Enveilling the Youth Fund for Community Innovation (YFCI) Project in Burkina.

First wind turbine built by young William Kamkwamba, Source: Wikipedia

1. How did the idea of ​​a Youth Fund for Community Innovation in Burkina sprang up?

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: History and Inspiration factor for Community Development in Burkina Faso.

Whoever watched the movie “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind”, released in 2019 by British director Chiwetel Ejiofor, was undeniably stirred and lifted up by the story that was told. Indeed, it is the story of William Kamkwamba, a 13 years old boy who, facing the abhorrent drought that severely struck Malawi in 2002, built a wind turbine, using a bicycle his father once owned, and materials recovered from a landfill, to operate a pump used to irrigate sunburned land.

Left (recent version of the wind turbine built by William Kamkwamba), right (first wind turbine built by William Kamkwamba). Source: Wikipedia

This true story is all the more remarkable as it portrays human unique capability to invent things and to solve its daily life hurdle. The film will inspire all those who ever doubted and challenged individuals’ ability to operate a groundbreaking change in their community and thereby, drastically improve the lives of those around them. For more information see William Kamkwamba.

In August 2019, I had the privilege to meet William Kamkwamba in Washington D.C at a conference that he hosted as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship leadership program. Now 32, William Kamkwamba is an inventor, engineer and author who has become renowned worldwide, thanks to his inspirational story. He is seen as a model of effective leadership, scientific ingenuity among African youth and beyond, and a speaker in major meetings around the world.

William Kamkwamba during his speech at the Washington MWF Summit, August 2019
Maxwell Simba, Lead actor of the film. Washington MWF Summit, August 2019
William Kamkwamba and Maxwell Simba at the Washington Summit

At the image of those who read, heard or experienced this story, I have particularly been inspired by the “scientific inventiveness” (from dynamo to pump through wind turbines) used as a stepping stone, to solve a social problem (hydraulic, agricultural , nutritional).

Upon my return to Burkina Faso, I exchanged with friends and partners, to explore the eventuality of identifying and supporting talented young Burkinabè, capable of operating a significant and lasting impact upon their community, as did William Kamkwamba.

2. Brief overview of the project (The full content of the project will be left to the discretion of the financial partner).

About seven (07) months after we began discussions, we are at the edge of obtaining a financing agreement of approximately 12,000 US dollars, distributed over one (01) year with the possibility of renewal depending upon the availability of resources. These funds, managed by Aid & Save, will be used to support young people aged 16 to 28 years. Up to 60 to 80 US dollars per month will be allocated over twelve months, to support and prop up their inventive efforts centering on the development of their respective communities.

In addition, Aid & Save identified a partner organization to lead the implementation of the program. This partner will oversee a large part of the program activities in the field and report to Aid & Save. Several attempts aiming at involving the Ministry of National Education or other technical schools, have been proven unsuccessful due to the heaviness of the bureaucracy that dwells in these administrations.

Therefore, with regards to its deeply embedded mission which is to alleviate the process of developing strong and resilient communities by underlining what is relevant, pragmatic and realistic, Aid & Save chose to identify a partner organization with relevant experience and demonstrated expertise in the field of leadership and youth programs in Burkina Faso. The youth association “African Youth Initiative for Development” (AYID), which initiated a similar project called “The SINI MUSO Project” that we will cover over our upcoming articles, was meticulously chosen to execute this program.

Flyer introducing AYID
Achille Sawadogo (Right) Meeting with the Executive Director of AYID (left) to talk about the project, May 2020

Specific objectives:

The project targets the following specific objectives:

Expected results:

This program targets young people between the age of 16 and 28, residing in one of the localities of Burkina Faso and who have demonstrated commitment in solving social issues in their community.

Funding granted, the first phase of the program will be implemented through June and July 2020. This includes the selection process of the laureates (Drafting call for application documents, Pre-application communication, Call for application, Processing of applications, Training and presentation of candidates to financial partners).

It is paramount to mention that this is an auspicious moment to begin the implementation of such a project, given the extra time that was provided to many young people due to COVID19. In fact, most activities were cancelled, including school and sport activities. It is now the time to focus on developing their creativity through various inventions and solutions.