Thursday, December 3, 2009

improving health & sustaining local livelihoods

Meet Godfrey Mulumba, a 30-year-old rural artisan representing a nine member pottery cooperative in nearby Kamuli District. UVP speaks with Godfrey about his background and profession, his previous experience with the pottery business, and the impact of a partnership with UVP's Modified Clay Pot (Mod-Pot) Project on his income and livelihood.

UVP: How did you get started working as a potter?

Godfrey: My great grandfather started producing traditional clay pots in the 1930s. Knowledge was passed down to my father and he taught me how to make clay pots. I started making clay pots at 12 years of age and I am now teaching my son, Ronald, who is 10 years old.

UVP: Has the pottery business changed since when your father started making pots?

Godfrey: When I started making clay pots with my father, we made enough money through sales in surrounding rural areas. Since then, things like firewood costs have increased and there is no longer consistent demand for clay pots from nearby rural villages and towns. With more people moving to cities, we started to sell in cities but high transport costs, competition from other potters, and the difficulty working with middlemen limit what we can sell. Our group resorted to moving our products into towns on bicycles but, whenever we cannot find buyers, we are forced sell our pots at a loss or transport them back to our village.

UVP: Why did you enroll in UVP's Modified Clay Pot Project and how has it impacted your business?

Godfrey: I was approached with the idea of making clay pots with taps for safer drinking water and discussed it with the members of my local pottery cooperative. After making samples for UVP, my group produced 100 modified clay pots as our first order for UVP. The Mod-Pots I make for UVP are guaranteed to be sold because I get paid in advance, and I don't need to worry about finding customers or transporting the products to where they are wanted. This gives me more time to focus on producing pots. For every modified clay pot I make, I get 50% more money than from molding a traditional clay pot. I have appreciated the new sense of security and income; producing Mod-Pots for UVP will help pay for my three children's' school costs and help expand my business.

UVP's Mod-Pot project targets elimination of common hand contamination of household stored drinking water through hygiene education and sale of subsidized modified clay pots to rural communities. The demand for ceramic products, however, also sustains the livelihoods of local artisans who supply the Mod-Pots to UVP. Over the next 12 months, UVP will connect over 20 artisans and their products to new markets thereby opening up opportunities for higher income generation.

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