Economic Development and Opportunities for Entrepreneurialism Through Safe Water: The Story of Jaspher and Susan in Lango sub region, Uganda

Jaspher Opio is a proud beneficiary of the CO2balance Safe Water project in Lango sub region, Northern Uganda. Jaspher lives in a village called Agengi in Dokolo District. He and his wife Susan have two children and 5 dependents. Susan and the family collect water from Aminalucu Borehole which is 250 meters away from their household.

According to Jaspher, before CO2balance intervention, people around his village used to collect water from very unsafe source. Villagers would spend lot time collecting water and fuel for purification. The main source at that time was an open well which had become a health hazard due to poor water quality. Also, children risked drowning in the well.

Aminalucu

Aminalucu Borehole (for domestic use) in Dokolo District, Uganda

‘I am a proud owner of a nursery tree seedling business which I started two years ago and this has increased my household income from 2,500,000 to 5,000,000 Uganda Shillings per season. I grow different tree species like Malaina, Clone Eucalyptus, Pines, and Ashock’ says Japher.

He adds that the initial investment cost for the nursery bed was 2,470,000 UGX (around £500), which he acquired as a loan from a village savings group.

According to Opio, his nursery bed employs 5 workers: two males and three females who are also water users of Aminalucu borehole.

‘the 3 female employees who work for me also live close to the borehole and say that they are now able to work at the tree seedling nursery because they no longer spend long hours in search of water’ added Japher.

Japher’s wife Susan, together with the adult dependents in their household, also help him at the nursery business which initially was not possible because they spent hours travelling long distances in search of water before the borehole was rehabilitated.

Currently his nursery bed is having 1,700 root stocks capable of raising 30,000 to 40,000 seedling of Eucalyptus trees whose potential average total sales is 24,000,000 UGX per year (around £5,000). Japher intends to invest this income in expanding his boda boda (motor cycle transport) business and also start a free range poultry system which will be managed entirely by his wife.

Susan is so happy with the time saved in collecting water from far off sources because she’s able to use it to support their family businesses and contribute to the household income.

The Lango Safe Water Project reduces CO2 emissions by removing the need for households to boil water as a treatment method. As well as reducing CO2 emissions, the project provides safe drinking water and greatly reduces the time spend collecting water and firewood, and reduces the time spent boiling the water. As shown by the story of Jaspher and Susan, this time can be investing in businesses which benefit the household and the wider community through employment.

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Field trip in Uganda

As my Ugandan colleague Andrew already indicated in his previous post, we had a very intense one week in Uganda in early July visiting rehabilitated boreholes and meeting with our in-country partners to assess the on-going works. I feel very lucky that I had a chance to see our projects on the ground and to be able to talk the communities. Some of them shared their joy about the clean water the boreholes have been delivering since the rehabilitation and some other provided invaluable feedback how we can improve the projects to make an even bigger impact locally. Following up the lessons learned during this trip, we are currently working closely with our in-country partners to launch a more participative WASH sensitization program. We are hoping that this sensitization programme will mobilize those communities too that seemed a bit more reluctant to engage actively in the projects and encourage those communities who have been doing an amazing work to keep the boreholes safe and running.

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Alebtong

The most rewarding part of the journey was to see that we are working in an area where these kinds of projects are very much needed.  The decades long civil war has left the Northern districts without viable infrastructure for water supplies. Most of the population have relied on NGOs for years to provide the most basic services needed for their every-day life, however as the situation stabilized and international NGOs left, the government could not yet fill the gap in providing these services. It is great to see that through the carbon component we can commit to at least a 7-year period to maintain boreholes and to provide clean water services in Alebtong, Dokolo, Otuke and Kole. By involving the communities in the every-day running of the boreholes and providing education on WASH issues, we want to ensure  the sustainability of the clean water supplies, not only during the lifespan of the project but hopefully well beyond.

Uganda trip

As Ellie already pointed out in one of the previous blog posts, travelling to the project sites and seeing our projects in action is definitely the most exciting part of our jobs. At the moment I am preparing for my trip to Uganda, where I will have the chance to meet with the communities in Alebtong and Dokolo where two of the CO2balance borehole projects are implemented. In the first half of the week we will go up-country and visit each borehole one by one while in the second half of the week we are heading to Kaliro to meet with our new project partner and to finalise the details of the upcoming stakeholder meeting. It will also give me and Andrew, our in-country coordinator the opportunity to discuss the ways we can improve the sanitation and hygiene component of the projects. As we received plenty of  feedbacks from both local and international stakeholders on our boreholes in the past months, we are looking for the ways to incorporate their suggestions, best practices into our on-going projects, hoping to make the boreholes even more useful for the local communities. Busy and very exciting days to come; stay tuned for the next updates from Uganda!