I'm on holiday in beautiful, coastal Cornwall right now
, surrounded by fishing villages and beaches - and rain! I'm working on the Uhundha project
, assisting a fishing community on the shores of Lake Victoria.
I've spent the morning at the holiday cottage
of one of our main donors, reading through several emails from members of the project group, who, dotted around the world have been collaborating in Australia; gathering information, technical specs for aquaculture
and sharing their accumulated knowledge from years of studying sustainable development - in California; details of zero-emission algae-ethanol-electricity production
- in Uhundha itself (normally California) gathering donations from friends to buy small things like trash bins to aid sustainability, and much more.
AVIF will be using various donations to fund a part-time salary, more like pocket money in western terms, for a member of the community, to be chosen by Anu and Charles Adero, Ambassador to the community. Charles grew up in the village and has a home there which he kindly gives up to our volunteers to stay in, for free, whenever needed, an investment he understands is for the good of the community. Charles and wife Priscah live and work, with their family, in Nairobi.
The project "facilitator" will be in charge of educating themselves via the articles and links to technical research documents we've been passed by 2008 volunteer, Ben; on tilapia, aquaculture technical specifics, sustainable pump technology
to utilise the lakes resources sustainably. The project is meshing together so beautifully - and naturally - its truly a work of art.
One aspect of the project was initiated in 2008 by Katalin & Ben, but stalled at the planning stage, we're stoking the fire!
The second aspect is an algae-ethanol production unit, put together by Californian company TerraEndeavors
. CEO Charles Abramson, who I had the pleasure of meeting with last April at Nairobi's WWF Nature Challenge, where TerraEndeavors won 2nd prize, has now gained support from Stanford university's Design for Extreme Affordability
department. The project will require water pumping which the class could potentially work on. Aquaculture also fits very well with the other technologies in the project. The algae which will be grown & processed into ethanol, for example, can also be a key source of tilapia feed. The fish, once harvested and cleaned locally, leave highly-lipid remains which greatly improve the productivity of any biodigester systems put in place to produce power. ALL THIS will provide employment for the community and vast sustainable technology skills.
The water pumping mechanism will also cater for the community need to irrigate shambas (agricultural fields) which are often hand watered - a daily struggle and time-loss for villagers. Ben and Katalin's original ideas to reduce the local pollution in the Lake by establishing communal washing areas for the village and safe treated drinking water tanks can also be put into action.
Currently villagers use the lake for washing and bathing and often pick up diseases like bilharzia
. Anupma has already instigated health and hygiene programs in the orphanages and schools, with trash collection to aid in composting the community gardens, planted with help from the Lakeland Youth group and the local children. Read more here in Anu's blog
As Ben rightly suggests: "One way this could work could be to form a co-operative where profits are re-invested back into the community via a social entrepreneurship - however like all ventures they will require a good business plan and proper capital investment and of course acceptance and ownership by the community."
Ben also sent published scientific papers on the subject.
All this from "just" volunteering !!