In this blog post, we interview Archieford Chemhere, the Country Programmes Coordinator at Action 24. Action 24 is the ACCESS Regional Node for Southern Africa, based in Zimbabwe, coordinating ACCESS engagement in the region. In September 2021, the organization unveiled its engagement strategy, promising increasingly impactful engagement in the region.

Tell us about yourself and the work you do

I am the Country Programmes Coordinator for Action 24, a Zimbabwean NGO that responds to environmental concerns like climate change and energy. The organization operates at the community level and takes an inclusive approach where we address the needs of different segments like youth and special groups. I consider myself an agent of positive change for communities by enhancing the inclusion of the poor and marginalized in the development agenda and I take this approach because climate change is a huge threat to mankind, disproportionately affecting last-mile communities.

I have over 12 years of experience in programme implementation in this field, and I am passionate about environmental issues and disaster risk reduction. My motivation also comes from involvement in the negotiation processes on climate change at the regional and global levels. As a passionate advocate, I have been engaging with the Zimbabwean government and other development partners including UNDP and SIDA, contributing to policies and plans that respond to the threat of climate change.

You sound like an activist. Are you one? Tell us more about your journey to social activism.

I am a social activist who is intentional in my resolve to provide solutions for communities to combat challenges from climate change. I always consider a multi-faceted approach when addressing environmental and climate concerns, where poverty is also alleviated.

In my early years in school, I recall excelling in Geography, and that is where my journey started. I then pursued a Bachelors in Geography and Environmental Science and now hold a Master’s in Development majoring in Environmental science.

At Action 24, I realized that CSOs play a critical role in complementing the work being done by the government in the development of policies and plans, and I have therefore been engaged in different capacities to bring the change I desire. I am driven by my desire to see communities empowered and poverty alleviated.

How do you engage communities in your energy and climate change advocacy?

I always have an element of community engagement in my approaches. At Action 24, I have facilitated some consultative processes that involved communities and special groups. They include the consultation on the Zimbabwe National Climate Change Response Strategy (NCCRS), Renewable Energy, and Climate Change policies. I also facilitate outreach for awareness-raising in these areas.

I am currently engaging youth from universities and schools to bring awareness on these issues, target behavior change using research, as youth are the best agents of change. Our framework of engagement involves evidence-based advocacy to drive change.

Any additional milestones?

The team at Action 24 takes credit for significantly contributing to the Zimbabwe National Climate-Smart Agriculture Manual. We were also involved in the process of developing the Climate Change Response Policy and Strategy. The Action 24 team also formed part of the steering committee on awareness-raising on the Zimbabwe Nationally Determined Contributions.

What is your view on Zimbabwe’s Energy Transition?

The energy transition will present opportunities and costs for the country. Since Zimbabwe has significant coal deposits, it might present a loss of income and revenue for communities that rely directly or indirectly on coal mining. The road map for cutting emissions should be incorporated in the NDCs to address any economic implications. We would also like an accountable, transparent, and corruption-free Zimbabwe that owns its commitment to the energy transition process.

What do you feel is the role of Action24 in realizing a Just Energy Transition?

The organization sees the need to engage communities through community-based approaches that drive behavior change among communities, making them adopt renewable energy technologies. Research and innovation is also critical in understanding the just energy transition process and to aid in the design and implementation of the right policies and plans at the national level.