Event to highlight Israeli nonprofit work in Africa

African children benefitting from the support of Innovation: Africa
African children benefitting from the support of Innovation: Africa (Courtesy of Innovation: Africa)

Can Israeli technology make a difference in the lives of people in Africa?

Attendees of an upcoming Zoom webinar will have the chance to find out. The webinar will feature Sivan Ya’ari, the Israeli founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa, a nonprofit organization that works to bring Israeli solar, water, agricultural and technological advancements to rural African communities.

“To date, Innovation: Africa has brought light and access to clean water to over 3 million people across 10 African countries,” Ya’ari said in an email.

The Baltimore Jewish Council is hosting the webinar, which will take place at 11 a.m. on Sept. 19.

“The whole purpose of [Innovation: Africa] is to really bring Israel’s technological advancement to rural villages in Africa,” said Zahava Klein, director of Israel and Jewish advocacy at BJC. “So that people are not walking miles upon miles for water, and that classrooms in Africa have electricity, and that individuals are not lacking the basic resources that they need to be able to live.”

The event was the brainchild of Bob Chertkof, a member of BJC’s Israel Committee, Klein said. Chertkof had come across Innovation: Africa and its work and mentioned it to Klein and the committee chairs. The committee chairs generally encourage members to propose different programs or organizations that it can showcase.

In recent years, BJC’s Israel Committee, which is spearheading the Innovation: Africa event, has been largely focused on politically oriented programs, explained Klein. This has included Israel’s recent elections and its response to the pandemic.

“My hope was really to bring a different light to Israel, to show them that Israel is really more than just politics and the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and to talk about Israel’s many, many technological advancements and the many wonderful things they’ve really brought to the world,” said Klein, a resident of Pikesville and member of both Congregation Shomrei Emunah and a new synagogue, Bais David.

“People need to understand that Israel is a first-world country among third-world countries and has really done so much to benefit the world as a whole,” Klein continued.

Sivan Ya’ari is the founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa
Sivan Ya’ari is the founder and CEO of Innovation: Africa (Courtesy of Innovation: Africa)

Some of the technologies that Ya’ari plans to discuss include drip irrigation, as well as the energy box and remote monitoring system, she said. This last technology, she explained, allows for the live monitoring of their projects to determine, at any given time, how much water is being pumped and how much energy is either being produced or consumed.

Klein said Innovation: Africa and its contributions are just one example of what Israel has given the world in terms of science and technology. Other examples include the development of cell phone technology and work in pharmaceuticals.

“Boycott, Divest and Sanctions [movement] is so strong these days, that people forget that if they support BDS then they should just throw their medication out the window,” Klein said.

Ya’ari hopes attendees leave with an understanding that not very much is required to fundamentally transform people’s lives through existing technology.

“With just a few solar panels, we can provide light to schools, medical centers and orphanages,” Ya’ari said. “But most importantly, with solar energy, we can pump clean water to communities with populations as large as 10,000 people.”

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