Awards spotlight: SITA Air Transport Community Foundation

28th February 2020

Web p30 amber harrison 2019

Related Topics

Related tags

  • Transport ,
  • Engagement


Christopher Garratt

Amber Harrison, IEMA Fellow and director of CSR and sustainability at SITA, talks about the project that won IEMA's Community or Social Value Award

How did the idea first come about?

SITA has a global presence, so with the creation of the Foundation initiative we wanted to undertake a community project that impacts individuals in countries that we work in. Our SITA council was very keen to show a commitment to young people and technology. We picked Africa because there are around 10 million people under the age of 18, which is increasing rapidly, but there is also a huge skills gap and a lot of educated people leaving, contributing to brain drain.

What did you hope to achieve?

We wanted to work on ICT education programmes for young people, and encourage them to stay in the country by working with local communities and supporting ongoing programmes so they stay engaged. By providing ICT labs and dedicated teachers, students are learning their state curriculum and doing well. They are also taking on other projects such as website design, which is benefiting the schools and their management offices, too.

Why are tech skills important for sustainable development?

We see a lot of technology growth and adaptation across Africa, but ICT skills aren't universally widespread. With the development of mega cities, and more aviation and technology companies moving to the continent, we want to make sure young people have the opportunities to support entrepreneurship.

Are they staying in the local communities?

We support tertiary level students in universities and schools through degrees related to ICT, computing or aviation, and we are seeing a lot of students choosing to pay it forward. One recent success story involved a young man from the Congo, Jules Ntumba, and we supported him through his education. He graduated last year, and has set up his own company teaching young people – particularly girls – how to design, build, code and fly drones. He is encouraging the next generation to stay in the Congo and learn.

You have a particular focus on gender equality, why?

Gender equality is a challenge in many countries, but particularly across some nations in Africa, where it is traditional for girls to drop out of education early because of family or marriage expectations. We partnered with several charities, including Promoting Equality in African Schools, whose schools have a 50/50 female-male intake. A lot of girls are challenging the boys in technology, and that is good to see, as both genders do better when there is an equal playing field.

We are seeing a lot of students choosing to pay it forward

How do you measure progress?

I try to visit the programmes that we run at least once a year. We have projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya. I join monitoring and evaluation visits with the charities, and spend a few days meeting students, teachers and principals to understand what is happening and what we can do better. We look at student and teacher retention and marks. We have capability assessments to evaluate computing skills, and interviews to find out what works and what doesn't so we can adapt and evolve. A number of teachers have become heads of departments or vice principals, or have adapted the programmes and rolled them out in other schools.

How did you feel winning IEMA's award?

I was thrilled. Sustainability is becoming more and more important, and a lot of people have been working behind the scenes for a long time. What I love about the awards is that they bring these people into the spotlight and highlight the incredible things that have been happening. It helps to inspire people and it is always nice to be rewarded.

Sita Highlights

  • Since 2014, the Foundation has helped more than 80,000 young people in Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe through projects delivered with its charity partners. These include the provision of ICT labs and equipment, teacher training and access to funding for education.
  • Additional projects: implementing solar power at schools in Zambia and Uganda; funding students at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa on courses related to IT, computer sciences, electrical and information engineering, and aeronautical engineering. It funds a $10,000 innovation award for students at Witwatersrand, the Tshimologong Innovation Precinct in South Africa and 16 seats for entrepreneurs at the Tshimologong Innovation Project.

For further information on the IEMA Sustainability Impact Awards 2020 visit:


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.

Transform articles

Weather damage insurance claims hit record high

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

One of the world’s most influential management thinkers, Andrew Winston sees many reasons for hope as pessimism looms large in sustainability. Huw Morris reports

4th April 2024

Read more

Vanessa Champion reveals how biophilic design can help you meet your environmental, social and governance goals

4th April 2024

Read more

Alex Veitch from the British Chambers of Commerce and IEMA’s Ben Goodwin discuss with Chris Seekings how to unlock the potential of UK businesses

4th April 2024

Read more

Regulatory gaps between the EU and UK are beginning to appear, warns Neil Howe in this edition’s environmental legislation round-up

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close