"These activities are beacons of hope," said Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. "They highlight some of the most practical, scalable and replicable examples of what people, businesses, governments and industries are doing to tackle climate change."
Climate change is creating longer droughts every year in Northern Kenya and is endangering a culture that has long depended on raising livestock for survival. BOMA's work, to develop alternative means of income for some of the poorest people in the world, is crucial.
"With income and savings from a BOMA business, women can feed their families, pay for school fees and doctors, cope with emergencies and survive drought," says BOMA founder Kathleen Colson. "We teach women new skills and help families to 'graduate' from extreme poverty, so they can adapt to a changing climate and pave the way for a generation of change."
BOMA was awarded under the "Women for Results" category, which honors activities that demonstrate the leadership and participation of women in addressing climate change. Women for Results is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.
The 17 Lighthouse winners were selected by a UN advisory panel from 252 applicants in 2013, and include a women-led climate campaign in Australia, a project that builds bamboo bicycles in Ghana, and climate-smart housing in Mexico. BOMA is one of seven Africa-based projects and the only project implemented solely in East Africa.
BOMA's cornerstone program, the Rural Entrepreneur Access Project (REAP), targets women living in extreme poverty in rural villages and enrolls them in a two-year poverty graduation program that offers a cash grant (start-up capital), sustained training in business skills and savings, and hands-on mentoring by a trained, local BOMA Village Mentor.
To date, BOMA has launched 1,681 businesses and 208 savings associations across Northern Kenya, helping 5,571 adults who support more than 27,000 children.
For more information on The BOMA Project, go to: bomaproject.org