The state of poverty was witnessed in Akuyam village in Uganda where the villagers had gone for three days without eating. This was noted by Sivan Ya’ari and her Innovation Africa group. They were on their way to investigate on the organization’s solar water-pumping and drip-irrigation projects in six nearby villages in February 2017. They witnessed 37 people dying within one week which was facilitated by high drought and poverty.
Ya’ari is the founder of the NGO organization. The Israel citizen founded the organization in 2008. After witnessing what was happening in Akuyam village, she effectively added the village to iA’s list of projects in the Karamoja region. She also started iA’s emergency feeding program different from the organization’s mission of deploying Israel technology in raising the durable standards of living in African villages.
According to Brand when addressing ISRAEL21c, they had to go back to Israel and raise money to help those in need. Though challenging they managed to raise $110, 000 which they used to buy maize, beans, and various food commodities through an African supplier. iA’s country manager in Uganda reported that both the emergency aid and the water-pumping project have led to healthier and happier Akuyam residents.
iA has installed solar technology in medical clinics schools, and orphanages in 150 villages in Cameroon, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, South Africa, Ethiopia, and, DRC, Senegal offering clean water and electricity to more than 1 million people. Using Israeli knowledge to harvest energy from the strong sun in Africa is the key to taking away rural villagers from poverty and food insecurity. Electricity allows them to pump water for lighting up classrooms, drip irrigation, and refrigerate lifesaving medications and vaccines.
iA is positioned to do even more, since Israel became an official partner in the USAID Power Africa initiative for sub-Saharan Africa, where two out of three residents lack access to electricity. Ya’ari was on a panel with other solar-energy champions including Yosef Kaptain Sunshine Abramowitz of Energiya Global and Power Africa Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz on December 4, 2017, ceremony in Jerusalem marking this opportunity for many Israeli companies to take part in electrifying Africa.
The conditions she saw made her earn a master’s degree in international energy management and policy from Columbia University and then to intern at the United Nations Development Program. She established Innovation Africa that was initially called Jewish Heart for Africa as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit in New York, where it has its headquarter. She moved back to Israel in 2009 and headed iA’s Herzliya Pituah office. They also have offices in Tanzania, Malawi, and Uganda.
iA has 16 members of staffs including managers well versed with the countries in which they work. Salaries are paid from grants separately from funds raised for iA’s projects. Donations are usually obtained from bar/bat mitzvah children. One Israeli bar mitzvah celebrant contributed $18,000 to power a primary school in Uganda for 1,000 students. He and his mother flew there in October for the installation ceremony.
All is not over after the completion of the project alone instead iA goes ahead to train the locals on how to take good care of the solar energy systems which are monitored remotely from Israel. iA helps each community create a small business to raise funds to replace light bulbs and other costs. iA was given Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 2012, and in 2013 it won the Innovation Award at the UN Global South-South Development Expo in Nairobi.
In 2017, iA collaborated with UNICEF to install a solar water-pumping system in one village, provide solar energy to three medical clinics, and pump water in Bertoua the capital of the Eastern Region of Cameroon. Among the beneficiaries of the project are 250,000 refugees from the Central African Republic. Seven iA water-pumping projects in Karamoja, Uganda, as well as one in Congo and four in Senegal, were accomplished in partnership with the Christian Broadcasting Network and private donors.