For a long time, projects have suffered permanent death at end of funding to an extent of reversing impact previously created by the same project. In most cases communities have no access to project resources considering project initiatives to be gifts from the wealthy thereby worrying less about sustainability. Not so many project outputs can be traced 5 years after closure. Traceable outputs like water sources, buildings, roads are in most cases in a sorry state with barely anyone responsible. Living Earth Uganda (LEU) had this in mind when designing the Improved Livelihoods in Slums Public Private Partnerships (also known as waste to wealth) project. The project whose overall objective is to reduce the prevalence of poverty in the context of sustainable development and so contribute to the achievement of MDG 1 in reducing poverty by 50% by 2015 and MDG 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability), namely to achieve a significant improvement in the lives of slum dwellers by 2020 ends this year 2013. Specifically the project aims at improving environmental sanitation services in 3 poor urban communities of Rubaga and Kawempe division in Kampala as well as Nansana town council through public private partnerships involving local authorities and pro-poor social enterprises.
To keep the project alive even after closure, LEU put in place an Information Hub where all project materials right from inception are collected, then handed over to the community. The materials include project reports, functional skills training sample products like charcoal briquettes, energy saving stoves, fireless cookers, crafts, Information Education and communication (IEC) materials, albums, videos and music. The information hub is something one can relate to a museum or library where the public comes to access useful information on a particular subject. The hub is also equipped with computers having internet connection and a photocopying machine.
The rationale behind the Hub is that project beneficiaries, stakeholders and public will easily access relevant information on Sustainable solid waste management for use during their own activities. The Hub is conveniently housed at Lubaga Division headquarters, a major player in battling inadequate solid waste management in slum areas.
Abdu Ssekamanya of Kamukamu Group in Kalerewe says he has mobilized 15 youth to implement a sanitation project in their area and that the Information hub will act their guide. In 2010 Abdu received training from LEU in Plastic waste and sorting together with 49 individuals in the project areas. Following the training LEU linked up collectors with recycling plants that buy plastic waste. Abdu jumped into business from which he has managed to open up a laundry enterprise, a grocery store, and bought a piece of land in Kawanda where he built a 2 roomed modern house. Abdu says the Business development training programme that was done by Living Earth Uganda has enabled him to become a better business manager and has made him more focused on his business goal.
Today Abdu lives happily in his new home with his family. “I am now living a descent life. I can afford to take my children to a good school and save for the future” proudly laments Abdu. He employs 15 youth to collect an average of a tone of plastic waste per month from which he earns up to 620,500/=.
Abdu is just one of the many beneficiaries looking to the Information Hub as an asset to amass wealth from derivative recycling and reuse of waste. The Hub could be a model for existing organizations working to keep projects in the communities even after they are gone. We hope that the intended project outputs will continue and probably replicate to other areas in Kampala and Uganda where the project has not been implemented. And like the saying goes Information is power, get empowered by accessing the information hub. You could be the next person to enjoy benefits of improving environmental conditions of your area.
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