?

We are making a difference by creating sustainable local jobs for women artisans so that they no longer have to go out on the streets and leave their children unattended, as well as continuing to help children in need with every item sold (one beanie = five meals, one bag = one set of school supplies, one poncho = one school uniform).

Something we find very interesting is your approach to bB: “BeyondBeanie is a lifestyle brand.” Can you give us your insight on this?

What we mean by lifestyle is that we do not just want to be a brand which sells products but which also educates people about how their everyday life choices can make a positive impact to the world. We believe that by combining fashion with solidarity, we can create a brand that can create sustainable change – a brand which conscious-minded consumers not just appreciate but also “live,” as opposed to just “wear.”

There are many people involved in this process: artisans, local organizations and communities, the bB team, among others. How does the entire process work?

Yes, it is indeed a very large and complex process in which there are lots of parts and people involved.

First of all, it all starts with the idea that even though we do charitable work, it is our goal to position ourselves as a fashion brand so that we can make our social enterprise sustainable over the long run (the idea is to have people want to shop our products first and foremost because they are catchy and cool while having the added value of giving back, instead of simply buying because they feel sorry about street children and shop simply to support, but just wear our products once or maybe twice in their whole lives).

In order to come up with great looking and trendy products, we spend a whole lot of time studying and following fashion trends, which is mostly done by Paty and her assistant, Renee. In addition, we do also work in close collaboration with top fashion bloggers and bloggers such as Depeches Mode in France, or Braided Bliss, Victoria Moronta and Lisa Marie Prang in the USA, who all evaluate and try our products and submit feedback to us.

Once the products’ prototypes are approved and OK’d by our sample population, Paty will indicate to the artisans their specifications, such as required texture and wool, lengths and diameters, etc. This process is not always easy, as the product making can have some variations from person to person (our items are not industrially made but rather individually crafted, knitted, weaved and sewn by our talented artisans.

Even though most of our artisans whom we support already have good knowledge and experience in knitting and weaving, they still require training to understand how to master the making and specifications of our products. Therefore, we have learned that it is important to prepare everything several months in advance.

beyond-beanie-hector

Fortunately, the part of forming collaboration with children centers to support has been relatively easy since Paty already had some connections with children’s centers that needed help and were eager to accept our support. The main problem was mainly in the beginning to try to understand what are the centers’ greatest needs, but once we understood them, the rest has been relatively easy.

Then the process that relates to the team, interns and volunteers helping in the project, we have a global team, which is divided, in two continents (Bolivia in Latin America and Switzerland, Germany and the UK in Europe, and most recently in the USA). The first few months when we got established were definitely difficult. In short, we all had to put lots of effort to deal with time differences, learn each other’s tasks, etc. Anyhow, everyone who has gotten on board has always felt a strong commitment and interest in the success of the project. Therefore, this has been a very powerful ingredient that has kept us together, even when things have gotten rough along the way.

I hope this gives a good overview about how everything works and flows. 🙂

What is your vision for bB? What do you think it can become?

It’s my dream to become a brand of choice for people who care about social good, as well as to hopefully serve as an example to other projects.
In the future, we would like to continue to expand our presence into other countries and online presence, as well as to continue to form collaborations with other awesome organizations that promote and “live” social good, such as Horyou.

Finally: What is your Dream? What is you Inspiration? What does the word “Action” mean for bB?

My dream for bB is to continue to develop our social brand, to keep establishing partnerships with similar-minded organizations, to keep promoting social good, all while educating consumers and impacting lives. Our inspiration here at bB is the happy faces and see how lives get changed to the about 80 children in two centers and 17 artisans that we support. The word “action” means to go out of one’s box and dare to do things in a different way to create positive change not just for oneself but to those around us too.

Thank you to Hector and all of the people from the beyondBeanie team for taking the time to share their vision with Horyou and for the video bB dedicated to us! We wish your 2015 to be full of many more accomplishments in the promotion of arts and education by strengthening the communities you directly support.

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