Tawi Inc.

Vision: To see international development promote sustainability rather than dependency & empower instead of paternalize. Mission: To support intellectual & cultural exchange among stakeholders in international development, health, social & environmental initiatives & research.
Aug 29, 2013

Project Completion

After spending a total of 5 weeks in Uganda, the project team was forced to shift from creating a map of the health care access on Buvuma Islands to a more feasible approach of categorizing different risks and issues that arise within communities on the Buvuma Islands related to health care access.  Much of this was due to the complexity of the situtaion many face in the Buvuma Islands.  However, the new approach that categorized what vulnerabilities effected the islands and where the absence of care existed will have just as significant inportant as the mapped index would have in combating these issues.  This method took a more community focused approach while observing health care access by focusing on what individuals that the main concerns of the area were and also allowed the project team to adjust the health risks for each independent community.  The project was deemed successful in serving as a base for further investigation of the health care system in the Buvumas islands and a success in helping the project members improve their understanding of the rural health care access in Uganda.  

Jul 30, 2013

Initial Post-trip Observations

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What began as mere curiosity about the state of social protection services in Uganda blossomed into something so much larger and more beautiful as my research went underway.  With each consecutive interview and interaction with the NGOs and CBOs carrying the burden and blessing of providing for the nation's poorest individuals, it became clear to me that they lack the resources to be as effective as they wish they could be.

Regardless of the overall mission or mechanisms used to combat poverty by an organization, one theme was often present: microfinancing and income generating activity (IGA) training for some of Uganda's most vulnerable population - women.  Nearly every organization also noted that their biggest challenges were financial sustainability and the lack of government assistance, accountability, and follow-through.  Often, an organization would have the funds to train the IGAs but not to provide loans and would have to rely on group-members' savings for primary funding after utilizing all of their financial resources on materials such as craft materials, fabric, animal feed, baking incredients, or charcoal.

While these programs tend to be successful, at least among the organizations I was able to meet with, one women's microfinancing group in Jinja had likely never heard of the other, similar, organization just two blocks down Lubas Road or Main Street.  My hope is to continue to stay in contact with these women's microfinancing organizations and, in turn, put them in contact with eachother to exchange ideas, resources, and support.  Perhaps by collaborating and sharing resources the organizations can become even more effective and efficient by, for example, can ensure that no one is receiving services from multiple organizations and help those that need it most.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

...so here they are.

1. Rose, the head of Women Rights Initiative (WORI), accepting an application for a microfinancing loan in Mafubira, a rural district (above)

2. Beavan, Rose's brother, making leather shoes to sell at the market.

3. Some of the popular paper beads, a skill often taught to women as an IGA to be sold by foreign or local companies and earn a percentage of the profit or to take to one of the many craft markets.

4. A group member of Women Empowerment and Livelihood Links (WELL) in Mafubira making small pastries that are generally brought for lunch by school children.

5. Children at Clemency Uganda in the Bugembe district performing a welcoming song and dance for me as their visitor

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Photo 2
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Photo 5
Jul 29, 2013

Final Project Report

Number 1. A driver of deforestation
Number 1. A driver of deforestation

The outstanding biodiversity within tropical regions of the world continues to overwhelm me after heartfelt attempts to understand the inctricate biology at work in these places. Perhaps even more mind blowing are the nearly infinite and integral interactions between organisms and how those interactions change over time. Though in reality, what is more interesting to me (and what may be more pressing for our world) is how interactions between organisms change amidst the growth of the human species and the currently unsustainable consumption of resources.

My research attempted to explore one of these macro and microorganismal interactions: the transmission of pathogens between insects and mammals, including humans. I will share three important observations, each with an accompanying picture.

Number 1. Even subsistence agricultural is a driver of deforestation.

It's often times the corporate suits on the chopping block for deforestation. Yet all the evident destruction of the bush in the Buvuma Islands seems to be the result of subsistence agricultural operations or income generation via charcoal. So how do we begin to preserve our forests when the clearing of the land could mean massive payoffs in terms of the development of communities nearby? In the picture, you can see a rice paddy in the sad shadows of a few remaining jungle trees.

Number 2. Agriculture amidst fragmented forests is a goldmine for primates.

What happens when agricultural operations fragment forests? What is the result of this new agro-forest ecosystem? Primates, like the one in the next picture, are forced to exit their shrinking local habitats in search of food, which for the primate happens to be right next door. 

Number 3. Primates near the garden could mean pathogens in the home.

The most direct transmission of pathogens between primates and humans is direct tissue to tissue contact, but in my experience it rarely happened. More evident were less direct exposures like the one in the picture. The day I arrived on Lingira Island, I found Jack with a bite wound from a red colobus. Yet it led to another dead end after learning the dogs in the area rarely bit humans. Then I stumbled upon a key observation -- a different canine with an infant red colobus in its teeth. Is is possible the canine could have given an endearing lick to the nearest child only moments after crushing the body of this primate? I believe it's very possible case-based evidence for primate-human pathogen transmission between a canine carrier. The transmission, however, could be even less direct. Near the end of my research, I learned that primates bring a number of known insect vectors out of the bush and into agricultural operations where both farmers and guard dogs sit exposed to illnesses like African sleeping sickness and maybe even malaria. 

So many questions, so many connections, so many interactions. Much more to learn.

Thanks for everyone's generosity and support.

Eric

Number 2. A calculated risk
Number 2. A calculated risk
Number 3. A carrier close to home
Number 3. A carrier close to home