Health, Sanitation & Hygiene
1. Community water technologies
A Cup of Cold Water: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
Everyday, women and children all over the district of Kamwenge walk miles down a “road of death” to fetch their daily water. This water isn’t even clean – it’s filled with all sorts of water-borne diseases.
The diseases found in unclean, contaminated water kill 1.8 million children every year globally. Because of diseased water, many people in poverty-stricken areas suffer severe health problems. Sadly, they are unable to fix the situation because they are too poor. But UVRC can step in and provide the help they desperately need.
In Matthew 10:42, Jesus urges us to give water to the thirsty. Taking this call to heart, UVRC shall work with partners to implement water provision projects for suffering communities, delivering fresh, clean water to these “little ones.”
New water well offers relief in so many ways: it stops disease, promotes healthy bodies, and provides the means for families to become self-sufficient by growing their own gardens and caring for their own animals.
Clean water is absolutely vital. With clean water, these thirsty communities can do more than merely survive – They can truly have life! Just as this water brings them physical life and health, these wells stand for years as a reminder of the Living Water: Jesus Christ. The clean water they receive every single day lets them know that God truly loves them.
By the year 2040, the drilling of fresh water wells will reach a good number of communities with clean water. With more than 1500 wells put in use, each serving an average of 130 people, the estimated target number of changed lives will reach 195,000.
The average cost of each well is $2,400. Each well provides water for 130 people or more. This means that a person can receive a lifetime of clean water for as little as $18.5.
This water project will be an exciting demonstration of God’s love because clean water really can change everything!
UVRC will use a combination of appropriate water technologies, water health education and basic research so that communities can identify and solve their water problems.
Our mission is not to simply provide safe water to those in need, but to train individuals and communities to create and maintain their own local water resources. We shall do so by a highly interactive process combining formal instruction with hands-on training. We shall establish teams of community based technicians for rural technology development among which water technologies will be considered.
UVRC will work with the international community of corporate partners, foundations, supporters, and volunteers to help the Initiative reach a wide coverage in the district
Our water project will have two key goals in mind. The first is to promote awareness and encourage debate among the public and organizations on the need to create a new culture for water, to enable the equitable development and sustainable management of the world’s water resources.
The second is to carry out a whole host of actions to counter the negative effects of the lack of adequate water resources. The initiative will be involved in infrastructure, education, health and research activities concentrated in the most deprived areas of Kamwenge district.
Current water Conditions in Kamwenge
In much of Kamwenge district, water supplies are unclean, unsafe and unreliable. Water sources are often stagnant pools or brooks that are only available during the rainy season, or flowing streams. This water is:
- Unfit for human consumption
- A fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes that cause malaria
- Infested with waterborne diseases causing cholera, diarrhea and dysentery, as well as parasites such as guinea worm and tapeworm
Women and children routinely trek up to one or more miles to fetch water in Jeri cans for drinking and cooking. They often have to queue up to receive water for their families.
The Water initiative project first aims at the provision of basic human necessity: clean and safe drinking water. UVRC aims at the empowerment of women. It augurs well for as a project that engenders Women in Development. In the near future, this project will enable UVRC to develop the necessary infrastructure for sustainable agricultural operation (irrigation scheme system), micro-business schemes, and small scale storage/preservation projects.
The Project will also spin out a small business venture that will purify, bottle, market and sell water there by creating a productive and gainful economic activity for the rural women and their communities.
2. Biogas systems 2040
Can you imagine having to find wood for fuel to cook breakfast? What if you had to do it in a place without any trees? What if you had to burn that wood inside a small kitchen, where the smoke you inhaled made you sick? That’s the reality many of the rural communities, especially women, face every day.
The great news is that the same livestock that are providing them with nutrition and income have something else to offer − their waste, which can fuel a biogas generator and provide an odorless cooking fuel piped right into the family’s kitchen! Communities around the world are beginning to build and use biogas generators. That means healthier women, healthier children, and a healthier environment.
UVRC, in our vision for Kamwenge and neighboring communities, envisage a system of devolved, self-sufficient communities, sustaining their needs from the local environment, and organizing income generating ventures around co-operative structures. Diminishing forests and a burgeoning, mainly rural biomass-dependent population necessitates a coordinated effort of rural Kamwenge to supply itself with a dependable and sustained source of energy using locally available materials.
Energy from solar, wind and hydro all have a significant future potential to play in a mixed energy production scenario. However, of particular interest here, in the context of providing a devolved, sustainable energy supply for the burgeoning rural sector in a country like Uganda, is the potential of biogas; the gas created as a product of anaerobic digestion of organic materials.
UVRC views biogas technology as a vehicle to reduce rural poverty, and as a tool in part of a wider drive for rural development. By 2040, there is expected to be about 2000 household and community biogas plants installed around Kamwenge. This essay will critically examine the drive to provide rural communities with an ‘appropriate’ energy source, with particular reference to the rural poor.
The potential benefits of biogas in a rural economy will be outlined, followed by the biological and biochemical foundations of methanogenesis, and the evolution of biogas technology. Case studies from different parts of the country will be considered, from construction of biogas plants, to their long term functioning amongst the communities they are designed to serve.
The enormous potential of biogas for the rural communities can be copied from rural communities of other countries like India. The capacity is derived principally from estimated agricultural residues and dung from cattle. Biogas technology may have the potential to short-circuit the ‘energy transition’ (Leach 1987) describes from biomass to ‘modern’ fuels. Biogas technology is a particularly useful system in the rural economy, and can fulfill several end uses.
The gas is useful as a fuel substitute for firewood, petrol, diesel, and electricity, depending on the nature of the task, and local supply conditions and constraints (Lichtman, 1983), thus supplying energy for cooking and lighting. Biogas systems also provide a residue organic waste, after anaerobic digestion, which has superior nutrient qualities over the usual organic fertilizer, cattle dung, as it is in the form of ammonia (Sasse et al, 1991).
Anaerobic digesters also function as a waste disposal system, particularly for human waste, and can, therefore, prevent potential sources of environmental contamination and the spread of pathogens (Lichtman, 1983). Small-scale industries are also made possible, from the sale of surplus gas to the provision of power for a rural-based industry; therefore, biogas may also provide the user with income generating opportunities (KVIC, 1993).
Apart from the direct benefits gleaned from biogas systems, there is other, perhaps less tangible benefits associated with this renewable technology. By providing an alternative source of fuel, biogas can replace the traditional biomass based fuels, notably wood. Introduced on a significant scale, biogas may reduce the dependence on wood from forests, and create a vacuum in the market, at least for firewood which in turn might reduce pressure on forests.
What is more certain is the impact on rural women’s’ lives. Promoted by KVIC, and other bodies as ‘eliminating drudgery of women, a regular supply of energy piped to the home reduces, if not removes, the daily task of fuel wood gathering, which can, in areas of scarcity, be the single most time consuming task of a woman’s day – taking more than three hours in some areas (Lewanhak, 1989). Freeing up energy and time for a woman in such circumstances often allows for other activities, some of which may be income generating.
Additional knock on benefits in this context, apart from a positive contribution to the household economy, may be an increase in personal status, both within the family, and the wider community, and a greater role in decision making; no small feat in the traditional gender power imbalance, characteristic of rural communities.
A clean and particulate-free source of energy also reduces the likelihood of chronic diseases that are associated with the indoor combustion of biomass-based fuels, such as respiratory infections, ailments of the lungs; bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer, and increased severity of coronary artery disease (Banerjee, 1996). Benefits can also be scaled up, when the potential environmental impacts are also taken into account; significant reductions in emissions associated with the combustion of biofuels, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), total suspended particles (TSP’s), and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s), are possible with the large-scale introduction of biogas technology.
The use of biogas systems in an agrarian community can increase agricultural productivity. All the agricultural residue, and dung generated within the community is available for anaerobic digestion. Therefore more is returned to the land. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, the slurry that is returned after methanogenesis is superior in terms of its nutrient content; the process of methane production serves to narrow the carbon: nitrogen ratio (C:N), while a fraction of the organic nitrogen is mineralized to ammonium (NH4+), and nitrate (NO3–), the form which is immediately available to plants.
According to Sasse et al (1991), the resulting slurry has double the short-term fertilizer effect of dung, while long term fertilizer effects are cut by half. However, in the tropics, the short term effects are the most critical, as even the slow degrading manure fraction is quickly degraded, due to rapid biological activity. An increase in land fertility, then, can result in an increase in agricultural production. The knock on benefits may include improved subsistence, increased local food security, or income generation from a higher output.
Biogas systems, then, offer an integrated system that lends itself to a rural setting; the plants can be maintained with a variety of organic residues, from humans, animals, crops and domestic food waste.
3. Natural medicine clinic
Integral to biogas technology also, and the philosophy it represents, is the requirement of devolved, and self-reliant communities to manage the systems. This may seem a rather obvious point to make, but necessary nonetheless. For biogas systems to be truly viable and workable in rural communities, demands the technology to be preferably generated from within the community.
UVRC’s Natural Medicine Clinic will be based on the life and ministry of Jesus, who healed people irrespective of their belief or ethnicity. In John 9: 1-7 it is described how Jesus used locally available resources to heal a blind man.
Natural Medicine is defined as being the combination of the advantages of traditional herbal medicine, e.g. the use of local resources, good healer / patient contact, easy access to healer and medicines, with the advantages of modern, western medicine, e.g. good hygiene, accurate dosages.
UVRC aims at running seminars develop projects and distribute information and materials that enable people in the rural communities to become more self-reliant with regard to their health and social and economic well-being.
- UVRC shall promote the protection and cultivation of healing plants in the rural communities, and the skilled preparation of and treatment with natural medicines.
UVRC, therefore will:
- Conduct training seminars for health workers from state, NGO and church initiatives.
- Teach agriculturalists, health workers and pastors to establish gardens of healing plants for demonstration, and fields for cultivation.
- Develop reliable and reproducible recipes for making natural medicines from locally available healing plants.
- Support the establishment of pharmacies that specialize in locally produced natural medicines that are inexpensive and easy to use.
- Encourage existing pharmacies to stock and promote natural medicines.
- Promote the production of Natural Medicines by hospitals and clinics.
- Undertake research into alternative treatments for common diseases, e.g. by promoting the cultivation and use of common medicinal plants
- UVRC will support people in the rural communities in becoming more active in the care of the environment.
UVRC, therefore will:
- Give instruction in the appropriate disposal of waste.
- Teach people how to collect, conserve and purify water.
- Promote the planting of trees, especially trees that increase soil fertility and provide food or medicine.
- Encourage the use of biogas, solar energy and fuel efficient stoves.
- Propose alternatives to the use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.
- Encourage churches and community based organizations to be involved in the protection of the environment.
- UVRC will support people in the rural communities to become more self-reliant, and oppose processes of so-called development that have more to do with maintaining the social and economic supremacy of the foreign countries.
UVRC, will therefore:
- Support people in rural communities to cultivate their own medicinal plants and from them to produce their own medicines.
- Fight every threat to this right by resisting the patenting of traditional knowledge by multi-national corporations.
- Research and campaign against the manufacture and distribution of soaps and creams that contain mercury.
- Oppose the dumping of unhealthy or dangerous products, e.g. sugar drinks, out-dated medicines.
- UVRC will encourage local and international cooperation in pursuing these principles.
UVRC, will therefore:
- Involve pharmacists, doctors, health care workers, healers and traditional mid-wives together in the same seminars, as well as being totally ecumenical in involving people from all church backgrounds and Faiths, and then encourages participants to establish the means whereby they can continue to collaborate.
Develop an international network for the exchange of knowledge about healing plants and natural medicines.