On a day when competition was at its keenest, most interesting yet entertaining, it took the verdict of the experienced panel of judges to cast the die. The winning pitch had to be separated. Separated from the myriad of brilliant and innovative solutions to the sub-region’s waste management challenges. Team Sankara crossed the Rubicon to emerge as the winning team of the Dow – YALI Accra RLC Sustainability Design Challenge.

Six innovative teams, drawn from across West Africa, competed for the bragging rights of winner of the Dow – YALI Accra RLC Sustainability Design Challenge. Prior to the final, some 48 Alumni of the YALI Accra RLC had been selected from across the nine participating countries within the Center’s scope. Selected Alumni from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia made the initial shortlist to participate in the Challenge. Alumni from Burkina Faso, Togo, Cote D’Ivoire and Cameroon also made the cut for the first stage of the competition. All 48 Alumni received weekly tailor-made training in sustainable waste management for the sub-region.

At the latter stage of the competition, six in-country groups were shortlisted as part of preparation for the final pitch to determine the winning group. Teams Green Wealth, Perfect Waste System and Team Sierra Leone were shortlisted for the final stage of the Design Challenge. Teams Sankara, Clean and Friends of Nature, made the second set of teams to participate in the final stage of the competition.

The six final teams were further trained and prepared by training partners, MK-Africa, for the climax of the competition. Each competing team was tasked to identify a major waste challenge within their respective countries around which all training sessions, discussions and innovative design thinking would focus on. The approach was to apply all training lessons to arrive at sustainable solutions for each waste challenge identified.

The final of the challenge, therefore, provided the innovative grounds for the battle of minds on sustainable waste management ideas across the sub-region.

Teams Green Wealth proposed the idea of a tree planting revolution as a solution to cleaning up cities, while Perfect Waste System came up with the idea of using smart bins to manage waste.  Team Sierra Leone pitched the use of recycled plastic to power Africa, with Clean Team proposing ways of properly managing palm kernel. Team Friends of Nature wove their pitch around sustainable fashion and ways of fully utilizing fashion waste in a sustainable manner.

It was Team Sankara’s pitch on making plastics sustainable which wowed the panel of judges. Team Clean were adjudged runners up, while Team Green Wealth emerged as second runners up. The panel of judges comprised environmental sustainability and public policy experts who doubled as representatives of partners Dow, USAID West Africa, and MK-Africa. The YALI Accra RLC, implementors of the Design Challenge, was also represented on the panel.

The judges were Adwoa Coleman, Dow Sustainability and Advocacy Manager/Ghana Country Manager and Oratile Mangope, Technical Service and Development Engineer at Dow. USAID West Africa was represented on the panel by Henry Aryeetey, Regional Environmental Compliance Advisor; while Mr. Kamande, a retired civil servant from Kenya represented MK-Africa. The YALI Accra RLC was represented by Jasper Ahafianyo, Curriculum and Content Manager at the Center.

Team Sankara, for its winning prize, receives $10,000 to implement its pitch idea of plastic sustainability as a solution to solving the waste management challenge.

The Dow – YALI Accra RLC Sustainability Design Challenge is a partnership between the YALI Accra RLC and Dow, with support from project partners, USAID. Dow, a materials science leader committed to delivering innovative and sustainable solutions for customers in packaging, infrastructure and consumer care, has partnered the YALI Regional leadership Center West Africa, Accra over the past five years to provide infrastructural and training support to participants and Alumni of the YALI Accra RLC.