I first heard the words “meeting under the mango tree” as a euphemism for having a predictable, easy to access process for enabling community members to raise issues and concerns in a safe and familiar place. There is no fixed agenda and no one-size-fits-all for these exchanges. With one company we set up drop-in centres in each local village with a designated community officer in attendance everyday. Another made it known that a company person would be available “under the mango tree” for two hours every market day. I am hoping this blog will achieve something similar – the regular, free and open sharing of ideas and experiences. Time will tell how well it works out.
Community Health Archives
Companies, Communities and the Sustainable Development Goals
Last year I wrote about how smaller companies can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals by staying focussed on the intersection of company, community and global priorities – the sweet spot. This year, I’d like to see what these sweet spots look like, starting with SDG3 which aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
I recently came across this story from Zimbabwe while clocking up some miles in the gym – an ABC "All in the mind" podcast about grandmothers, mental health and the friendship bench. Having benefitted from access to counselling when going through my own difficult times a few years back it struck a cord. Inspiring and a reminder of the ingenuity and strength of local solutions. From very small beginnings the friendship bench has been exported to Kenya, Botswana, Malawi, Zanzibar and, perhaps surprisingly, New York City...
I can’t think of one site I’ve worked on or visited that doesn’t provide some level of support to improving the availability of clean water and better sanitation. It is easy to cut the cloth to fit the available resources, although it must be said this is an area where it is easy to under-estimate the amount of effort to create long lasting behaviour change which goes far beyond simply providing a borehole or building a toilet and hoping for the best, which unfortunately is an approach taken by many companies, big and small...
Community health is another area that is very broad and where it pays to stay focused on a (relatively) small number of areas. Malaria, HIV and communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and hepatitis have long been priorities for company and community alike. Ebola and COVID-19 are more recent concerns. The first three are essential in so far as ensuring a healthy workforce is concerned and are standard practices for responsible companies operating in Africa. And they are not that difficult to address...
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