We are working on lots: conservation, education, job creation, sustainable agriculture and more!
THE BUBUGO RIVERBANK READING ROOM
The Riverbank Reading Room (RRR) is improving access to information for agriculture and entertainment by boosting literacy and educational levels. There is a low level of primary school attendance of local children due to long distances to walk and cost of school. The RRR is a free public library where the young and old of Bubugo can come to read. The RRR opened in March 2015, with a collection of book donations from the International School of Uganda, and monthly reports since have shown that it is well-used. A request from the local community for its further development demonstrates proof of a successful concept. The RRR has depended on a number of donations- it has a range of children’s and adult reading books, as well as some school curriculum textbooks. The RRR has a simple solar light system which is used for evening school revision. Currently we are looking for support to expand the lighting so that more students can revise in the evenings. We are also looking to collect more copies of Uganda school curriculum textbooks. Over the next year we hope to continue our women’s literacy classes and build up the current affairs, agriculture, environment and other livelihood information available in the library.
The RRR is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday afternoons from 4-10pm.
BUBUGO RIVERBANK CONSERVANCY
Riverbanks in Uganda are protected areas, and it is the responsibility of adjacent communities to sustainably use this resource. However, degradation of the riverbank due to firewood collection and cultivation is severe. As a result, soil erosion from the riverbank is high, turning the river brown after heavy rains, while the disappearance of natural forest vegetation has reduced local bird, fish and mammal populations. Jenny and Charlie have worked hard to protect the riverbank area in front of their plot, preventing firewood collection, cultivation and grazing. Natural regeneration of the bank has been fast, and as a result soil erosion on this part of the riverbank has been considerably reduced. This now serves as a positive example of the attraction of a riverbank in good condition. The Bubugo Riverbank Conservancy is working to bring together multiple managers and users of the riverbank and islands in the Nile around Bubugo. Currently the Trust is in discussion with the National Environment Management Authority, the National Forest Authority, the local community, businesses, private land owners and community leaders. The objective is to get people working together to achieve the common goal of protecting the riverbank for the future. This restoration strategy includes community-lead planting of indigenous trees on the riverbank, riverbank beekeeping for alternative income, and sensitisation and support to riverbank land owners to ensure compliance with environmental laws.
BUBUGO TREE NURSERY
The Bubugo Tree Nursery is being established to provide locally available, high quality tree seedlings. Samuel, the nursery manager, has been trained in nursery management with support from the National Forestry Authority. The nursery is run as a social enterprise selling quality timber seedlings, fruit trees and indigenous trees, and supports riverbank tree planting efforts. As well as selling seedlings, the nursery provides information on the benefits and value of different trees (e.g. medicinal values, soil improvement), and tree and forest management (e.g. thinning, pruning, harvesting of products).
Agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for the Bubugo community. Large population growth and decreasing size of household land holdings is resulting in reduced crop yield, soil fertility and incomes. Furthermore there is a lack of access to information on improved modern agricultural techniques. Jenny and Charlie are developing a demonstration farm showcasing new sustainable land management ideas which can be taken up easily by local farmers. We hope to further expand this work to include training held in the reading room, and to work with other local organisations to support improved and sustainable agricultural land management practices. Currently the demonstration farm is trialling new crop types including herbs, cashew and macadamia nuts, the use of irrigation, and new livestock systems for goats and pigs.
Locally there is high dependence on firewood for cooking and energy needs. We have observed firewood collection as a major cause of riverbank degradation. The lack of community woodlots, disappearing forest cover and increasing population is a major concern to households. As a result we are exploring ideas to trial and develop sustainable fuel sources.
SUPPORTING LOCAL SCHOOLS AND CHILDREN
There are a large number of local schools in the community- they all have huge needs! We donate surplus books from the RRR to local schools and try to support and help where the needs are greatest. Some of our volunteers have worked teaching special classes in these schools. There are a number of albino children and adults in Bubugo and surrounding areas for whom we collect regular donations of suncream, hats and long-sleeved shirts from departing expatriates from Kampala. We are working in collaboration with a local parents group and Uganda Society for Disabled Children to develop a strategic plan for supporting the needs of local disabled children.