The Global Goals
The global goals
ALEF's work is permeated by many of the global goals for sustainable development. Our partner organizations are fighting to reduce poverty, reduce inequalities and promote a fairer society.
Below we show how ALEF's work contributes to achieving the various goals. We give examples from the results of 2019. The examples show the participants' strong motivation for change, and how they, with the right knowledge, can improve their lives and promote a more just society.
Goal 1 - No poverty
The first goal in the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development is about reducing poverty. Most of the participants in ALEF's study groups live in poverty. Poverty means lack of money, but also involves a lack of power over one's own life and the opportunity to live a dignified life.
Saving money individually and in groups is a way for people to take control of their finances and begin to move out of poverty. To keep track of their finances and organize their savings, it is necessary to be able to use numeracy and literacy.
Our partner ADECK in Congo-Kinshasa reports that in 2019, 40% of level 3 participants had set a savings goal and started saving to realize it (eg repair their house, buy a piece of land or a motorcycle taxi). Savings help them to gain control over their own finances and makes it possible to increase their income.
In 2019, 13 of ADECK's groups started savings cooperatives after completing the three levels. They save money together in an organized way, and provide micro loans to the members of the group. The loans allow them to start various small businesses and gradually improve their living conditions.
In Uganda, many participants in CACI groups start saving regularly. 22 groups of 38 started saving jointly in 2019. Many participants have also started making shopping lists before going to the market and thus lowering their costs.
Goal 2 - No hunger
The second goal is about hunger: to ensure that all people have access to enough safe and nutritious food all year round.
Agriculture is the main occupation for almost all participants in ALEF's study groups. Our partner ACATBLI reported in 2019 that in Benin, three-quarters of participants have increased their agricultural yields by at least 15%, mainly because they use a calendar to plan their work. They learn how to use the calendar in Level 3. In Uganda, where most groups are located in cities, the groups learn to grow vegetables in backyards in sacks and plastic jerrycans. The groups in South Kivu in Congo-Kinshasa learn in level 3 how to secure crops on slopes against erosion, thereby increasing the yield.
In all courses in our different projects the groups discuss nutrition, e.g. how important a varied diet is for the children, how to notice if the children have nutritional deficiencies etc. In the study groups the participants can share knowledge with each other about different types of healthy foods.
Goal 3 - Good health and well-being
The third goal is about health; a prerequisite for people to live their lives to their full potential. ALEF's courses contain many lessons that address health issues. The lesson themes are based on the specific health challenges among the people participating in the groups.
In Uganda, many participants have tested for HIV as a result of Level 1 discussions. Many also report that they started sleeping under mosquito nets after group discussions about malaria and the importance of mosquito nets.
Our partner ADECK in South Kivu, Congo-Kinshasa, says that in 2019, half of the level 3 participants who previously slept directly on the ground floor made their own mattresses as described in one of the texts. Better sleep contributes to increased energy and better overall health.
In Benin, the mothers who participate in Level 3 learn how to handle the children's health records from the local clinic. Now they can read the dates when the children should be vaccinated, and when to go to check the weight and health of their infants. They understand the importance of hand hygiene and clean water. They also learn how the menstrual cycle works.
Goal 4 - Good education
The fourth goal is about good education for all. This is perhaps the most obvious goal to associate with ALEF. Education is needed for all ages. ALEF's courses are aimed at young people and adults between the ages of 15 and 40 who have missed the opportunity to attend school.
Every year, thousands of young people and adults learn the basics of literacy and numeracy through ALEF's courses. They also discuss their life situation, and make their own decisions about how to improve on their lives.
ADECK in Congo-Kinshasa reports that most people who start in a study group are convinced that they cannot do anything to improve their life situation. By the end of the courses in 2019, 80% had begun to make various changes in their lives, and were convinced that they themselves could do something to make life better.
Many of the participants are parents. In ALEF's course materials there are lessons about the importance of sending children to school and how to support them in their school work. ADECK reports that of the students who started Level 1 in 2019, 90% had children who did not attend school. Almost all those children had started school before the end of the course. Everyone who participated in the courses now make sure to get birth certificates for their newborn children, to enable them to attend school as they grow older.
Thanks to learning to read a little French, participants in Benin can monitor their children's school work. They have learned how to read the children's term grades topic by topic and understand if things are going well or bad for the children. The proportion of parents in the groups who pay for a report booklet where they can read the children's grades increased in 2019 from 50% to 90%, thanks to the discussions about this in the course. The local schools report that children attend school more regularly, and the proportion of children who pass to the next grade has increased significantly.
Goal 5 - Equality
The fifth goal is about gender equality. Women and girls are usually more vulnerable to discrimination than men. Sustainable development in society is only possible when there is equality between genders.
Many of the participants in ALEF's study groups have understood the importance of allowing their daughters to attend school, and this has led to fewer girls being taken out of school at an early age.
The course materials based on ALEF's method often discuss relationships in the household. In group discussions the participants share about their own situation and come up with solutions. Our partner organization CACI in Uganda tells us that couple relationships are often strengthened as the wife participates in the courses and begins to take more responsibility in the family. The household becomes more equal with a shared responsibility.
In the villages in Benin where ACATBLI has study groups, people have started to elect women to the village committees. In doing so, they are given an increased role in decision-making in the local community. As women participate, they can ensure that the voices of women and girls are heard and that their interests are taken into account.
Goal 6 - Clean water and sanitation
The sixth goal is to provide everybody with access to clean drinking water and toilets.
The lack of clean water is often one of the biggest problems for the participants in ALEF's study groups. Therefore, it is a topic usually included in the courses.
The discussions inspire the groups to take the initiative to do something together to improve access to water. One group repaired the village water source. Other groups have created committees responsible for managing wells and water pumps.
Many villages do not have access to toilets. This is also discussed in the courses, and many participants have built their own latrine after the group discussions.
Goal 7 - Sustainable energy for everyone
Goal number seven is to ensure that everyone has access to sustainable energy. There are 940 million people who have no electricity connected to their homes. These include the majority of participants in ALEF's study groups.
This means, among other things, that neither the children nor the adult group participants can do homework in the evenings. ALEF has on a couple of occasions distributed solar lamps to the group leaders in our projects, once in Benin and once in South Kivu in Congo-Kinshasa. The idea is that we introduce new technology to people who would otherwise not come into contact with it. When the neighbors see how it is possible to charge the lamp over and over again at no cost, they ask around about how they can buy their own lamp.
The Fondation Jacot and Solkompaniet donated in 2019 funds for the purchase of solar lamps for the project in Sydkivu in Congo-Kinshasa.
Goal 8 - Decent working conditions and economic growth
Goal 8 is about economic growth and ensuring that everybody has decent working conditions. Increased entrepreneurship is important for economic growth. ALEF's method includes enabling more people to start their own businesses. At level two of ALEF's groups, participants learn numeracy in order to manage their finances. At level 3, they learn how to start and run small businesses.
In the project in Uganda, many of the participants have started small businesses like selling fruits and vegetables, making crafts, etc. In 2019, ten of the groups received sponsored training from a state foundation in the manufacture of shampoo, soap, crayons and baking. A man in another group started making bricks to sell. He had tried it before but could not count the bricks until he learned numeracy in the group. In level 3 in the village of Kajjansi, the whole group started growing vegetables in sacks after reading a text on how to do this.
In the project in South Kivu in Congo-Kinshasa, half of the participants have started some kind of income-generating activity. Several participants have trained as seamstresses. One fifth of the participants have built composts and thereby increased the productivity of their crops. The proportion of people breeding hens, guinea pigs, rabbits, goats or sheep increased in 2019 from 20% at the start of the course to 70% at the end of the course. In Benin, all groups that have completed Level 3 have been transformed into cooperatives. Many of them have built chicken pens and started breeding local chickens. Half have also started growing soy beans, which leads to more cash income.
Goal 9 - Sustainable industry, innovations and infrastructure
The 9th goal is about sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure. ALEF's programs are particularly relevant to sub-objective 3, which is about facilitating access to financial services and markets.
In all ALEF courses, participants are taught how to use their mobile phones to send and receive money. Without literacy and numeracy skills, people can't even keep a cash book, and even less transfer money through mobile services.
The fact that the groups form economic associations and can take micro-loans increases the opportunity for participants to start and run businesses.
Objective 10 - Reducing inequality
Goal 10 is about reducing inequality and promoting inclusion.
Inclusion is, among other things, about providing opportunities for adults to study. ALEF gives a new chance to women and men who did not learn to read, write and count when they were children.
Other important aspects of inclusion are to provide opportunities for people in remote villages in rural areas to study, and to make it possible to learn in their own native language. ALEF's partners in Togo & Benin and in South Kivu in Congo-Kinshasa work with people in small villages in the countryside. All ALEF's courses are in the local mother tongue.
In all ALEF study groups, participants talk about their rights and what equality means to them. A young girl in Cigezi in South Kivu in Congo-Kinshasa was supported by her study group to claim her inheritance, which she had been denied because she was a woman. One of the study groups in Uganda organized a debate with local leaders on violence against women. This got a lot of attention in the local community.
Goal 12 - Sustainable consumption and production,
Goal 13 - Fighting climate change
Goal 15 - Ecosystems and biodiversity
Goal 12, sub-objective 2 is about efficient use of natural resources. Sub-objective 3 in Goal 13 is about raising awareness about climate change and climate adaptation.
ALEF's partner ACATBLI in Togo and Benin helps create committees in the villages for reforestation to give people access to firewood and wood. At the same time, the number of trees increases, resulting in better microclimate, with more rainfall and less erosion. The committees contribute to raising awareness among the population about how they can counter climate change themselves.
Sub-objective 3 of goal15 addresses restoration of destroyed land. In the savannahs of Togo and Benin where ACATBLI works, the soil is depleted from intensive cultivation, poor crop rotation and overuse of chemical fertilizers. The ALEF courses include training on how to restore the soil by rotating the crops and using natural fertilizers.
Goal 12 sub-goal 3 deals with food wastage and losses after harvest. ALEF has several lessons in our different courses on how to handle and store food so that food is not destroyed.
Goal 16 - Peaceful and inclusive communities
Goal number 16 is about reducing violence, abuse, corruption and promoting legal security.
The discussions in the ALEF lessons are often on these topics. In one lesson the problem of impunity is discussed, and what may happen if villagers take justice into their own hands. Other themes are about corruption, and what to do when asked to pay bribes to access basic community services.
In South Kivu, where the law is often not respected by authorities, our study groups have been able to act together several times to free participants who have been arrested without committing a crime, or forced to pay bribes to receive hospital care.
Several lessons are about how to best correct children - is it good for the child to beat it? We have received repeated reports of how parents stopped beating their children after discussing in the group about the negative consequences of corporal punishment.
A lesson on rape in level 2 in the Kikongo course in Kongo Central has led to interesting discussions. Normally people avoid talking about this, but in the study groups a safe environment is created where people dare to talk about topics which are usually taboo.