CONFERENCE: World Water Week, Stockholm.

SIDE EVENT: Africa AHEAD AND Stockholm Environment Institute

YEAR: 2014

AUTHORS: Dan Wolf

TITLE: Mobilising Community for Improving Water, Energy and Sanitation in Uganda

LINK: VIDEO PRESENTATION

ABSTRACT: 

Dan Wolf is a human rights lawyer who founded an organisation called the International Lifeline fund (ILF) to improve the living conditions particularly with refugees and most impoverished communities in developing countries, with two projects in Haiti and Uganda being the biggest. Currently 90% of the population of Uganda rely on bio-mass and 40% have safe drinking water. For the past 7 years ILF have 120,000 stoves and 270 water points, with a million beneficiaries. H2O project started in 2003 to improve socio-economic conditions in Apac District, focusing on clean water and fuel efficient stoves. Women are the engines of villages life, spending two hours collecting wood and another 2 hours collecting water. The average family consumes 15 trees per year on cooking. There was already  a CLTS project so we also decided to compare this with the CHC approach to address the hygiene component of the WASH project.

The goal is is establish a CHC in every village and 100% coverage of clean water through drilling of boreholes in Apac  district, which is currently at 45%. We want to create a market for people to buy fuel efficient stoves so the prototype is only being distributing to 60% of households in the expectation that the rest will buy one.

Why are we using CHCs?  I was not convinced they would work. Apac district is not as well developed as in Zimbabwe of Rwand and they are a  fragile community ravaged buy 20 years of civil. I didn’t think people would gather every week for two hours to discuss because people have a dependent syndrome and wont do anything without an incentive. I was also skeptical that there would be people in the village that could orchestrate this programme. Howeve r the programme started as planned and three months ago I went to Uganda to see the progress and went to villages without warning to see the how the hygiene sessions took place.

Truly, it was amazing! In a community of 100 households and there were 60 people who showed up for the meeting despite the fact there were other meetings going on. The session was mind-blowing to say the least. The way women communicated were extremely effective, and there were songs and drama and everyone was fixated on the messages and I reckoned that at least 60% of the people spoke,- it was very participatory. I can see now that the CHC is the beginning of civic society in these villages, as there was literally no such organisation before the CHC. The engagement of the members was palpable.

One of the problem we had was promoting the stoves at scale, and a demand needed to be created. We have had success in towns, and have sold 40,000 to people who cook with charcoal. The average family spends about US$8 per month and they can save 50% of this. They named it  the ‘peace making stove’. However, the challenge was to sell stoves in rural areas, as people don’t tend to pay for saving time in the same way as they may in town, so may not invest in a stove. We had to design another clay model which has been tested and is working well. The CHC are critical to create a market in the rural areas. Through the  CHC we are dealing with a ready-made audience as they are already sensitized. The facilitators are phenomenal, and we can sell it with theCHC,  and a group purchase solves the distribution problem.  From what I see this is going to stand a good chance of working.