Deeper growth

Over the past two years, co2balance has worked with partners in Uganda to develop safe water based carbon projects. We have learnt several lessons and grown to our 5 fully operational projects with two projects in the pipeline.  For further information on how to partner us visit the company website http://www.co2balance.com.

The biggest partnership we realized we had to develop was that with the communities. To have a functional water project it is necessary that aspects of community health and sanotation are included within. Communities have a structure through which such activities are developed. The policy in Uganda is actually that such structures must exist for every single borehole community. We have found that this loose management structure and its voluntary nature of operation comes with some shortfalls but we have found that community input is of utmost necessity if any long term sustainability is to be achieved.

A past community meeting in Alebtong District

A past community meeting in Alebtong District

Through our partners we have been able to train these communities and impart the responsibility of management upon them. In the coming weeks we indeed have activities like this planned in otuke District. Otuke has shown some good examples of well managed boreholes so we are looking forward to see more active community participation after the training in sanitation is carried out.

A well fenced borehole at Goi B in Otuke. This shows the best level of protective fencing for boreholes.

A well fenced borehole at Goi B in Otuke. This shows the best level of local protective fencing for boreholes.

We expect to improve our community engagement within the next xouple of months but we are no doubt doing something right to see a response like the above from a community.

We aim to continue with this positive approach when we expand with our second project in Kaliro. We are always interested in partnering with like minded individuals interested in using innovative solutions to help solve problems faced by communities. To get in touch with someone from co2balance email uganda@co2balance.com or as stated above, simply visit our website http://www.co2balance.com to find out more about the impact being created by the work of co2balance.

Supporting self-reliance

The hallmark of projects implemented by co2balance partners in Uganda over the past two years has been a strong partnership with communities. Water as a resource requires that the communities who consume it have to get involved in management of the boreholes lest they get back to their original state of ruin.

Last week, I got a chance to visit a local community of mainly farmers in Mbale district to distribute solar lamps as part of CSR with a local partner Peros coffee. Without a doubt the impact on the lives of the communities that the lamps will make only shows on their faces alone and the expected improvement in the study conditions of their children seems to be what excited them most.

The history of this school speaks of great commitment  from the community as well as community members. It is not uncommon to find a local school in Uganda with students seated under a tree but the residents of the surrounding village would not wait to sit back. They burnt bricks and from one grass thatched mud brick building they now have 3 classroom blocks with a total of around ten classrooms to serve their student population of 845, an average of about 121 from each class.The  school project is still ongoing and there were indeed some bricks buring in the background for their newly planned toilet facilities.

Communities like these are not uncommon in Uganda. Often the levels of service delivery have been poor so communities get together to do something that would benefit them long term. One of the communities we work with in Kaliro District in Saaka once showed us a hall that they had built from money gathered locally. This hall may act as a meeting place for students to do holiday study, for nursery school students to attend class and indeed for the community councils to hold their meetings.

We always encourage communities to be vigilant and that is why we are able to grow our projects. All the communities where we work were in the process of looking for money to repair their water sources. Unfortunately in some cases these processes had dragged to beyond two years and they had given up. However, the gaps bridged by carbon finance go a long way to restoring the basic human dignity offered by access to safe water and improved water and sanitation.

Before and after, a story from Kaliro

Often we get to see the stories of project success after projects have been implemented in communities. When in the field, we only spend a few minutes or hours with individuals and get to see how the projects we develop are impacting their lives. We often get to see only small details that inspire the progress we propone.

Recently on a field visit to our borehole project in Kaliro, it was seemingly one of those journeys. On a rainy Tuesday afternoon when we arrived at one of our proposed borehole repair sites. On arrival this is what we saw.

Noah at the water source.

Noah at the water source.

We found a collection of sinkholes in the valley that had been washed over by the just completed rain and so we got into a pleasantly animated discussion that is common among the people of this region. At this point one of the community members took to explaining how they get their water. She showed us a process that shows how much effort they put into getting this water.

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From a hole full of water she would empty it completely and let water seep in from the ground. This process would be continued until she considered the water clean enough to pour into her water container.

Though clean-ish looking, the water is exposed to  so many contaminants it ca.t be considered a safe water source. This community will be one of the next ten to be serviced by our second borehole project in Kaliro district. They will be trained in WASH to ensure they observe good sanitation and their new water source will be tested frequently to ensure it is safe for them to consume. Next year will be a good one for the people of Kaliro.

Kaliro Projects

I have spent the better part of this month in the field in Kaliro working on our monitoring surveys and then coordinating a Validation site visit by Gold Standard and Fair trade auditors. it has been a great time meeting with the communities and personally receiving their appreciation on behalf of co2balance. On one occasion, the community in Bukongolo followed after us during my surveys and performed a song and dance to appreciate the work that we had done. On another occasion a borehole committee chairperson offered us a chicken which served as our next day’s lunch.

One thing I really enjoyed about working with them was their eagerness to contribute to the process. After being mobilized by the community leaders it was good how they all took their time to ensure the systems in place are working and working for them. When developing projects it is such a temptation to impose rules upon community partners but sustainability is achieved in having community members charting out a suitable destiny for themselves.

Some members of the Budumba Water User Committee

Some members of the Budumba Water User Committee

Recently I wrote about the borehole that had remained unusable for the last 5 years, I was most glad to see this borehole, Iguliryo Nyolo, functional again.

An appreciative community member

An appreciative community member

We found out during the meeting that averagely in a year 9%-13% of boreholes are none functional and this could add up to as many as 50 boreholes and potentially 20,000 households lacking water during the year. The impact of every borehole rehabilitated is felt in terms of health, security, access to water and in temporal terms each household’s ability to earn more from the available time they have at had. We also received several testimonies about how marriages are happier now as well. Each step matters and so does each hand that partners to make the lives of others better.

12 km per day less

Ruth Nanyanzi is a Form 3 student of Iganga girls Secondary School. She comes from the village of Iguliryo in Kaliro district in Eastern Uganda.

Ruth Nanyanzi a resident of Iguliryo

Ruth Nanyanzi a resident of Iguliryo

Every holiday she spends a week at home in the village. Her village is not connected into the national grid and so she is restricted to daytime hours to get that extra study needed to compete with the students from the urban areas of the country who get extra hours in the night to do their holiday study.

Currently her home is located 2km away fro the nearest borehole. She has to go there three times every day which adds to a total of 12 kms. This makes her lose a lot of time that could have been used for study and as a result she has much less time for study and for her social time as well. However, there is a borehole right in front of the house where she lives  that has been non functional for about 5 years.

Borehole hidden by a plant camouflage

Borehole hidden by a plant camouflage

When I first went to this area, I did not recognize it as it had been overgrown by a bush in the middle of the garden.

Presently this borehole has been rehabilitated, much to the delight of the community. Ruth is currently at school preparing for what we used to call “Moscow” exams ( the exams the year before finals). When she gets home and gets the motions going to prepare for her final year, she will be extayic at the prospect of going 12 km less every day to collect safe water.

WASH In Kaliro

I spent the last week with co2balance partners in Kaliro starting of the WASH projects and visiting project sites. It was a good exercise as I got to ensure the partners understand our expectations and that we were not pushing them to unreasonable levels and I also got to understand the experiences they face when out in the field.

We started off with a field WASH exercise with the community in Mwangha. We managed to get the community to select and commit members of the water resource committee to agree to their leadership roles and they also agreed on how they would manage the fund. We carried out an exercise on important aspects of primary health care and proper sanitation and by the end of the meeting they were very satisfied with the output. This meeting was so animated and full of enthusiasm at some point we had to resort to using a public address system to get the attention of the community. This was offered by a community member.

The drummer calls people for the WASH meeting

The drummer calls people for the WASH meeting

Community elects Committee members

Community elects Committee members

Noah resorts to a public address system

Noah resorts to a public address system

 

The District Water Officer, Larston, explains a point on water and sanitation.

The District Water Officer, Larston, explains a point on water and sanitation.

During this trip , I got to both enjoy and experience first hand the daily experience of our local partners. We visited all ten boreholes currently within our Kaliro system. They are all within a radius of about 10 km but the access to them is made difficult by the indirect routes lining them. We were met with the start of the rainy season so at the end of each day, we found ourselves escaping the rain and the slippery roads that come along with it.

Fixing a log in the middle of a swampy road as the rain approached.

Fixing a log in the middle of a swampy road as the rain approached.

It was a fulfilling and physically draining  week and we are looking forward to continuing the WASH exercises and starting repairs as well this week.

 

 

Darkness at noon, the sun after the rain

This week presented Uganda with the paradox of an exciting storm. Kampala was ablaze with the uproar of “Darkness at noon”. One clever blogger actually did a good work at photoshopping alien spaceships into the Kampala sky. We also experienced new flood zones with the Coty Authorities as usual getting the blame. Am glad that finally the urban populace is catching up to what is happening and our president keeps mentioning climate change and environmental sanity as part of his development plan for this country.
two weeks ago in Alebtong, we could not help but notice that a bring was about to collapse. Fred the driver from Joy drilling our partners kept saying that that bridge would not survive the next rains. unfortunately, the next rains have been torrential rains and there has been some damage especially to roads in Apac district which would mean that there is damage to some of the areas where we are doing work and the field teams will experience difficulty in accessibility during this rainy season.

Fred (L) during a previous field assignment

Fred (R) during a previous field assignment


This week we resumed our field monitoring surveys in the North and this was led by Isaac and Mercy from our NGO partner Joy Drilling. Mercy is actually a project officer from Joy Drilling who is dedicated to working on Co2balance projects. She is a Graduate of Social Work and Social Administration at from Kumi University where she was also their student Guild President. Having observed her work during the WASH training sessions, I believe that together with the seasoned Isaac, we shall have many improvements to our field work.
Mercy (L) during a WASH meeting

Mercy (L) during a WASH meeting


Isaac and mercy training community members.

Isaac and mercy training community members.

Discussing water and sanitation

I spent last week in the North of Uganda looking to setup a sustainable WASH programs in Alebtong District. We found out that in terms of community mobilization it is a very busy time. The government of Uganda is issuing new identity cards to citizens all over the country and the registration process is at selected points on particular days which if missed would require a not particularly easy effort to go through. As soon as we reached the subcounty headquarters to announce our work in the local area, we found long queues of eager citizens each waiting for their 10-15 minutes. We had had mobilizers in the field the previous day from our NGO partner but they had not been informed of this.

However, when we went down to Akullu Afranco, a borehole names after “Franco”, mid afternoon on the 31st of August after a day of mobilization on the 30th,  we found community members on site and eager to get into the discussion. We must remember that WASH is a community driven process and in order to have a successful program community leaders must be mobilized further into communities who will lead the management of boreholes and further more be directly involved in the setting of by laws and in training community members in water and sanitation.

Isaac and Mercy opening the meeting

Isaac and Mercy opening the meeting

The on-site program

The on-site program

Due to the ongoing registration process we were initially skeptical about holding a meetings since some of the old committee members were absent. However, the chairperson was adamant the agenda must proceed as those present are the ones who always showed up.

 

The Chairperson makes himself clear.

The Chairperson makes himself clear.

The meeting was mainly attended by the ladies of the village and they were very keen in choosing members on the committee. As per requirements by law, 5 of ten members must be female and the others male.

 

3 of the female committee members.

3 of the female committee members.

After forming these committees, the memberss were informed of their responsibilities.

Isaac writing down community responsibilities.

Isaac writing down community responsibilities.

Among the responsibilities is,

  • Organizing community meetings to discuss wash issues
  • Maintaining cleanliness around the boreholes
  • Enforcing the to be agreed on rules.
  • maintaining a list of all the households that use the boreholes
  • Managing the cash collections made from communities for their activities, a requirement by law.

We took some time to explain certain aspects of why health and sanitation are important. We discussed how boreholes get contaminated and why they should be kept clean.

Isaac with a visual tool that was passed around.

Isaac with a visual tool that was passed around.

 

At the end of this session, community members were satisfied. The next is to pass on the specifics of WASH management which we could not do that day because of the shortage of time. WASH meetings are still going on , today as well, for other boreholes in order to cover the 10 boreholes in our network. I will write about those subsequently.

 

After the meeting

After the meeting

 

 

LSC in Kaliro

On the 11th of July, co2balance and WAACHA, one of our local partners, net with the community in Kaliro district in a Loal Stakeholder Consultation meeting for our newest water VPA. It was one of the most vibrant meetings I have attended and led in my 4 years at co2balance.

This particular LSC had lots of questions on the technical implementation of the project and how the community would get involved. They were also quite keen on the quality of water available and the steps we would take to ensure the water available was safe.

The District Chairperson made an appearance for the meeting and spoke passionately about the need for such partnerships to meet their objectives as funds were short. he greatly expressed his gratitude and from the manner of his speech, there was no suprise how he is the District Chairperson. His crowd engagement was pretty impressive.

Kaliro District Chairperson

Kaliro District Chairperson

Each borehole was represented by ten people and led by a Water resource committee chairperson and this was confirmed during the introductions when they would stand up in unison. They assured us of their full cooperation after a discussion on their roles in borehole management and ensuring health and sanitation in their villages. The emphasis was well placed on this by the chairperson of WAACHA but it was brief as we have future planned Water and Sanitation activities as well.

All the discussions were translated and often time Noah, the Projects Director from WAACHA added a linguistic footnote. There are some phrases best expressed in the local language, which was to me a new dialect of Lusoga language. The main difference i could tell was the “D” were replaced with “Z” for example “Kuidha” which means to come was “Kuiza”.

Andrew and Noah during a discussion

Andrew and Noah during a discussion

This is a partnership I am loking forward to and I greatly thank the people of Kaliro for their warm welcome.

Noah introducing his team.

Noah introducing his team.

Progress

My colleague , Eszter and I have just got off  a grueling week of field visits where we covered more than 1500km on land visiting different boreholes repaired by co2balance in Alebtong, Otuke and Dokolo districts of Uganda and assessing the next ten we are to repair in our first project in the East of Uganda In Kaliro. We analysed their systems to understand how we can  improve on the service delivery to the communities and ensure the boreholes are continuously serving safe water to them. Without a doubt it was quite gratifying to see all the boreholes in perfect physical condition. It wasn’t too much of a puzzle understanding as well that community participation was making the project a much better prospect than those with lesser degrees of involvement.

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Maintenance in progress at Adekirwai borehole

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Water from Adekirwai borehole in Alebtong district in a mineral water bottle

 Having seen firsthand the impact of adequate community mobilisation, we shall now embark on a WASH program to sensitize the communities on the impact health and sanitation practices have on the provision of safe water.

Without a doubt, Ester was satisfied with what we have achieved and she knows that the efforts we are putting in are making a huge impact in the lives of thousands of people. In the end, only a picture can describe this.

Goi B (2)

Completed maintenance work at Goi B in Otuke district

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Eszter and the ever reliant Baba Richard “Omumerika” during a stop on the way back to Kampala