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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Why invest in borehole projects in Uganda?

In our previous blog entries we have already discussed how borehole rehabilitation projects can reduce co2 emissions originated from burning biomass for water purification. Today’s blog entry wants to shed a light on the current situation of the water sector in Northern Uganda to show that beside climate change mitigation, investing in borehole projects makes a big difference in people’s life on the ground.

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Across the globe, around 884 million people lack access to safe water supplies; which is approximately one in eight people (UNICEF/WHO). Only 22-34% of the population of sub-Saharan countries have access to clean water (UNEP), so it is clear that the problem of safe water supply or water stress is of particular concern in the region. It is in part due to the high variability and climatic extremes present in this area of continent, but the primary reason is a lack of infrastructure. The situation is further complicated in Northern Uganda – the project area of CO2balance – where communities have developed a dependency on development programmes as a result of having lived in IDP camps for over 20 years (UWASNET). The region experienced conflict as a result of armed rebellion by the Lord’s Resistance Army, which led to widespread displacement of almost the entire population of the region (UNICEF). The recovery now is under way, but several challenges slow down the reconstruction of the area. Water stress has been shown to be one of the key barriers in achieving economic development, so achieving the growth necessary to invest in infrastructure remains out of reach in a vicious cycle.

Through effective and accountable external funding and through close cooperation with local communities, co2balance aims to provide a potential model in coping with the lack of investment in Kole, Alebtong, Otuke and Alebtong districts, hoping that this way we contribute our fair share in solving the problem. For more information on our boreholes stay tuned on this blog where our in-country coordinator will post regular updates on the progress of our clean water projects.