Six MBA students travelled to Uganda during September 2012 as part of the Social Entrepreneurship module. In partnership with a local Charity, St. Francis Health Care Services, we piloted a simple water purification device called the LifeStraw family.
St. Francis Health Care Services is an HIV/AIDS non-government organization established in 1998. Its main purpose is to respond to the growing challenges of HIV/AIDS epidemic through sensitization and awareness, provision of medical care and psycho-socio support to people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS in Uganda. Access to clean drinking water is key to prolonging the lifespan of AIDS patients. St Francis serves a number of communities in the local area of Jinja including the village of Ntinkalu where we piloted the devices.
Ntinkalu is a very rural community with thatched houses, no electricity and no potable water.
The target group was 45 Grandmothers (Jajjas) who were left with the responsibility of raising their grandchildren after the death of most of their children from AIDS. They are older women who earn very little income from seasonal wages. St. Francis works with them to develop their income earning capacity and offers free treatment to the grandchildren living with HIV.
Water is readily accessible in the community from Lake Victoria, swamps, mudumus (springs) and borehole pumps but all these water sources are contaminated (see water quality results below). The Jajjas are unable to afford clean drinking water for their families and faced with limited options they consume contaminated water. As a result they are often sick from preventable diseases which lead to time and money spent on hospital visits and time lost from earning income and learning in school.
Water Quality Results
We introduced the LifeStraw Family devices to all the Jajjas and conducted training for the installation, use and cleaning of the device. Devices were installed in the homes of eight Jajjas where we monitored and evaluated their use and clean water consumption. We also conducted education and health awareness sessions in the community around behavioural changes. At the end of the project we presented to the Jajjas and St. Francis Health Care Services the results of our study and recommendations on how to make the project sustainable.
Ntinkalu now has eight Jajjas who are trained to use the device and are trained to train others how to use it. We discussed with them sustainable funding models so that all the Jajjas and the wider community can afford and have access to the devices. We are still working with the community through fundraising efforts and through networking them to local water-NGOs to develop more long term sustainable water projects.
Rain water Harvesting
Six years earlier a project was started in Ntinkalu to implement rainwater harvesting from the roof of one of the community schools, but this was not completed due to lack of funds. Money was invested in water tanks but they were not being used, as the guttering had not been installed on the roof. Seeing this need and the simple solution we purchased and installed the necessary guttering giving the community access to additional 20,000 litres of rain water. A small investment resurrected the original project with a huge Return on Investment (ROI).
With a background in Social development I was searching for a MBA programme that will expose me to business models and practices suitable for social development businesses. The Social Entrepreneurship module was of particular interest to me as it was the only module that offered practical hands on experience where we moved out of the classroom and into a ‘real’ community with ‘real’ needs.
Nothing in a classroom could have adequately prepared us to deal with the complexity and uncertainty that we faced. We had to be flexible to adapt quickly in order to make the best of a challenging situation and to leave a lasting positive impact in the community.
As a young woman I left Uganda feeling empowered from my interaction with the Jajjas who in spite of their living conditions were always smiling. In my opinion they are very Strong, Resilient and Resourceful women!!!
written by Dimsoy Cruickshank, Present MBA Student