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The Africa Trust – Update September 2011

The Africa Trust was founded by AquAid to achieve sustainable solutions to poverty. Every time you order a water cooler or water from AquAid a percentage of the revenue is donated to The Africa Trust.

 Elephant Pumps provide Clean Water for Drinking and Water for Agriculture

This month, work has continued on the Elephant Pump programme in Zimbabwe with new pumps being built and additional work being done to increase the impact of the existing pumps. Over 5,000 pumps are managed by The Africa Trust, which provide clean and productive water in communities across the country. Business skills training for people who already use Elephant Pumps has helped them to use excess water to establish new agricultural projects such as growing baby marrows, sweet-corn, beetroots, carrots, wheat and livestock projects such as dairy cattle, chickens and pigs. A brick making project has also been established which uses large volumes of water from one Elephant Pump.

A process of carbon accreditation has been commenced which is expected to take around 12-18 months. If successful, this will allow The Africa Trust to sell carbon credits every year relating to the existing pumps and any new pumps that are built to provide a fund for pump maintenance. The basis for this is that these pumps do not use fuel to lift water and the self-filtering design of the wells means that there is no need for water to be boiled thereby reducing the burning of firewood. A precedent exists since IDE (International Development Enterprises) secured carbon accreditation for their pumps inIndiaandBangladesh. A further funding stream is being explored for advertising on pumps, preferably for products that relate to health and agriculture. We are looking for a large company that sells products inZimbabweand would be interested in advertising on rural pumps for PR and marketing reasons. These funds will help in the training and support of pump minders for all the existing pumps.

The increase of livestock projects in one district of Zimbabwe over the last few months led to The Africa Trust agreeing to help fund construction of a high quality butchery to provide a reliable market for rural farmers and a route to the larger markets of local cities which they are unable to access directly. This butchery has already secured contracts to provide meat to various businesses and retail outlets in Mutare, so there is now a need for further investment in the production base. Similarly, with the increase in dairy cattle funded by The Africa Trust, work has commenced to develop a local dairy with the capacity to pasteurize milk and produce yoghurt and soft cheese. There are plans for a mobile ice-cream maker to be funded as an additional business, which would provide ice-creams for retail and at large events.

A new clean water initiative is now being planned in Tanzania where a pipeline is to be extended to provide thousands of villagers with clean water for drinking and domestic use. The gravity fed pipeline was established by the chief executive of The Africa Trust with funding from friends in The States, in an area where the water table is too deep for the use of Elephant Pumps. He surveyed a route from a source of clean water at the top of a hill and conservatively arranged for a dozen standpipes with taps to provide clean water in a nearby village. It is now clear that the water supply is adequate for an extension of this pipeline to double the number of people who can benefit. The pipeline replaces an expensive arrangement where villagers were paying around six US dollars per month per family to buy water by the bucket. The new arrangement will reduce the amount they pay to one dollar a month, which pays for maintenance of the pipeline and taps. We are also planning to ask for a two dollar a month contribution to a development fund for the village, which will provide loans and grants for small businesses.

Where there is clean water, decent sanitation is also needed and work continues with the aim of eradicating open defecation in the communities where The Africa Trust is operating. The Elephant Toilet is being used as with adaptations to the design according to what works best and is accepted in that community. The concept that urine can safely be used to make enriched compost is being widely accepted. A number of approaches to hand-washing have been used, including a soap plant and ashes from the family cooking fire which also have a sterilizing effect. Elephant Toilets are also eligible for carbon accreditation due to the reduced cement use and the programme for a fruit tree to be planted whenever a pit fills up. There are challenges in the widespread introduction of Elephant Toilets in Zimbabwe, just as there were when the Elephant Pump programme was launched. The main obstacle is that NGOs and government authorities have settled on a much more expensive design for rural pit latrines which uses eight bags of cement instead on one bag. We are trying to show that the same money can go much further if a cheaper and more sustainable design of toilet is used. The need is even greater in Malawi, where open defecation is the norm in many remote rural villages.

Paying for School fees with Bananas

The first harvest of bananas for this project is due to take place soon and despite various challenges along the way, this project is expected to deliver according to expectations paying for 500 students to remain in school. An unusually cold snap did result in some losses in the plantations that are less sheltered and issues around the quality of fencing also resulted in some losses and in a need for additional investment. These experiences have helped to inform plans for a scale up of this programme in the second season and have also led The Africa Trust to rent a piece of land to establish an independent plantation in order to generate income to help fund projects in the local communities. This plantation is expected to become profitable by the second harvest. The level of investment needed in terms of irrigation infrastructure is now known, so it is easier to make accurate predictions related to revenue.

 Uganda

Livingstone Mukasa has continued to make excellent progress for The Africa Trust in Uganda with the business skills training programme. A number of case-studies from Uganda and Zimbabwe will be loaded onto the website in the coming months to show how this training can be transformational. Fourteen training courses were held inUgandaover the last quarter alone with a total of 600 people trained. Successful businesses which have resulted from this training include: a laundry business, brick-making, milk selling, egg-plant growing and a bridal business. A mushroom growing project has been started with some success, but the attempted solar project did not prove viable. Additional funding ($9,000) was secured by Livingstone to commence a Village Savings and Loans Association scheme ahead of planned investment by The Africa Trust which is expected to help build the total number of VSLA groups. A similar scheme is currently being considered for Zimbabwe which would allow villagers access to small loans at a better rate of interest than is currently available.

 AquAid and the Africa Trust

The Africa Trust was established by AquAid Water Coolers. AquAid are one of the UK’s leading water cooler suppliers and pride themselves in their relationships with both The Africa Trust and Christian Aid. With every water cooler product ordered from AquAid a percentage of the revenue is donated to The Africa Trust and is used to provide sustainable solutions to poverty. In August 2011 £61,909.55 was donated to the Trust making that a total donation to date of £588637.10.