My #NGOs4Africa Campaign – Week Four Reflections

This blog covers the period from 30 July – 5 August 2018.

Today marks the three-week countdown to the start of the 2018 Fire and Ice Ultra in Iceland. It is also the start of the final three weeks of my seven-week #NGOs4Africa Campaign.

The primary focus of my campaign over the past week was the work of various African NGOs (organisations with a broad African or regional mandate), as well as the issues impacting their work on the African continent.

I profiled eight African NGOs – Connected Development (CODE), Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC), ONE Campaign, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Akina Mama wa Afrika, Greenpeace Africa, Penplusbytes and FEMNET (The African Women’s Development and Communication Network) – all unique in their own right, and focussing on a diverse range of issues, including corruption, good governance, poverty, environmental activism, feminism, women’s empowerment, access to information, and civil society strengthening.

I have interacted with all these organisations, both directly and indirectly, as part of my work with NGOs in Africa over the past 25 years, and serve on the Africa Advisory Board of the ONE Campaign. In addition, I dedicated my desert runs in 2013 (Ultra Africa Race in Burkina Faso) and 2014 (Last Desert Race in Antarctica) to the ONE Campaign and Greenpeace Africa, respectively.

As in many other parts of the world, the work of African NGOs and civil society more broadly is increasingly impacted by the clampdown on civic space – laws, policies, physical attacks, threats and vilification of those who stand up for the rights of citizens. Ten African countries are rated closed by the CIVICUS Monitor, an online tool that tracks civic space dynamics across the world, meaning there is complete closure in law and practice of civil society, while overall, restrictions on civic space in Africa are growing.

To provide insight and context to these and other developments impacting the work of African NGOs, I published three articles, by David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for CIVICUS; Nana Afadzinu, Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI); and Sungu Oyoo, an African writer, organiser and campaigner, which focused on “The State of Civil Society in Africa”, “Civil Society in West Africa: Challenges and Opportunities”, and “Fifty-five years later – Africa is woke”, respectively.

I also introduced the third Sport 4 Good profile, which focussed on Andrew Patterson. With his 365 Ubuntu Climbs initiative, Andrew has pledged to summit Table Mountain every day in 2018 to raise R1 million for three organisations. Since New Year’s Day, he has already climbed Table Mountain 215 times in 215 days (by 3 August), the equivalent of summiting Mt Everest 43 times, and raised more than R220 000 in the process.

The past weekend I did my last tough training sessions for the Fire and Ice Ultra, with two 40km runs. I feel fit and ready for the race, and must just stay clear of injuries and illness over the next three weeks.

Finally, a blast from the past. The images below were taken in Antarctica during the 2014 Last Desert Race. Antarctica is a truly unique setting for a desert race, and this was definitely my most memorable race to date. Running in the snow and ice for five days, amongst millions of penguins in some spots, and admiring the beauty of the place, made this race extra special. Climate change is already impacting Antarctica, and who knows what it will look like in another 50-100 years from now. I used my participation in the Last Desert Race to support the work of Greenpeace Africa, raising awareness about climate change, as well as money for a solar street light project in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.

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