For the past several years, our newest partner in Uganda, Bega kwa Bega (BkB) has been working to protect springs in rural portions of the country, but due to lack of sufficient funding, they have only been able to protect about 10 springs each year, when the need is far greater.
Bread and Water for Africa® is taking on the mission to partner with BkB to provide funding for 25 spring water protection sites this year and to continue that number at a rate of two or three per month for at least the next five years – 125 sites!
BkB is planning on protecting springs in six districts: Wakiso, Gomba, Butamblala, Mpigi, Mukono and Mubende with each site to serve about 50 families, representing an estimated 250 children, parents and elders – providing access to safe clean drinking water for up to 6,250 Uganda children, parents and elders where at present there is none.
“The water is unhygienic because it is easily contaminated by urine and human waste, garbage and other materials,” reported Bega kwa Bega (BkB) (Shoulder to Shoulder) manager David Ssagala, Bread and Water for Africa® newest partner in the country.
In the central and western region of Uganda where BkB works, there are more than 200 villages where many residents risk illness, even death, drinking from these unprotected, polluted springs.
According to the World Health Organization, lack of clean water results in 115 deaths EVERY HOUR in sub-Saharan African countries such as Uganda.
Bacteria, viruses, parasites and pollution contaminate freshwater sources resulting in water scarcity which is a major problem even in areas where there is plenty of rainfall. A lack of clean water increases the risk of diarrheal diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery, and other water-borne diseases.
“Water scarcity affects one in three people in the African Region and is getting worse with population growth, urbanization and increases in household and industrial uses,” states the WHO.
But it does not have to be that way, and that’s why a few years ago BkB developed a program to protect the springs from contamination by constructing a concrete water filtration system.
“Before the protection of the spring, community members used such water for all their home consumption,” explained David.
Among those who are benefiting today by a water protection project completed by BkB last year is 9-year-old Lydia who until a few months ago spent her days walking miles back and forth from an unprotected water source carrying a 5-gallon container on her head weighing about 40 pounds when she should have been in school.
Through BkB’s water spring protection project program, Lydia’s family, and dozens of others living nearby, now have a steady source of water nearby and do not need to wander far and wide to collect it from open, unprotected sources, according to David.
“The women and girls now do not have to walk long distances in search of safe water, thus minimizing the risks associated with long journeys,” he told us.
According to UNICEF, “collecting water is often a colossal waste of time for women and girls,” estimating that around the world they spend 200 million hours a day fetching water.
The United Nations estimates that in sub-Saharan African countries like Uganda, nearly 40 percent in rural areas improved drinking water sources are more than 30 minutes away. In some instances, girls can spend up to eight hours, round trip, every day to collect water for themselves and their families.
In addition, for girls such as Lydia who daily carry a significant percentage of their body weight in a container on their head, there is a significant risk on musculoskeletal disorders and related disabilities.
“The beneficiaries are always grateful because through spring protection, they are able to access safe and clean water – unlike before protection when they used to have to share these water sources with animals,” says David. “These water sources are used by many households, schools, health centers, churches, mosques and also for income generation.”
The cost to protect a single spring is $1,000, a small price to pay to provide 50 families with safe drinking water, amounting to about $83 a month for one year. Once completed, the life span of each protected spring is between 20 and 30 years.
And with the help of our generous and loyal supporters, in 2020 we will meet our goal of raising $30,000 to provide safe drinking water for 30 villages that will benefit thousands for years to come.
As one can see in our 2019 Annual Report, thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® we were able to accomplish much in the past year. This includes providing loving homes for hundreds of orphaned and abandoned children in Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and educations for thousands more.
This past year, we have made fresh, safe and clean drinking water available for thousands by digging wells in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, sparing them the risk of serious illness, or even death, from drinking from contaminated sources.
In Ethiopia, Cameroon and Sierra Leone, our medical services program has provided medical equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics which treated more than 100,000 patients alone in the last year. 2019 also marked a milestone for Bread and Water for Africa® upon the completion of a hospital in Cameroon operated by our partner there, Hope Services.
None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the generosity of our compassionate supporters. We have equally big plans projected for 2020 and we hope you will join with us as we continue our mission of improving the lives of thousands of Africans, especially children, every year.
Education is one of the primary areas of Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Bega kwa Bega (BkB) work in Uganda.
One of the important education projects that BkB does is to provide textbooks and reading materials to schools in remote areas of the country.
“During 2018 and 2019 this was done in collaboration with two other organizations – Bread and Water for Africa® and Books for Africa,” stated BkB founder and director Conche McGarr who founded the organization in 1998.
Bega kwa Bega means “Shoulder to Shoulder in Kiswahili, and that is exactly what Bread and Water for Africa®, BkB and BFA have been doing for the past two years providing more than 22,000 books to 177 schools benefiting 54,878 students and 2,297 teachers – and that is in 2019 alone.
The way our partnership works is that BFA collected the books ordered by BkB, sorted them by category, packaged them and placed the books into a 40-foot sea-container. They also arranged all the shipping and government documents to get the books to Uganda.
Thanks to our supporters, Bread and Water for Africa® assumes the cost of actually shipping the books where they are received by BkB for distribution to the schools.
But BkB does more than simply give out books, the organization conducts periodic free Teacher Development Workshops where teachers from the rural schools attend and attend workshops and provided instructions on how to use the books and include them in their lesson plans.
During the four-day workshop in August, registration was limited to 100 trainees, but demand was so great that it was increased to more than 110 teachers who received training in topics including child development, how children learn, daily writing activities for students, effective teaching methods, math, and more.
Upon “graduation,” each teacher received a certificate of completion, at least two boxes containing hundreds of books and an assortment of teaching supplies.
“Thank you so much, this project could not have been done without your help and support,” said Conche. “Special thanks to the management, staff and supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, Books for Africa and Bega kwa Bega for their help and consideration.”
At the Lerato Children’s Home in Zimbabwe, schoolchildren do their homework in the evenings by the light of kerosene lamps which are widely used for lighting in rural areas of Africa where there is no electricity.
Not only does the low light damage the children’s eyes, but exposure to the kerosene fumes can cause toxicity if inhaled and may cause respiratory irritation, as well as being irritating to the eyes and skin, according to the World Health Organization.
In fact, acute and chronic exposure to kerosene may result in CNS effects including drowsiness, convulsions, coma, and even death, according to the WHO.
Kerosene is also an extremely volatile, flammable liquid that can quickly cause an out-of-control fire if a burning lantern is knocked off a table.
The orphaned and abandoned children and youth ages 3 to 18 who have been living at Lerato since it was founded in 2016 know how fortunate they are to have found a loving home operated by long-time Bread and Water for Africa® partner Margaret Makambira, executive director of the Shinga Development Trust.
At Lerato they have the basic necessities of life to be healthy and thrive, and are grateful to have the opportunity to go to school.
In the evenings after they have eaten their dinner by the light of a kerosene lantern, there is nothing more these dedicated students want to do is to be able to study and read – but under the dim light their young eyes are easily strained.
Zimbabwe is currently facing its worst economic crisis in 10 years. According to the International Monetary Fund, Zimbabwe’s annual inflation rate from August 2018 through August 2019 was at 300 percent, the highest in the world.
This summer, Zimbabwe experienced what has been described as “an economic and social meltdown” with the Zimbabwean dollar in freefall and the Reserve Bank printing excessive amounts of money. Meanwhile, there are acute shortages of water, fuel, and electricity across the country where power cuts of up to 18 hours a day have destroyed daily life and what little is left of manufacturing. Residents and businesses are experiencing 18-hour blackouts daily, and Lerato is no exception
So what’s the solution? Solar panels on the roof of the children’s home, says Margaret.
Even the Zimbabwean government is seeing the light after earlier this year removing barriers to solar energy expansion by removing import duties on solar-energy related products – and even mandating that all new construction in the country include solar systems to address power shortages such as what is happening there today.
After partnering with Shinga to construct the Lerato Children’s Home, Margaret turned once again to Bread and Water for Africa® for help in having solar panels installed on the roof of the building ensuring that the children there would have plenty of bright light in the evening to do their homework, instead of straining their eyes to read and do their homework.
The cost is $2,700, a large amount of money in the impoverished country where inflation is rampant, but a small sum when considered what it will purchase – free unlimited electricity for the children at the Lerato Children’s Home.
Our goal is to raise these funds by the end of the month and we are asking you today to contribute what you can – it’s past time for the children of Lerato to be studying by the light of the 21st century, not the 19th century.