Guest Blog: A First Attempt at Crowdfunding for Climate Action in Kenya

Susy Wandera holds a B.A in Economics from the University of California, Irvine, an a M.A in International Studies from the Claremont Graduate University and written, published and edited several articles on climate change.

I tend to look at everything in the world through climate change eyes. At a recent meeting on examining the learned lessons from various adaptation actions, a new legislator made a comment that indicated misunderstanding of the body responsible for coordinating Kenya’s climate change activities.

I could not let that go answered and strove to correct the person, referring to Kenya’s Climate Change Act which stipulated whom and how said body is directed to carry out their mandate.

However it was clear to me that more was needed. I thought about a project to design a climate change communications strategy and toolkit that could be spearheaded by my organisation, Sustainable Environmental Development Watch (SUSWATCH). The primary aim for this project being to address the gap of folks’ understanding the roles of different players in tackling climate change and help better articulate the various aspects of this subject matter.

The little I know about crowdfunding is that it can mobilise support quickly unlike the traditional source of submission to entities who take a bit of time before making the decision to approve or reject funding a project.

For the past couple years I have thought about trying crowdfunding, but I was uncomfortable with the process and stopped each time. The meeting I mentioned earlier galvanised me to act, and so I took a deep breath, broke through my comfort zone and made an application to the GlobalGiving Accelerator Programme.

I had not been aware about the amount of work necessary to bring our project to the attention of others. I had thought submitting it to the crowdfunding platform would be enough. Clearly not!

The project entitled “Enhancing Climate Change Knowledge Management in Kenya” to me resonates with the capacity building negotiations agenda under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its Paris Agreement.  While this agenda item is close to my heart, I have kept the negotiations part out of project. At the same time I believe knowledge management is informed by a country’s experience of the climate change discourse at home and abroad and has its bit to contribute in capacity development.

To ensure I could interest folk who were not in the climate change arena and who may want to support the project, I have used language that is as people-friendly and free from jargon as possible.

As a climate change practitioner I know there is a continual desire to know more about this subject matter in my country among a varied group of people. These range from communities to business to the legislature to state officers to young people to women. Each of them has a specific interest which include responding to the vulnerabilities they experience and/or transforming the seeming “doom and gloom” into innovative opportunities.

New information in the climate change arena is a constant flow, and yet folk must be able to make sense of it so they can find their part to play.  A Kenyanese term a group of young people I worked with in 2009 coined this  description as “Rauka ama HatutaSurvive” meaning wake up or we won’t survive. The “we” highlights the collective engagement of everybody in tackling climate change.

The test of whether our project will be carried out is about to happen when the fundraising goes live on June 11, 8:00am Washington D.C time and ends June 29, midnight. So I have asked friends to be fundraising advocates to help get the word out. And if folk are moved to contribute, to do so, so this activity can be a “go.”

18 days for a make or break for the “Enhancing Climate Change Knowledge Management in Kenya” to raise US$85,000.

I am trying to be all Hakuna Matata like Simba et al in Lion King because I am way way beyond my comfort zone. I hope folk will resonate with this climate activity and support it.  Thank you for your support in advance!

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