Teddy, a teacher at Rwampara Farm Institute in Uganda, sent us an update this week on their new irrigation system and we wanted to pass on the news. Rwampara is the first Farm Institue we have partnered with and it faced serious issues relating to soil erosion and low crop yields. Working with the school, we determined that their irrigation methods were exacerbating the problems and we together we investigated how this could be improved. We invested in the installation of an industrial sprinkler irrigation system, one of the very first in the area. This was one of six projects supported by the Innovation Fund and enabled by your generous donations.
Students completing the National Certificate of Agriculture (NCA) learn how to cultivate crops and maintain livestock. As part of the course, each student is responsible for four metres squared of land. Before the sprinkler, students used jerry-cans to water their crops. This irrigation technique, commonly known as flood irrigation, resulted in many problems: inefficient use of scarce water resources; waterlogged soil; and spread of waterborne illnesses to name just a few. Critically, students wasted time watering the land instead of being in class. Many of the stakeholders we interviewed said the problems were exacerbated by climate change, mentioning noticeable changes in the productivity of the land, pointing out its dryness and reporting that they were struggling to irrigate it efficiently. Flood irrigation requires a lot of time and water - resources that were in short supply in the school. Something had to change.
We invested your donations in a 28-metre radius sprinkler, which could irrigate several thousand meters square of land in one go. The sprinkler now irrigates crops, such as bananas, cabbages, eggplants and coffee, without the need for cumbersome, manual work. Students have more time for study, and the soil has become more productive, resulting in higher yield. The school is now able to sell surplus crops and earn an additional revenue which they hope to invest in getting internet access. This is something the Principal Mugisha has always dreamed of doing, but could not afford. Your donation continues to open up new possibilities and opportunities for the school community.
Rwampara has embraced the sprinkler. Staff and students are proud to own and use a technology that they have learnt about in theory but, until now, not had the opportunity to use in practice. It has become a source of prestige and a symbol of the school embracing modern farming technologies. We hope the success of the project will give other farmers and farm institutes in the region the confidence to invest in more productive agricultural technology and will inspire a new generation of farmers.
We would like to thank you for making this all of this possible. We could not have done it otherwise.
Many of the schools that we have worked with East Africa have few creative outlets for their students, focussing instead on academic achievements. Students often report suffering from exam related stress and anxiety, but lack sufficient extra-curricular channels to relieve this, and express their emotions in a fun and constructive way.
Two EPAfrica project workers, Vince and Chloe, have spent this summer volunteering with EPAfrica at St Joseph’s Shibinga High School, to pilot a new type of EPAfrica project that hopes to address this situation. They have invested £200 of the money donated to the Innovation pilots fund on our GlobalGiving platform, and supplemented this with their own project funds, to set up a small music studio in the school. The hope is that this will help improve the mental wellbeing and academic performance of the students, and also allow those talented in the arts to flourish creatively.
The project will be completed in the next two weeks, allowing Vince and Chloe to see the students’ initial reaction before they leave Kenya. EPAfrica will be maintaining contact with the school and monitoring the impact of this project, to see if this innovative idea is something that might be beneficial to more EPAfrica schools in the future.
This project is just one of six new and exciting EPAfrica projects that your money has funded this year.
Another project was set up by EPAfrica volunteers Donya, Evan and Hiu Min, who have spent the summer at St Benedict’s technical institute in Mbarara, Uganda. Technical institutes in Uganda often struggle to provide their students with the practical experience necessary to pass their exams. To address this, Donya, Evan and Hiu Min have come up with a project that can equip agricultural students with valuable experience, while also providing an additional source of income for the school: beekeeping. Under this project, £200 of your innovation pilot donations were used to purchase five beehives, along with a full beekeeping suit and harvesting equipment.
The St Benedict’s students have until now only learned the theory of beekeeping, but now they can finally see how it works in reality. In fact, they have already been getting stuck in with the hive installation (see the photo above). The beehives are a ‘natural’ style of beekeeping, allowing bees to build their own comb of honey that the school will then harvest for themselves. The school staff have already been trained in setting up and managing the beehives, as well as in marketing the honey. In addition to this new source of skills and income the bees are expected to have a positive impact on the school’s agricultural production, on which it relies for food, and the students and teachers are looking forward to the honey’s nutritional benefits (and great taste!). EPAfrica will follow the project’s progress carefully to see whether this idea could be used in other partner technical institutes in future summers.
This snap-shot of two of our innovation pilots gives an idea of how a small amount of money can be used in very different ways to enhance the learning environment of students in East Africa. Our four other projects are just as diverse and exciting: a sprinkler irrigation system for enhancing water efficiency in a farm institute, a laptop-based system for improving school administration and formalising the payment-in-kind of school fees by poorer families, a novel way of designing girls' washrooms to improve sanitation, and an income-generating passion fruit farm.
Our teams in East Africa have reported that great progress has been made so far this summer on the projects supported by this fund. Each project is tailor-made to suit the needs of the school, but each has the potential to be applied to other similar schools in the future. We are hopeful that these projects will not only create a great positive development impact now, but will also help EPAfrica to learn what works best to continually improve our impact.
We have not forgotten that you, the donor, are making these exciting projects happen! Thank you so much for giving so generously to EPAfrica’s project on GlobalGiving - none of this would be possible without your support.
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