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
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
Community elects Committee members
Noah resorts to a public address system
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.
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.
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 (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
Isaac and mercy training community members.