One of the most important aspects of development work is not the introduction of a new technology or a progressive concept to a community in need, but the regular follow-up of methods to ensure progress and a sustainable outcome. I am currently working with SCI and collaborating partners in Uganda and Tanzania to implement follow-up workshops on safe water and solar integrated cooking.
In Uganda this September, together with Solar Connect Association (SCA), I will drive the 15 hours north on bumpy, dusty roads, past the Nile River and back to the tiny village of Obia on the border of Congo, where SCI worked with Mary Lou and 13-year old Max Ozimek last summer to develop the first solar integrated cooking workshop in this area. During the initial training, in addition to teaching the 36 participants how to use and make solar cookers, hay baskets and fuel-efficient stoves, we also gathered water samples from six major water sources, tested the water with the Portable Microbiology Laboratory (PML) and presented our results to the class during the 4-day workshop. As you can imagine, most of the water sources showed a high enough level of contamination of E.coli to warrant the use of solar water pasteurization ~ an essential component of the workshop’s curriculum using a CooKit and a Water Pasteurization Indicator (WAPI). The exciting part is that, in the months following the workshop last summer, the participants got together and created the Obia Solar Cooking Group (OBSG), taking their own initiative to train others in the community how to build solar cookers and use them to cook food and pasteurize water. This follow-up workshop in September will capitalize on the skills this group has mastered; brush up on any procedures or concepts that need work, and brainstorm ways to make the OSCG successful, independent and sustainable for the future.
In Tanzania, a similar follow-up workshop will take place in the northern village of Musoma, located on the shores of Lake Victoria. I am working together with SCI, Global Resource Alliance (GRA) and TanzSolar in Musoma to provide a refresher course to the 35 men and women who participated in the initial solar integrated cooking and safe water workshop that took place in January of this year. The three organizations will work to ensure that the original participants are proficient at making solar cookers, painting pots with locally-found blackboard paint, using and promoting simple solar lanterns, organizing outreach workshops, developing income-generating activities and creating community-appropriate methods for sustainability. The advantage of having two locally-based, community-minded organizations located in Musoma allows SCI the ability to collaboratively support the participants as they work towards promoting solar integrated cooking and water pasteurization in the area.
The difference between try & triumph is just a little umph! ~ Marvin Phillips