Water Crisis in UgandaWater is a necessity for all living beings, and access to safe water is a basic human right. Despite the world’s experiencing exponential growth in all areas with advances in science and technology, 663 million people are without access to clean water. The country of Uganda is no exception: 51% of Ugandans are in need of safe water resources. This lack of clean water affects the health of the Ugandan people, their productivity and their economy. Here are some of the realities everyone needs to know about the water crisis in Uganda.

The Current State

Currently, 21 million Ugandans lack access to safe water. One in nine people lack quality water and have no alternative to dirty, contaminated water sources. The stress of economic growth over the last two decades put an enormous strain on the land and its resources. Up to three-quarters of the surface water in Uganda is polluted, making it unsuitable for consumption. With no other choice but to drink contaminated water, people are often too sick to work or attend school.

Human waste, soil sediments, fertilizers and mud all run into drinking water sources due to the widespread absence of proper toilets and showers. Additionally, the lack of adequate filtration systems and the loss of vegetation, which acts as a natural filtration system, creates dirty water that leads to various health problems. 144 million Ugandans are still collecting water directly from these rivers, lakes, and other surface water sources. According to the World Health Organization, over 3,000 small children die a year from diarrhea in Uganda. Other waterborne diseases include hepatitis A, dysentery, typhoid and cholera.

The water crisis in Uganda also makes 40%  of Ugandans travel more than 60 minutes to access safe drinking water. Some travel up to three hours a day, without a guarantee of finding water. Excess time spent on water provision hinders people’s ability to work, maintain the household and take care of children.

Initiatives for a Better Future

Many initiatives are underway to address the water crisis in Uganda and the problems it has created. For example, in 2013, Water.org launched its WaterCredit solution, which has led growth for water and sanitation loans. This initiative has reached 259,000 people and disbursed $10.3 million in loans, helping to create long-term solutions to the water crisis in Uganda.

Another program addressing water in Uganda is the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative, which transforms contaminated water into clean and drinkable water for school children. Over 300 women in Gomba, Uganda were trained to build rainwater harvesting tanks and Biosand filters. The simple filter consists of layers of rock, sand and gravel that remove 99% of bacteria from water. Funded by Aveda and GreenGrants, this initiative also conducts programs about hygiene and sanitation to support these women. Thanks to this program, school children are safe from typhoid and diarrhea that could keep them sick and out of school. Remarkably, Gomba saw a reduction of school absences by nearly two-thirds thanks to filters and harvesting tanks.

Additional projects that focus on drilling new boreholes in barren areas and repairing existing boreholes help relieve long travel times for water. Generosity.org has concentrated on rehabilitating boreholes by working closely with the District Water Departments of communities in need. Generosity.org also aided in the development of water user committees, which create an infrastructure to ensure the boreholes are maintained and cleaned through fee collection. Its work aims to achieve the sustainability of these boreholes for the future, putting an end to the water crisis in Uganda.

Looking Forward

Ugandan leaders have recognized that water is a basic human right and understand that better water and sanitation systems are critical for a healthy society and a stronger economy. The Ugandan government now aims to have clean water and improved sanitation for everyone by 2030. Uganda plans to reach this goal by investing in quality water infrastructures, which involves restoring and maintaining clean water sources as well as promoting hygiene and investing in sanitation facilities. The organizations that are providing loans for wells, restoring boreholes and creating filtration devices are helping realize this ambitious goal. This focus on making clean and safe water available to everyone is critical. Without water, there is no life.

Tara Hudson
Photo: Pixabay

fighting covid-19 with innovationSince the first diagnosis of COVID-19, the virus has spread to more than 200 countries. The unanticipated challenges of the pandemic take a significant toll on people, especially those in countries where the accessibility of essential resources and healthcare are limited. Despite this fact, nations around the world have demonstrated their resilience and critical thinking during this calamitous time. COVID-19 has revealed negligence in economic and healthcare systems all over the world, but it has also inspired innovation in science and technology. It is clear that humanity looks to overcome these difficulties and build the world into a better place. Here are four countries that are fighting COVID-19 with innovation.

4 Countries Fighting COVID-19 with Innovation

  1. Iran is developing a low-cost, easy-to-build ventilator. It is being developed at the University of Tehran’s School of Electrical & Computer Engineering. The ventilator is for patients with severe respiratory distress. Hospitals around the world have been experiencing a shortage of ventilators due to their elaborate structure and high production cost, which inhibits quick, large-scale manufacturing of the machines. The lead scientist of this endeavor, Hadi Moradi, has made this an open-source ventilator. He plans to share his team’s design with other scientists so that they can modify and build ventilators for their own communities.
  2. In Uganda, Grace Nakibaala created the PedalTap. It is an affordable, foot-operated water dispensing device that reduces the spread of infectious diseases. In Uganda, people have a 60% chance of contracting an infectious disease if they wash their hands in a public sink because the handles can be unsanitary. Nakibaala’s device works hands-free so that people can avoid contact with viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19. It is also water-efficient, retrofittable and durable, making it a sustainable technology among those fighting COVID-19 with innovation.
  3. Australia has recently launched a contact-tracing app called COVIDSafe. The app uses Bluetooth technology to find other devices with the app installed. It measures how far users are from each other and how much time they spend together. COVIDSafe keeps users’ contact information for three weeks before deleting it, to account for the two-week incubation period of the virus. Users diagnosed with the virus may upload their close contact information. This allows health officials to look up others who are diagnosed, find the COVIDSafe users they have come into contact with and instruct them on what to do.
  4. In China, patients at a Beijing hospital are receiving mesenchymal stem cell injections. These injections are helpful for regenerating lung tissue, allowing patients to fend off COVID-19. So far, researchers reported the results of seven patients treated with stem cells. Each patient suffered from COVID-19 symptoms, and each received a single infusion of mesenchymal stem cells. A few days later, researchers said that symptoms disappeared in all seven patients and that there were no reported side effects. Currently, 120 patients are receiving stem cell treatment, and while more clinical testing is necessary to validate these trials, the results look promising.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on healthcare and political systems worldwide. However, these four nations have demonstrated that they can productively conquer the challenges that the virus brings. Along with these four, other nations worldwide are responding to these unprecedented issues in novel and innovative ways, fighting COVID-19 with innovation and redefining healthcare for generations to come.

Sarah Uddin
Photo: Flickr

Deforestation-in-Uganda
With only 10% of the rural population of Uganda having access to electricity, it is no surprise that the rest of the population is forced to rely on other sources for food and energy. Unfortunately, this means that many people cut down trees leading to one of the highest global deforestation rates. Each year, nearly 3% of Uganda’s forests are cut down for fuel, agriculture and to make room for an increasing population. At the current rate of deforestation in Uganda, the country is likely to lose all of its forests in the next 25 years.

The repercussions of these actions are clear to see. Besides the landscape almost being completely devoid of trees, the dry season has become longer and filled with more droughts. The loose soil has caused heavy rainfall to turn into deadly floods, while crops are producing less and less yield. The wood from cut trees is mostly used to fuel stoves for cooking. But this has caused a separate issue where the smoke collects inside homes and causes respiratory issues for family members who stay at home and cook.

How Mud Stoves Can Help Reduce Deforestation

Badru Kyewalyanga, a local man frustrated by the minimal action from the government on the matter, developed a solution to this issue: mud stoves. The stoves are made of mud, water and straw, and require little time to be constructed. Balls of mud are thrown into the ground to remove air bubbles and prevent cracks. The mud is then molded around the trunk of a banana-like plant called the matooke tree. The stove is cut and arranged to form a combustion chamber, a chimney and several ventilation shafts. After two weeks, the mud hardens and can be removed from the tree and is ready for use.

The stoves are incredibly efficient as they require only half the amount of wood for fuel compared to a traditional stove and oven. In addition, the placement of the chimney when attached to a wall of the house means that the wood smoke can escape without being trapped inside. Kyewalyanga, along with local and international volunteers has worked together to build over 100 stoves helping villagers to breathe cleaner air, while also reducing the rate of deforestation in Uganda.

Use of Mud Stoves in South Sudan

The stoves have now begun to spread their usefulness to other groups of people in Africa as well. Refugees from South Sudan are often forced to venture into the forests for firewood or charcoal to prepare meals, which is risky due to the prevalent violence in the region. Unfortunately, they are left with little choice if they are to survive. However, they were introduced to a newer and more efficient method of cooking by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

ADRA’s mission was to provide necessary supplies to the refugees escaping South Sudan. One of the items provided to the refugees was the mud stove developed in Uganda. Because the stove emits a smaller amount of smoke than a conventional stove and minimizes the number of trees to be cut down to collect fuel, they became incredibly popular. Members of ADRA were able to give demonstrations and trained women and children on its usage. These projects have shown that mud stoves are a useful and efficient way to provide a cheap way to cook food as well as fight deforestation in Uganda and other parts of Africa.

Aditya Daita
Photo: Pixabay

Ugandan Women in PovertyPoverty affects millions of people around the world. What is often overlooked, however, is that women are deeply impacted by the struggle of poverty and are threatened by it in ways that men may not always be. One nonprofit, The Greater Contribution, has been tackling these issues in their battle against Ugandan poverty in the wake of the coronavirus.

Background

Ugandan women, not to mention women across Africa, have been uniquely affected by not just the pandemic but also poverty. Over 70% of African women who don’t work in agriculture work in the informal sector—work such as market and street vending. Many of the women working in these jobs in Uganda don’t simply have to worry about law enforcement confiscating their goods being sold in undesignated markets. They now must also worry about how they will survive in a severely slowed economy. Furthermore, the work that is most threatened by the crisis—such as accommodation, food service, real estate and business services among others—employs 41% of the female workforce worldwide.

As unemployment rises, it’s predicted that women will take the brunt of the damage and that the number of Ugandan women in poverty will increase. While illustrating the extent of the issue, humanitarian group CARE pointed to Guatemala, where 96% of the women benefiting from their entrepreneur programs are no longer able to afford basic food items, as an example of the issue. In many of these cases, Ugandan women are not wealthy business owners but are simply seeking to make a living day-to-day and hand-to-mouth. This is as true regarding poverty in Uganda as it is anywhere else.

The Greater Contribution

The Greater Contribution is working to amend these issues. The NGO, which has been in operation since 2006, primarily focuses on providing microloans to and organizing literacy programs for Ugandan women in poverty or on the cusp. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve been adopting new strategies in order to best aid impoverished women. As of late, they have started a virtual event running through the month of July called Lift&RaiseHER. The program is designed to raise funds for struggling female-owned businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Supporters will make a donation and take a picture of themselves lifting a household object, meant to reflect how they are working to lift up Ugandan women in poverty. They’re then asked to share the photo on social media in order to get the word out and encourage others to contribute. The financial goal of the event is to raise $20,000 between July 4th and July 31st.

This hasn’t been the only action that The Greater Contribution has taken. After an emergency appeal, they raised $5,000 in order to deliver basic foodstuffs and emergency supplies to over 800 of their borrowers. Furthermore, their staff has manufactured and delivered their own hand sanitizer after price gouging made it all but unavailable to the impoverished. These steps, while not always massive, are nonetheless important to effectively combat poverty in Uganda.

Conclusion

The impact that the global epidemic has had on the impoverished is undeniable. But thanks to the work done by nonprofits like The Greater Contribution, some semblance of recovery is being offered to the women who are on the precipice of poverty, particularly Ugandan women in poverty. They provide a model others should seek to emulate worldwide.

– Aidan O’Halloran
Photo: Flickr

How Simple Cooking Stoves in Uganda Are Helping People EatUganda, an East African country that Winston Churchill once referred to as the “pearl of Africa,” is growing fast, with a population of about 34.5 million. The country has a rainy season and a dry season, and those climate conditions lead many Ugandans to be farmers. However, Uganda is facing a massive problem with deforestation, which in turn can cause uncertain weather patterns. People, who rely on cutting down trees for firewood to cook food in stoves in Uganda, partly cause this deforestation problem. However, a man named Badru Kyewalyanga has created a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable stove.

The Problem

Deforestation in Uganda poses many concerns for the population. With only 10% of Uganda’s population receiving electricity, the only option to create energy to cook food for many people is to cut down trees and burn firewood. The effects of wood-burning stoves in Uganda are detrimental to the population. In fact, Uganda’s National Environment Management Authority predicts that Uganda’s forests will disappear in less than 20 years if the current conditions do not change.

Deforestation creates irregular weather patterns, which can lead to intense droughts and heavy floods during different times of the year. In May 2020, floods affected thousands of people, destroying schools, a hospital, roads and power lines. Irregular weather patterns and storms leave many people without homes, schools to attend and electricity to cook food and conduct other daily activities. This contributes to the issue of poverty in Uganda, as more than 21% of Ugandans live in poverty. The irregular and extreme weather also causes high rates of crop failure in Uganda, which affects farmers who hope to earn money and plant food to feed their families. In the Rwenzori Mountains, floods left soil loose and unfarmable. Since many Ugandans have low incomes and cannot afford many basic necessities, the few crops that they harvest sell for money to pay for schooling for children and other essentials, leaving many people hungry as a result. Additionally, many women in Uganda have respiratory issues due to indoor air pollution from typical wood-burning stoves.

The Solution

After witnessing all the problems that traditional stoves in Uganda were causing, Kyewalyanga was determined to create a solution. He developed a stove using mud, water and straw, all of which are abundant in Uganda. The stove is essentially free to make and easy to build. To make a stove, Kyewalyanga forms the ingredients into small balls and attaches them together around a matooke tree, a common plant in Uganda which is much like a banana tree. As the mud hardens into a chimney, ventilation pockets and combustion chambers, the trunk of the tree rots away, thus forming an oven.

Kyewalyanga’s energy-saving stove reduces the amount of wood needed to cook food by 50%. However, the stove not only helps to reduce the number of trees that people must cut down, but it also provides the population with a sustainable alternative to traditional stoves in Uganda that cause respiratory illnesses and problems among farmers. A woman who cooks for her family of six people described how the smoke-filled walls of her kitchen caused health problems and how she hopes that Kyewalyanga’s stove will help her “get rid of [her] respiratory illness.” Since 2017, Kyewalyanga has created 100 stoves, but he hopes to develop many more in the future to combat deforestation and provide a more healthy lifestyle for the inhabitants of Uganda.

Shveta Shah
Photo: Flickr

Countries with CholeraCholera is a disease of inequity that unduly sickens and kills the poorest and most vulnerable people – those without access to clean water and sanitation.” – Carissa F. Etienne, the Director of Pan American Health Organization.

Profuse vomiting, diarrhea and leg cramps, followed by intense dehydration and shock, are all symptoms of cholera. It is a highly contagious waterborne illness that can cause death within hours if left untreated. Cholera is mainly caused by drinking unsafe water, having poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene, all of which allow the toxigenic bacteria Vibrio Cholerae to infect a person’s intestine.

While cholera can be treated successfully through simple methods, such as replacing the lost fluid from excessive diarrhea, there are still many people around the globe struggling with the disease. There are 2.9 million cases and 95,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The countries that have the greatest risk of a cholera outbreak are the ones that are going through poverty, war and natural disasters. These factors cause poor sanitation and crowded conditions, which help the spread of the disease.

Yemen

Yemen is known for being one of the countries with the most Cholera cases. The number of cholera cases in Yemen has been increasing since January 2018; the cumulative reported cases from January 2018 to January 2020 is 1,262,722, with 1,543 deaths. The number of cases in Yemen marked 1,032,481 as of 2017, which was a sharp increase from the 15,751 cases and 164 deaths in 2016. On a positive note, the numbers showed a decrease by February 19, 2020; 56,220 cases were recorded, with 20 associated deaths.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The DRC is another country with a high number of Cholera cases. There were 30,304 suspected cases of cholera and 514 deaths in 2019. Although the number of 2019 cases was smaller than that of 2017 (56,190 cases and 1,190 deaths), the 2019 data showed an increase from 2018 (27,269 cases and 472 deaths). As of May 13, 2020, 10,533 cases and 147 deaths were reported; most of these reported cases originated from Lualaba regions, Haut Katanga and North and South Kivu.

Somalia

Somalia also stands as one of the countries with the most Cholera cases. From December 2017 to May 30, 2020, there were 13,528 suspected cholera cases and 67 associated deaths in Somalia. These reported cases are from regions of Hiran, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle and Banadir.

Other than the three countries listed above, there are many others that are also going through Cholera outbreaks. Uganda reported a new Cholera outbreak in the Moroto district in May 2020; a month later, 682 cases and 92 deaths have been reported. Burundi also declared a new cholera outbreak this past March; 70 new cases were reported.

Helping Cholera Outbreaks

Many non-profit organizations like UNICEF are constantly working towards helping these countries and many more. A good example of a country that has shown a great decrease in cholera cases following external aid is Haiti.

Haiti experienced the first large-scale outbreak of cholera with over 665,000 cases and 8,183 deaths. After a decade of efforts to fight against cholera, the country recently reported zero new cases of cholera for an entire year. An example of how UNICEF helped Haiti is by supporting the Government’s Plan for Cholera Elimination and focusing on rapid response to diarrhea cases. However, the country still needs to keep effective surveillance systems and remain as a cholera-free country for two more years to get validation from the World Health Organization (WHO) of the successful elimination of the disease.

Alison Choi
Photo: Flickr

Homeless Children in UgandaThe population of children in Uganda is one of the largest in the world. Out of 37 million people, 56% of Ugandans are under 18 and more than 52% are under 15. Unfortunately, a recent report by the Human Rights Watch revealed that the majority of the children in Uganda lack human rights. Advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Watch, find Ugandan children are facing homelessness and violence.

As of 2019, there were an estimated 15,000 orphaned and homeless children aged between 7 and 17 in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. Homelessness in Uganda is largely caused by the conflict in northern Uganda from 1987 to 2006. Other factors, such as domestic abuse and neglect are also responsible for the high numbers of homeless children in Uganda.

Mistreatment

Some Ugandans help the street children; they provide places to sleep and take care of the sick. Unfortunately, others harm homeless children because of the widespread belief that all street children are thieves. Homeless children are commonly verbally abused, kicked, slapped and spat on; however, the violence does not end there.

Interviews with street children reveal that the police are highly abusive. The police beat the children who resist arrest and extortion attempts. Tear gassing, threatening, beating with batons are just a few examples of the violent behaviors of the police.

Interviews

In December of 2013, Human Rights Watch conducted interviews of homeless and previously homeless children in Uganda.

“[The policemen] take money from us. If you do not have money they beat you so much…. Last week on Saturday, the police came in the night and beat me when I was sleeping with three other children. The policeman beat me on the thighs with a rubber whip. He then hit my knees with a baton. He beat me until I gave him 1,000 shillings ($0.40) and left me.”

—Roger P., 13-year-old, living two years on the streets in Lira

“Government should look for a better solution for street children instead of beating and arresting us. The more you beat us the more we get hardened with life and it does not solve the problem. They want us to go back home but some of us do not even have homes. Others do not know where our parents are. So when they beat us to go home, where do you want us to go?”

— Sam L., 15-year-old, lived four years on the streets in Masaka

Progress

Fortunately, there have been many efforts to decrease homelessness in Uganda. This includes a national program that targets orphans and vulnerable children. Motivated individuals and non-governmental groups are also working to end homelessness in Uganda. For example, Child Restoration Outreach (C.R.O.) focuses on bringing street children into families and helping them become self-reliant citizens. C.R.O. provides children food, medical care, clothes, education and counseling. Additionally, C.R.O. works to reconnect homeless children with their family members. In 2019, C.R.O. sponsored 28 students’ schooling and bought ten children laptops.

Street Resource is another organization dedicated to helping homeless Ugandans. Street Resource has been providing shelter for homeless Ugandans since 2017. Merry Ntungyire, the founder of Street Resource, used her own savings to recruit members to the organization. Today, Street Resource provides shelter for 17 people. 17 isn’t a big number, and the shelter only provides a small room with basic amenities; however, the work of Ntungyire and others like her is highly valued by many. Hopefully, more groups like Street Resource and the Child Restoration Outreach will join the fight against homelessness in Uganda.

Alison Choi
Photo: Unsplash

education in uganda
Education has an incredible impact on poverty all over the world. When ways to grow and develop become available, poverty decreases. For education in Uganda, the story is no different. While income inequality, gender disparity and regional issues come between many Ugandans and improving their lives, many have used education to push themselves into brighter futures. Through governmental improvements, private school options, and the sheer desire of the Ugandan people for education, progress is being made.

Public Education

In 1997, Uganda implemented the Universal Primary Education Policy, which waived the fees for any student attending the first seven years of school— primary 1 to primary 7. Attendance remained voluntary, and the parents still needed to provide important supplies for the students and labor to build the schoolhouses. Even so, primary school attendance increased 145% in the first six years after the policy was put in place. The program expanded to include secondary education in 2007. The increase in attendance is a testament to the desire for education in Uganda.

According to Lawrence Bategeka and Nathan Okurut— analysts in Kampala, Uganda— “The UPE programme in Uganda demonstrates that a poor country with a committed government and donor support can fight poverty through ensuring universal access to education for its citizens.” Unfortunately, the UPE had limited impact on poverty. According to John Ekaju, “this ‘UPE centric’ approach ignored the precarious situation of the large number of illiterate children, youths and adults.” He recommends that the policy be reevaluated. He predicts that improved higher education could half the poverty rates.

Secondary and Higher Education

Education in Uganda is incredibly competitive. Rigorous tests after primary school determine secondary education opportunities. Often times, this results in schools choosing the best students in order to “improve their grade average and national standing.”

While attendance has improved in Uganda’s public education, the quality of the actual education has not. Because there are more students than resources, teachers often have 100 children per class and not nearly enough materials or space. With this many students, teachers burn out quickly, and students lack the individualized instruction that has the greatest effect. This means that students who want a good education must turn to expensive private schools.

Private Education

Boarding schools and private schools offer higher quality education to the families who can afford it. These schools often have better teachers who can offer more individualized time with students. While this is a positive alternative for some families, those stuck in poverty are left on the outside.

According to Transforming Uganda, because many families live on less than $2 a day and “typical annual primary school required costs range from $50 to $150 for day schools,” many families cannot feasibly afford to send their children to these schools. According to the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights, the fees that the private schools require are “bound to result in discrimination by keeping more children out of school, particularly those from low income households.”

Though improvement has begun, Uganda’s educational fight is far from over. In order to close the gap, better education and more opportunities need to arise. As the education in Uganda improves, poverty will decrease and more people will feel empowered to take control of their futures.

– Abigail Lawrence
Photo: Flickr

Reaching SustainabilityIn recent years, numerous developing countries are attempting to reach a certain level of sustainability. Countries within Asia, Africa and South America strive to increase urban development in several ways including solar energy use, organic farming and an increase in job opportunities. This will allow numerous countries to improve their economy and living situations. Here are three ways developing countries are reaching sustainability.

Solar Energy

Used in millions of industries, solar energy has the capability to take sunlight from the sun and convert it to useful energy. Several countries are focusing on the implementation of solar energy to reduce carbon emissions and increase sustainability.

While solar energy can be quite expensive, Anzaga is a new technological platform that provides affordable solar systems for citizens within developing nations. Through flexible payment plans, the company has increased the usage of solar energy within 20 countries throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, allowing over one million African citizens to obtain energy. Within the last decade, there has been a vast improvement in solar energy usage. For example, the World Bank approved two projects within Bangladesh, beginning the installation of more than 1.3 million solar home systems.

Between 2006 and 2010, China updated its five-year plan in which a large portion of investments was dedicated to renewable energy and energy efficiency. China hoped to decrease the per-unit GDP energy consumption by roughly 20% in comparison to 2005.

Organic Farming

Numerous developing countries have focused on the use of organic farming to attain their goal of reaching sustainability. There is evidence that organic farming and agriculture yields approximately 80% more than conventional farming. Scientists believe that organic farming is one of the most effective ways for a country to farm sustainably.

Moreover, numerous developing countries have focused on the technique of precision farming. Precision farming is the ability to create large amounts of produce within small-scale farms. Millions of citizens in developing countries practice the technique of precision farming within organic agriculture to potentially increase revenue.

Uganda has transformed certain methods of agriculture and used organic farming to reach sustainability. Uganda currently has the world’s lowest usage of artificial fertilizers and hopes to increase organic produce immensely to boost revenue and its economy.

Job Opportunities

Lastly, the focus on creating unique job opportunities for individuals is one of the ways developing countries are reaching sustainability. Higher employment rates improve not only the livelihood of citizens but the overall economy as well.

New sustainable urban planning is practiced within cities of Brazil. Due to the increase in population, job opportunities increase as new and innovative systems for urban planning are necessary. Specifically, the Bus Rapid Transit system exemplifies dedicated planning. The UN Environment reported that the system “provides an example of integrated urban and industrial planning that enabled the location of new industries and the creation of jobs.”

In India, the government also focused on alleviating poverty sustainably. It created the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in which rural citizens receive enhanced security within marginalized households. Hoping to alleviate poverty within rural areas, the act promotes maintenance and growth of rural areas, while providing jobs for rural citizens.

As numerous countries continue to develop, solar energy, organic farming, and new job opportunities are three of the numerous ways in which development is possible. By investing in development that allows the growth of cities in a manageable, sustainable way, countries are more likely to reach a state of national sustainability.

– Elizabeth Balicanta
Photo: Flickr

Water CrisisDespite recent growth in the economy, Uganda is facing a national water crisis. Almost 24 million people in Uganda do not have access to clean water. On average each person in Uganda uses only about 4.7 gallons of water a day. Communities need clean water sources for drinking, cooking, farming and general personal hygiene. Clean water scarcity creates difficulties for all of these basic needs and negatively impacts the economy.

What Uganda’s Water Crisis Looks Like

Although Uganda experienced three decades of a growing economy, almost 40% of Ugandans still live on less than a dollar a day. In addition to its history of poverty, many people in Uganda struggle to find clean water. Traditionally, communities with high poverty rates rely heavily on natural water sources because they lack the technology to build wells and plumbing. The lack of clean water sources in impoverished communities propels the cycle of poverty.

A video by a global relief organization called Generosity.org documents the lives of Ugandans who struggle to find clean water. The video features a Ugandan mother, Hanna Augustino, who spends three hours a day getting water for her family of nine. Hanna explains that the water is so dirty it has worms and gives them diseases like Typhoid Fever. However, when the family gets sick, they cannot afford to go to the hospital. The lack of clean water in an already impoverished community leads to disease. In 2015 Uganda experienced a Typhoid Fever outbreak that was mainly due to contaminated water sources. For many in these communities, medical care is unaffordable. The water crisis causes a need for medical care for a treatable disease. The need for more medical care creates more financial hardship on families already struggling in poverty.

Economic Impacts

In addition to disease, collecting water is very time-consuming. In some areas like Hanna’s, it can take hours to retrieve water.  People spend hours getting water instead of working to provide income for their families or as caregivers themselves. Water retrieval is another aspect of the water crisis that negatively impacts local economies and continues the cycle of poverty.

Farmers are some of the most negatively impacted by the water crisis. Farming and agriculture make up a large part of the Ugandan economy. Poverty-stricken communities need water sources for irrigation and farming, which some families rely on as a household income. About 24% of Uganda’s GDP comes from agriculture. This portion of the economy is dependent on clean, accessible water sources. Without clean water sources, farmers’ animals and crops would die. Without farmers, local communities would have no food. As a result, farmers are an important local resource for local communities and an important cog in local economies.

 A Helping Hand

Despite the rippling effects of the water crisis, there are many organizations working to alleviate the crisis. For instance, Lifewater is an organization that funds “water projects.” These projects build clean water sources for villages that have none. Lifewater is currently funding 220 water projects in Uganda alone.  If you are interested in learning more about Lifewater, you can go to their website at Lifewater.org.

Lifewater is one of many organizations working to provide villages in Uganda with clean water. Along with being essential to human life, water can affect many different aspects of daily life. Spending hours fetching water or drinking dirty, disease-ridden water can negatively impact the local economy. Any negative impact on the economy is especially devastating for communities already affected by poverty. Like Lifewater, there are many organizations bettering local economies through their clean water efforts.

Kaitlyn Gilbert
Photo: Flickr