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Earth Hour Header 2014
TEXT TO CHANGE IN UGANDA
So it’s that time again, when we all see the picture perfect impression of how Christmas is supposed to be. Santa has clearly had a drink or two too many, riding his fantastic sled, and is properly dressed for the occasion in his polar temperature resistant outfit. Okay, okay… this postcard description is from the Northern hemisphere, but we all get the idea, right?
So what greater achievement is there than keeping Christmases white? It’s a bit cryptic, I admit, but this just about summarizes the goal Earth Hour and Text to Change, where I work, have set in a mutual SMS awareness campaign.
The idea is to educate, activate and motivate people in Uganda to get involved in “giving nature a hand” by cleaning up their environment, lowering daily emissions and investigating what else can be done to reduce man’s environmental impact. The main thing we all had in mind was to prevent this initiative from being solely informative (“you can do this, you should do that”), instead to make sure people were motivated to act, and perhaps to promote their actions and ideas to their social networks. Let the green message spread! Those that have already read one of my blogs will know what the approach was; we use text messages, Africa’s number one communication tool.
Besides the brilliance of the Earth Hour concept – millions of people worldwide switching off their lights for one hour – what do you do when you live in a country where power cuts are so normal that it would be a privilege to be able to switch your lights off for an hour?
In Uganda, one of the most beautiful countries of Africa, the approach to the Earth Hour campaign is slightly different. As many people in Uganda have a mobile phone, or at least access to one (in 2010 therewere more than 12 million mobile cellular subscriptions, nearly 1/3 of the population!), WWF and Text to Change established an innovative partnership, where people could send in a free SMS where they commit to contribute and reduce CO2 emissions. Within one week over 200 people have sent in commitments like: “in 2012 I will plant 500 trees, sensitize communities, stop throwing plastic bags around, use energy saving stoves, avoid bush burning for charcoal” and much more. Another part of the SMS awareness campaign is that people promise, by texting WWF SOLAR to the short code, to replace their kerosene lamp with a Firefly solar lamp. If they send WWF STOVE, they promise to replace the old stove with an energy efficient one, saving them 50% of normal firewood or charcoal costs. For both products, WWF covers 20% of the cost.
I’ll keep you posted about the results. If you want to read more, look HERE.
So, that´ll be our Christmas present to nature, I guess. To you all, enjoy your holidays and merry TEXTmass!
Josette de Vroeg