Friday, December 17, 2010

Matching Grant for $1000!

Hello friends and supporters!

If you would like to make a donation to support Uganda Village Project's programs for the coming year, now is a great time to do so. For a limited time, Razoo is offering a match of up to $1000 for each fundraising team from a charity.

Several of our trustees and board members have stepped up to the plate and created a team fundraiser. 5 of them must raise at least $200 each for us to get the matching funds. Excitingly for us, we have nearly reached that total, and we are moving up the Razoo Leaderboard (#15 of 57 as I write this!). Can you help us get the matching grant? We've got until the last day of December to reach $1000.

Cameron's Page: Bringing Healthcare to Iganga District
Stephanie's Page: This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Health
Melanie's Page: Give the Gift of Health This Christmas

Thank you and hope you are enjoying the holiday season.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Celebrating Student Success!

This is the end of the third and final term for all of the schools and so students are beginning to trickle into the UVP office with their report cards and their thank you notes for their sponsors. Stella came in on Monday, shy smile on her face and requisite papers in her hand. And what was written on those papers?

She scored 24 out of a possible 25 points!

Gushing was necessary, but the good news didn’t stop at her 24 points. The headmaster of her school also recognized what a stellar student our Stella is and awarded her a tuition scholarship for the first term of her final school year next year!

Days like these I’m filled with pride that is befitting the “auntie” moniker many of our scholarship students have bestowed upon me. Days like these I am filled with pride at what our students are able to accomplish when their minds are free from worry about school fees and can concentrate, instead, on studying.

Donations do make a difference and they can change the course of lives. Thank you for helping UVP help Stella.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Summer Internships for 2011

Would you like to spend the summer making a lasting impact on community health and development in rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa? Have you always wanted to experience and learn about the culture of East Africa? If so, please consider applying to Uganda Village Project's summer program.

Uganda Village Project is now accepting applications for its 2011 Summer Internship Program.

Our Mission: Uganda Village Project is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that collaborates with diverse partners on the design of sustainable rural health and development solutions through networking, advocacy and project innovation in the Iganga District, a rural area in eastern Uganda.

Interns will spend 8 weeks living and working in a village in rural Iganga District, Uganda, gaining experience in community education and public health while organizing education programs in the villages, assisting in planning and implementing health care and development oriented programs, and working in partnership with local NGOs and community groups which focus on issues such as sanitation, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, orphan and widow support, and reproductive health.

Applications are due January 31, 2011.

Visit the UVP website to learn more about our programs:
Click here to visit our Summer Internship Center!

Applications are open to all adults ages 18 and over with an interest in medicine, public health, global health or international development. Applicants with previous experience in these areas, with previous experience working in the developing world will be given special consideration. Visit our website and apply today!

For more information, please contact

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Jigger invasion of Busoga Region

By Alanta Colley

In the past couple of months, the jigger infestation of the Busoga region has been a lead story in the Ugandan media and is now on the lips of many Ugandan politicians, policy makers, and health workers.

While jiggers themselves are not fatal, infestations can result in anaemia or secondary infections such as tetanus, gangrene, septic ulcers and others. Most of the time the site of the jigger bite will heal without complications, particularly if the jigger is removed in a timely manner, however several recent deaths in the Busoga region attributed to jigger related infections have highlighted the severity of the situation.

What is a jigger?

A jigger is a blood sucking sand flea that lives in warm and dusty environments. Both male and female jiggers feed on warm-blooded hosts from time to time, including pigs, goats, chickens, dogs, cats, and humans. The female however likes to burrow beneath toenails, fingernails, or into skin creases of animals and create a lesion where she feeds and lays her eggs.

In the early stages a small, black dot can be seen on the skin, which is the back half of the female jigger; her head buried in the skin. As the flea feeds the black dot increases in size up to a centimeter wide. She lays between 100-200 eggs which are pushed out by the flea and rest and incubate in exposed dirt and sand. After laying her eggs the female flea dies still buried in the skin. Incubated in the dirt, the eggs take 3-4 days to hatch and then 3-4 weeks to reach pupal stage where they will too seek hosts.

What has caused the jigger infestation?

There is no simple answer for why jiggers have come to plague the Busoga region so severely. While a social analyst might tell you ‘poverty’, a public health specialist might tell you ‘hygiene’. A teacher might tell you ‘poor education’, and a veterinarian might tell you ‘climate’, while a scholar might tell you ‘culture’. All the elements seem to have played a part.

The warm dusty environment of the Busoga region has certainly proved amenable to the breeding requirements of the jigger. More than this, exposed dirt floors, walls and compounds common among many village homes in Uganda mean that jigger eggs can incubate even inside the home. Many rural families keep their chickens and goats inside at night, and other animals such as cows very close to the house as a security measure. The close proximity of animals enables the transmission of jigger eggs from animal to human to happen with ease.

Going barefoot, as many young children are, increases vulnerability to jigger attacks. Many children attend dirt floor schools barefoot, where jigger transmission in the classroom becomes easy.

As well as this, the understanding of the cause of jiggers is a source of contention. Some in the village believe that jigger infestations are a result of witchcraft, and some have even claimed that the delay over the election of the new cultural King of Busoga; the Kyabazinga has brought a curse on the people of Busoga in the form of the jiggers. Such ideas have challenged the progress of education campaigns to help people prevent and treat jiggers.

Lack of access to health facilities also plays a role. A family in Kamuli who lost a baby to anaemia after their house was badly affected by jiggers told their local paper that they treated their jigger bites with local herbs, but never sought treatment from the health centre for the multiple infections resulting from the jiggers. Those most affected by the jiggers; young children and the elderly, are the least able to access treatment, particularly those who are so badly affected they can no longer walk.

The response:

Intense debate about jiggers has been raging over the past few years. In 2008 in the Ugandan Parliament legislators called for the arrests of people with jiggers, claiming that “it is total negligence for any sane Ugandan to suffer from jiggers”; and demanding arrests under the Public Health Act of people for failing to take care of their bodies. And more recently the network support agent called people suffering from jiggers “criminals”. Despite the fervour, this has not proved successful.

In the heat of the upcoming election, multiple candidates have claimed jigger eradication as their main platform.

In October the Ministry of Health, in partnership with several NGOs launched the National Jigger Campaign. The campaign involved a clinic in Kamuli, where over 300 people suffering from jiggers turned up to receive medical assistance in removing jiggers and having infections treated with antiseptics and antibiotics. The campaign also distributed free flip flops, towels, basins and soap, to encourage proper hygiene, to remove eggs and prevent infections. A local newspaper reported that many of these items were sold shortly after being received illustrating how poverty creates challenges to progressing the fight against jiggers.

What should UVP do?

Jiggers are known to affect the communities in which UVP works. UVP is now in discussion with the District Health Office about ways we can work together to educate people in the village about hygiene, separating animal and human living spaces, removing jiggers and when to seek treatment for jigger-related infections.

Through training and community sensitisation, UVP hopes to be part of the push to eradicate jiggers from Iganga district and the Busoga region.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shop On Amazon, Benefit UVP!

Hello friends and supporters!

You can now do your holiday shopping on Amazon and benefit Uganda Village Project! All you have to do is shop through one of the banners listed below. Browse and buy away! It's for a good cause.

Thank you! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Buy Nothing Day: Success!

Buy Nothing Day: Your opportunity to share, instead of spending
Thanks to everyone who participated in Buy Nothing Day - we managed to raise over $700! This money will be going directly to Uganda as soon as possible to bolster our community public health programs - not to our own fundraising, publicity, or administrative work internationally.  Our organization allows supporters to have the biggest possible impact at the grassroots level in Ugandan villages!

We really think that improving the lives of others and sharing our own wealth is what Thanksgiving, and, indeed, the rest of the holiday season is all about. That's why we're going to give you the opportunity to give the gift of health to children and their families in Uganda for the holidays, and dedicate those gifts to your family members and friends. Stay tuned - we'll post the details about how to purchase gifts as part of our Holiday Campaign very soon....

Monday, November 22, 2010

Buy Nothing; Give Something

Buy Nothing Day is Friday Nov 26th in the US/Canada, and Saturday Nov 27th everywhere else* - It's about pausing for reflection in the midst of the busiest shopping period of the year.

Uganda Village Project is asking you to abstain from buying stuff on Buy Nothing Day and instead, to use that time and money to make a difference in the lives of people without the luxury of consumer choice.

Donations can be made at:

For the price of a new pair of jeans, you can help dozens of people in rural Iganga access treatment and repair for curable eye diseases. Instead of dinner in a restaurant you can provide mosquito nets to protect a whole family from malaria. Not buying never felt so good.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forging Ahead in Sanitation Advancement

One of the first things you have to adjust to upon arrival in Uganda is the bathroom situation. Commonly, you are lead a few feet from your living quarters to a concrete 4” X 6” room with a hole in the center. At first, you look at it with robust curiosity; then, you put together what it is and can’t help but wonder, “Where does it all go?”

Sanitation does not cross the average person’s mind in developed nations. But, in developing nations, where 1.1 billion people still use old world sanitation means, there is an ongoing conversation on how to make improvements to rid the general population of the diseases it spreads so quickly. Poor sanitation is the main cause of the spread of waterborne diseases: like Hookworm, that leads to malnutrition that can reduce immunity to other diseases, and Trachoma, the leading cause of preventable blindness in Uganda.
With the rainy season still underway, these concerns continue to rise. The Uganda Village Project launched a new campaign under our “Healthy Villages” program focused on improving sanitation. The Village Sanitation Campaigns created plans to improve and increase the number of latrines, hand-washing facilities, bathing rooms, UV- disinfecting stands, and trash pits in Ugandan homes. Since the project’s launch in early 2010, houses including new methods of combating issues caused by uncontrolled sanitation have increased dramatically: plate stands in houses increased from 15% to 100%, the creation of trash pits rose from 13% to 96%, hand-washing facilities in homes went up 80%, and covers over latrines went from 8% to 64%.
On October 1st, a decade after they set their Millennium Development Goals, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution clarifying the meaning of a right to “Clean Drinking Water and Sanitation.” As efforts to improve the world’s condition slowly take off, UVP can stand tall and continue its hard work as an example to the rest of the world.
By Jeyandini Fernando
For more information on how you can help our sanitation efforts, please visit our Cause:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sharing what we've learned

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday found Uganda Village Project staff presenting at the Joint 6th College of Health Sciences and 18th UNACOH Annual Scientific Conference. Ntalo Julius (Fistula Coordinator), Alanta Colley (Healthy Villages Coordinator), and Linnea Ashley (Programme Manager) shared insights UVP has acquired in its seven years working in Iganga District. Our presentations included, community lead sanitation pushes, Volunteer Health Teams and summer volunteer program best practices, and surgical referral networks.

The conference assembled more than 150 clinicans, researchers, and public health professionals from around Uganda and beyond sharing local research, challenges, and innovative approaches to Uganda's health challenges.

UVP summer intern alumnus, Sujal Parikh, also presented, bringing attention to the importance of health and human rights education in the United Sates and opportunities for international collaboration.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


To all officers, trustees, and friends of Uganda Village Project:
We are currently seeking enthusiastic, dedicated individuals to serve on our executive board and board of trustees for the organization. Officers and trustees serve on a voluntary basis to support and guide our activities on the ground in the Iganga District of Uganda, where our public health programs serve rural communities. Our main program is called Healthy Villages, which takes a grassroots approach to developing a basic public health/health package for rural communities in conjunction with community members themselves, and strives to increase access to healthcare and build capacity within these communities. These programs address common rural health issues such as sanitation, nutrition, malaria, family planning, and eye health. Our other areas of focus include safe water activities such as well construction and household storage solutions, facilitation of obstetric fistula care, and provision of scholarships to orphans for higher education.

Current openings include:
-Assistant Director
-Co-treasurer (assists with treasury duties)
-Fundraising Chair
-Secretary/Publicity Chair
-Internship Coordinator
-At-Large Board Members

Qualifications sought include:
- Background in legal issues faced by nonprofits, or accounting/financial experience as it applies to nonprofits
- Fundraising or publicity background, particularly in the areas of grant writing and social media
- Relevant public health and healthcare program experience

To apply for an executive board or trustee position, please send a CV/resume and cover letter to: by September 30th, 2010.
Questions regarding responsibilities of board members or the application process may also be directed to the same address.

Learn more about our programs at our website -

Friday, August 20, 2010

Your Support at Work: Holiday Fundraiser Update

Delivering Water

Since January 2010, we have constructed 4 shallow wells, and facilitated the repair of a fifth. We also have 2 wells currently under construction. Each of our wells reaches at least 500 villagers, over half of them children. Poor water and poor sanitation and hygiene account for 80% of all diarrheal disease in Uganda – and diarrheal disease causes almost a fifth of Uganda’s deaths of children under five! Thus water provision remains one of the most effective ways to save lives in Uganda.
We restructured our Safe Water program this year, putting greater emphasis on educating communities about water treatment, training village Water User Committees, and monitoring and evaluating the effects of our community-constructed shallow wells. We have also adopted an improved and more expensive shallow well construction model, which will ensure that we are delivering the highest quality water to our villages.

Combating HIV/AIDS
Uganda Village Project held 10 massive HIV and STI testing days over summer 2010, counseling and testing 1419 villagers. That’s about 12% of the adults in our villages! Of those tested, 34 were HIV-positive – quite a low rate for Eastern Uganda. We referred HIV-positive villagers to various Health Centers and NGOs for further counseling and free anti-retroviral treatment.

To run our testing days, we partner with a Community-Based Organization (CBO) called St. Mary’s. Every testing day is held directly in the village, so that villagers without the ability to travel to Health Centers or Iganga Town are able to access testing. This year we tested 200 villagers for syphilis, as well as for HIV, and found a remarkably high rate of infection. We are investigating this trend, and plan to bring more syphilis testing to the villages soon.Giving Vision
We committed massive resources to our eye care program during the first half of 2010. Some of our accomplishments are:

12 cataract removals
37 villagers given glasses
27 lid rotation surgeries, for villagers with trachoma
250 villagers treated in total

Alanta Colley, UVP Healthy Villages Coordinator, facilitated one special patient's surgical repair and recovery: "We returned Nabirye Betty to her home today, and she's a different woman from when we first met her; when I met her 4 weeks ago she was in pain, very thin, blind, and very slow. Today she was looking healthy and much less thin, was smiling and able to move around easily by herself. Her pain seems to have disappeared. We returned her back to her family who were overjoyed to receive her. The cataract operation was a success," Alanta reports.

Preventing Malaria
Uganda Village Project continues to provide high quality, Long Lasting Insecticide-Treated Nets (LLINs) to our “Healthy Villages.” Since the beginning of 2010 we have sold roughly 1,150 nets! As most of these nets will cover at least 2 villagers, this means over 2 thousand villagers – perhaps half of them children – protected against malaria.

Various studies across the developing world have shown that sleeping under an insecticide-treated net prevents malaria by 14-60%. Yet in Uganda, Africa’s third highest country for rate of malaria deaths, only 12.8% of people sleep under nets! We are committed to increasing this coverage rate in our catchment area, and have recently improved our distribution and monitoring technique in order to most effectively target those villagers most in need of mosquito nets and malaria education.

Providing Sanitation
In early 2010, Uganda Village Project launched Village Sanitation Campaigns in each of our “Healthy Villages.” So far, we have only completed campaigns in three villages, but already we have helped villagers to…. ADD BUTONGOLE.

Dig 9 and improve 181 latrines
Construct 357 hand-washing facilities
Build 21 kitchens and 63 bathing rooms
Build 278 UV-disinfecting plate stands
Dig 289 trash pits

These numbers represent a drastic increase in sanitation levels! In Bugabula, for instance, houses with hand-washing facilities went from 19% to 99%. Houses with plate stands from 15% to 100%. Presence of trash pits increased from 13% to 96%, and houses with covers over their latrine from 8% to 64%.

Poor sanitation causes many diseases, from trachoma (Uganda’s leading cause of preventable blindness) to diarrheal disease (a top killer of children), to hookworm (which cause malnutrition, increase the risk of all other diseases). By increasing sanitation in our villages we are increasing health and saving lives!

Fighting Malnutrition
We have been supporting the nutritional and medical needs of 2 babies in Bulumwaki Village. Both children were severely malnourished as infants, and suffer continual health problems as a result. We have been providing these babies with supplemental milk formulas, treating their co-morbidities (such as measles and malaria), bringing them to doctors who are experts in child nutrition, and training their parents to care for them in the best possible way.

We realize that we can’t save every malnourished child in Uganda. But we can save a few, all the while working to prevent those conditions which cause malnutrition in the first place – malaria, poor water, lack of immunization, poverty, worms, misunderstandings about child nutrition. In fall of 2010 we shall be embarking upon a more comprehensive nutrition program in our Healthy Villages, likely involving vegetable gardens.

Safeguarding Pregnancy

We continued to provide reliable birth control options and family planning education in Healthy Villages, giving youth, women and married couples the ability to choose when they have children and how often. By training local health center nurses to conduct these outreaches, we have improved the ability of the health centers to provide quality contraception in their catchment area.

At the moment, an average of 20 women from each of our 10 villages are on UVP-provided birth control. Some of these women are young – 15 or 16 and still in secondary school. Birth control might keep these girls in school long enough to finish their degree and have a chance at university. Some of the women are older – perhaps 45 with 8 children already. These women are grateful for the ability to stop having children, and focus on providing for the kids they have.

In most of Eastern Uganda family planning is widely regarded as suspect and possibly dangerous, and most government health centers have a periodic supply of contraceptives at best. By coupling education and direct provision of contraceptives we are improving the situation. Most of our villages had only 1 or 2 women practicing family planning before we entered the scene so an average of 20 is a huge accomplishment!

Educating Children

Uganda Village Project continues to provide education to orphans and other vulnerable children in Iganga District. We are currently funding 39 secondary school students. We are also funding 2 university students: Robert Mukholi at Kyambogo University, and Mercy Bakirya at Kampala International University. Our 2 university students overcame personal trails and stiff competition to gain university acceptance, and we are very proud of them!

Repairing Fistulas
Uganda Village Project continues to provide healing surgery to women with obstetric fistula. Since January 2010, we have facilitated this surgery for 17 women.

Obstetric fistula (Latin for “hole”) is characterized by an abnormal passageway between the vagina or uterus and internal organs such as the bladder or rectum, which leads to persistent leakage of urine and/or feces through the vagina. This leakage and the rank odor that follows, together with a diverse array of other possible side effects such as infertility, chronic infection, and neurological injury, all conspire towards a devastating outcome whereby the woman is isolated from family, society, and employment.

Uganda Village Project is continuing to address this horrific condition in Iganga District through village education, the creation of Health Center referral networks, and surgery for women suffering from fistula.

By Leah Bevis

Monday, July 12, 2010

13 Days in Kamuli: Repairing Fistulas, Transforming Lives

Obstetric Fistula is a condition not frequently heard of in industrialized countries, but here in Uganda it affects the lives of many women. Most often a result of prolonged and/or obstructed labor, fistulas develop when the pressure of the baby cuts off blood supply to the tissues of the vagina, bladder, and/or rectum while the woman struggles to give birth. The tissues die and a hole (a ‘fistula’) forms through which urine and/or feces can leak. It is a condition that is preventable through proper pre-natal care and doctor supervised childbirth, two things that women in poverty often make do without. Despite how common fistulas are here, many women go undiagnosed for years, shunned by their families and communities, and living under the assumption that they are cursed. Even if they manage to get diagnosed, surgical treatment is generally too expensive for most women from the villages.

As awareness of Obstetric Fistula has grown, efforts have been made to provide women with surgery free of charge. At Kamuli Mission Hospital, three fistula camps are held per year, where foreign doctors spend just over a week performing surgeries and doing check-ups. Due to the fact that so many women are unaware that their condition can be cured, Uganda Village Project dedicates substantial time and energy to discovering women suffering from obstetric fistula, and ensuring they get surgery. As a UVP intern this summer, I was extremely lucky to be able to accompany eleven fistula patients located by UVP to the fistula camp in Kamuli, and witness the beginning of their transformation.

While all of my time spent in Uganda this summer has been a tremendous learning experience, the 13 days I spent at the fistula camp will stand out in my memory as 13 of the most powerful days in my life. After my first two days of interviewing patients and hearing their stories, I had never felt more frustrated and saddened by the world we live in. However, after the subsequent days watching surgeries and tending to the recovering women, I am now full of hope and admiration for them, and in awe of the talented and compassionate doctors who come from so far away to help these women reclaim their lives.

All of the women had truly painful and inspiring stories, but a few were particularly moving in their illustration of the power of fistula surgery. Nabirye Efulansi was 19 years old when she first suffered from the condition, and it took 12 years thereafter before she was diagnosed. She is now 40 years old, and returning to the fistula camp for a third time, hoping to further alleviate her discomfort and improve her mobility. What makes her truly heroic is that, despite suffering from obstetric fistula, she manages to support herself and 9 other people. Through subsistence farming alone she manages to provide for 2 elderly people and 7 orphaned grandchildren, the eldest of which is only 13 years old. Her success would be remarkable for a healthy person, but for a woman with her condition, it is nearly unfathomable.

Atim Caroline is 19 years old, and has suffered from obstetric fistula for one year. She was attending boarding school when she got pregnant. Her baby died during labor, the father of her child left her – and she was left with fistulas. Although fluent in English, obstetric fistula forced Atim to drop out of school. She has been struggling to support herself through odd jobs and random acts of kindness from others. At such a young age, she has her whole life in front of her, and she confided that after surgery she hopes to go back to school to eventually become a doctor. One year younger than I, she withstood the 3 hour long surgery with the maturity of one resigned to her fate, hardly daring to believe it was actually happening. It is dangerous for fistula patients to invest energy in hope, as surgeries often need to be repeated multiple times. Yet, it is a truly beautiful thing to watch someone regain that hope. Checking up on her every day until I left, I began to see a delicate spark of optimism begin to develop, tentatively at first, and then with a growing sense of confidence. There is nothing greater for a woman who has lived with obstetric fistula, and I am so thankful that UVP helps to bring them that gift.

By Claire Lauer

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bombing in Kampala: All UVPers Believed To Be Safe

Update from the Director at 12:40am EST 7/12/10

Staff have confirmed by communication with all teams that all interns were safely in Iganga last night. I wanted to let any worried family or friends know that although there was a bombing incident in Kampala at two bars where people were watching the World Cup game, no intern or staff from Uganda Village Project was affected.

Iganga is about 3 hours east of Kampala.

I hope this will help for anyone who is checking the site, you may call me at my cell phone if you have any other questions. I will update the site further as I hear any pertinent news. We have a safety plan in action currently and all interns have been advised to avoid crowds or areas where foreigners gather until further notice.

Alison Hayward
Uganda Village Project Director

Monday, May 10, 2010

NYT Article: "In Uganda, AIDS War is Falling Apart"

Today the New York Times ran an excellent and very sad series of article on the AIDS situation in Uganda and across the world. Read them here:

In Uganda, AIDS War is Falling Apart

As the Need Grows, the Money for AIDS Runs Far Short

After Long Scientific Search, Still No Cure for AIDS

Cultural Attitudes and Rumors Are Lasting Obstacles to Safe Sex

Below are few quotes from the first article...

Uganda is the first country where major clinics routinely turn people [seeking HIV drugs] away, but it will not be the last. In Kenya next door, grants to keep 200,000 on drugs will expire soon. An American-run program in Mozambique has been told to stop opening clinics. There have been drug shortages in Nigeria and Swaziland. Tanzania and Botswana are trimming treatment slots, according to a report by the medical charity Doctors Without Borders.

And, most devastating of all, old-fashioned prevention has flopped. Too few people, particularly in Africa, are using the “ABC” approach pioneered here in Uganda: abstain, be faithful, use condoms.

For every 100 people put on treatment, 250 are newly infected, according to the United Nations’ AIDS-fighting agency, Unaids.

That makes prospects for the future grim. Worldwide, even though two million people with the disease die each year, the total keeps growing because nearly three million adults and children become infected.

Even now, the fight is falling short. Of the 33 million people infected, 14 million are immuno-compromised enough to need drugs now, under the latest World Health Organization guidelines. (W.H.O. guidelines are conservative; if all 33 million were Americans, most clinicians would treat them at once.)

Instead, despite a superhuman effort by donors, fewer than four million are on treatment. Just to meet the minimal W.H.O. guidelines, donations would have to treble instead of going flat.

Uganda is a microcosm of that: 500,000 need treatment, 200,000 are getting it, but each year, an additional 110,000 are infected.

“You cannot mop the floor when the tap is still running on it,” said Dr. David Kihumuro Apuuli, director-general of the Uganda AIDS Commission.

“I’m worried we’ll be in a ‘Kampala situation’ in other countries soon,” said Ambassador Eric Goosby, the Obama administration’s new global AIDS coordinator.

“What I see is making me very scared,” agreed Michel SidibĂ©, executive director of Unaids. Without a change of heart among donors, Mr. SidibĂ© said, “the whole hope I’ve had for the last 10 years will disappear.”

Donors give about $10 billion a year, while controlling the epidemic would cost $27 billion a year, he estimated.

His predecessor, Dr. Peter Piot, said he had seen optimism soar and then fade.

American officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed the financing freeze.

“The decision was made late in the Bush administration to cap Uganda at $280 million,” one said. “That’s an industrial amount of money.”

United States Embassy officials debated adding $38 million, he said, but cabinet-level Ugandan ministers had been caught stealing from other donors and, though forced to repay the money, were not jailed. The government “hasn’t shown the leadership or commitment to transparency to earn additional funds,” the official added.

Also, he said, Uganda contributes too little. Oil was recently discovered near Lake Albert and the government promised to spend the royalties on roads and electricity, but did not mention AIDS.

“And now the paper says they’re buying Russian jets,” another official added with obvious disgust. Uganda is negotiating for a $300 million squadron of Sukhoi fighter-bombers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sanitation Week Stories

We partnered with the District Water Office in March, in order to do sanitation work in all of the Healthy Villages, in celebration of International Sanitation Week. We were meant to specifically focus in Nabitovu - district officials and a team of 50 university students would go there every day to do house-to-house sanitation education and hands-on work. District officials also planned to visit each of our HV villages, however, so that all were participating in "Sanitation Week." We had already arranged "hands-on days" in each of our other villages, this time the district offiicals would come along for the ride. Part of UVP's annual sanitation goals this year include holding these sanitation 'push' campaigns in each of our Healthy Villages.

The Sanitation Days really began on Wednesday. On Tuesday, to get everything organized and ready, Julius had held a hands-on training with 4 of the university students and a bunch of the VHT members. He went over how to make a tippy-tap, a plate stand, etc. He also helped the VHT members come up with an action plan - for the rest of the week (Wed - Sat), all sanitation workers would divide into 6 groups. Each group would be lead by a VHT member (or perhaps 2), and a UVP or District individual (or perhaps 2), and have around 8 or 9 university students. Over the course of the week, we worked with these teams to ensure that each team was constructing tippy taps that was up to standard, and UVP staff used our bicycles to travel from home to home checking in on the teams. We also provided lunch to the university students, to allow them to put in a full day's work.

In the end, it was an incredible, amazing success! On Friday, I went to the meeting place, knowing that I would find somebody working nearby, and indeed I did: I found Edward, one of the VHT members. He was wandering around with a bunch of Jerry-Cans over his shoulder and a bundle of wire, and he agreed to take me over to Julius's team. On the way from Kasokoso's (the meeting place), we passed house after active house - the entire village had come alive with sanitation work! It was incredible. Houses were being "smeared" (this apparently keeps fleas away), tippy-taps were everywhere, wood was being cut for plate stands and latrines and trash pits were being dug... two individuals stopped us, as we walked the 2 or so minutes to Julius's team, in order to ask Edward about getting a tippy-tap, or wire, or string, or something like that. Edward told me that the whole village was like this - "people did not go to their gardens today," he said. "They have been working since morning, just doing sanitation."

It was truly amazing. It seemed like the university students, district people and UVP staff, had somehow become a critical mass, and ignited a fire of action in the village that was now continuing without us. Everyone is working! Everyone suddenly wants their house to be as excellent as their neighbor's! It is truly inspiring to see.
-- Leah Bevis, Healthy Villages Coordinator

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Malawi and Uganda Consider HIV Status Bill

This link describes a bill being considered in Malawi, but Uganda is actually considering passing the same law.

If passed, the law would make it illegal for a person who knows they are HIV-positive to infect another individual.  The article above mostly focuses on the problems this would pose to sex industry workers - and there's certainly a healthy industry in Uganda who could complain of the same. 

A few months ago, however, a friend pointed out to me an even bigger problem with such a law. (She was referring in our case to Uganda, not Malawi.)  Making it illegal to knowingly pass on HIV essentially makes it dangerous to know that you have HIV.  Not knowing is safer - if you pass it on, you can't get convicted, because you had no idea!  This provides a disincentive for testing, which is the only true way to know if you are HIV-positive.  

Imagine, for instance, that two married people living in a village are HIV-positive.  The woman (lets call her Isa), suspects that her husband (Nsoni) has AIDs, and has passed on HIV to herself.  Isa figures that Nsoni probably contracted HIV in the years after their marriage - perhaps through mere cheating, or perhaps through another wife.  Isa wants to test herself for HIV.  After all, she's still having children by Nsoni, and if she's HIV-positive she wants to take the proper precautions to avoid mother-to-child transmission.  However, to the best of Isa's knowledge, Nsoni has never been tested himself.  So this mean that if she tests herself, she'll be the first one to know that she is HIV positive.  This would allow Nsoni, in the coming years, to prosecute her for knowingly passing along HIV to him - never mind that he's almost certainly the one who had it first, because now it can't be proved either way.  But it would be clear that Isa was the only first one who knew about it (for sure), and especially if she didn't volunteer the results of the test to Nsoni right away, she might be liable under the law. 

I don't claim to be an expert on this sort of HIV related policy, but this was the story that my friend explained to me, in our conversation months ago.  And I think its a worrying one. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reproductive Health News from Iganga

Interesting article from - Iganga District in the news.

Iganga Stores Full of Contraceptives

Comments from UVP staff or locals?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fundraising Month Begins in 1 Week

In just one week, Fundraising Month for Uganda Village Project will begin!
This is a time of year when we work our hardest to raise funds in order to be able to bring safe water to villages, give scholarships to orphans, improve nutrition and sanitation for rural families, and all the many important programs that will change lives in the Iganga District for the rest of the year.

Would you like to join us? It's easy! Anyone can help!
- Visit our brand new Fundraising and Media Center where you can download brochures, posters, and a manual full of fundraising ideas and tips
- Stay tuned- we'll be posting weekly updates to this blog on the progress made towards our goals, successful fundraising stories, ideas, and more
- If you'd like to stay updated on what other friends and UVP members are doing for Fundraising Month, check our Twitter feed, join our Facebook Cause, or be sure that you are on the mailing list for our newsletter.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Landslide in Eastern Uganda

Crossing The Mudslide, by rebecca_genevive on Flickr
contributed by Jeyandini Fernando

This past weekend in New York City, the rains were deemed torrential and caused much damage to the suburban communities around the metropolitan area. Flights were cancelled, school children kept safe at home, and rescue crews worked to clean up the damage. Two days later, the sun is shining and we are all back to the daily routines that were on hold from the weather. Earlier this month, heavy rains caused brutal landslides in the Bududa region of Uganda. Except, 2 weeks later, everything is not back to normal.

Around 200,000 people live in the most affected area surrounding Mount Elgon; about 300 are expected to be dead. The locals, now “rescue workers,” are struggling to recover bodies under five, and sometimes ten, meters (16-32 feet) of mud. Entire villages have been renamed cemeteries. An estimation of when the mud can be cleaned up is impossible since the downpours continue in the rainy season. As the victims fall deeper, any hope of a proper burial or last rites disappears.

I remember the rain when I first got to Uganda. The rattle on the tin roof kept me up all night in fear of the apocalypse. But, during the days, the strings of raindrops that fell at ridiculous speeds looked like waterfalls in our little village. Twenty minutes later, all the green landscapes were showered with drops of dew. The beauty was breathtaking. I can’t imagine the scene now in eastern Uganda.

The dramatic change from two years ago is unimaginable. Experts say that the lack of land on level ground has forced families to move onto and around the mountains. The deforestation of trees and shrubs for agriculture has left the land untethered and free to wash down the mountainside, and at high speeds can sweep away unsuspecting local community members in a heartbeat.

It is in these moments of reminiscing that I realize how large an impact one summer volunteering in Uganda had on my life. That connection lasts forever. Our hearts go out to the Ugandan people of the Bududa region, just 70 miles from Iganga where our office is located.

View Iganga and Bududa Region in a larger map

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Women’s Day in Uganda

Monday March 9th was International Women’s Day. Julius and I celebrated it by running a sanitation workshop in Nabitovu Village. Twenty-eight village leaders attended the workshop, mostly Village Health Team (VHT) members and political leaders.

Nabitovu’s Village Health Team is, fittingly enough, run by a woman called Mbasaliki Monica. Mbasaliki is our most active VHT Chair, and because of her the team is probably our most effective VHT team. Even before we planned our current Sanitation Campaigns, Mbasaliki had organized groups of VHT members and political leaders to go around the village checking households for latrines, and educating families about the importance of latrines and sanitation.

Also, almost half the members of the Nabitovu Village Heath Team are women, and I notice increasingly that, during VHT meetings, women speak up almost as much as men. This is rare in Uganda – go to most village meetings and you’ll quickly notice that the women (who sit on mats), barely voice a word of opinion, while the men (who sit on chairs), dominate every discussion.

Then again, the maternal mortality rate in Uganda is still around 550 out of 100,000 live births. For comparison’s sake, the rate is 11 and 8 out of  10,000 in the US and in Sweden, respectively.  This means that 1 in 25 Ugandan women will die of pregnancy-related causes, while only 4800 will do so in the United States.  Uganda has one of the highest rates of Obstetric Fistula in the world, a painful and physically isolating condition caused by prolonged, obstructed labor. In developed countries, obstetric fistula is unheard of – only in the poorest countries are maternal care standards low enough for such a horrific condition to become prevalent.

Gender roles are incredibly stringent in Uganda (and across Sub-Saharan Africa in general). Women are expected to work in the garden, fetch water, cook all meals, keep the compound clean, wash clothes for half a dozen people or more by hand, look after the kids and tend sick family members, and so on. They also have virtually no say in the allocation of family resources – men are perfectly free to spend the proceeds of their wife’s labor drinking, no matter how badly the household may be lacking food, soap, or school tuition money.

Women have arguably benefited under President Museveni. Now, a set number of women must be Members of Parliament. Every village has an elected women’s leader. Universal primary education, and recently universal education up to senior four (grade 10), has certainly boosted female school attendance.

However, many Ugandans believe that “universal education,” poorly funded as it is, has caused educations standards to sink dramatically, and has thus done more harm that good for the country.

One of the saddest facts of female life in Uganda is the prevalence of domestic abuse. Beating one’s wife is frowned upon in most Ugandan cultures, in the same way that being publicly drunk is frowned upon. That is to say, it is unfortunate, and a bit embarrassing, but nothing that can’t be easily overlooked if a man is respectable and hard working in the other areas of his life. I would guess – and I may be wrong here – that it is the very rare wife indeed who has never once suffered the back of her husbands hand, and many women suffer frequent and brutal beatings.

I was reminded of this fact on Women’s Day in Nabitovu, as I sat around with a few Village Health Team members waiting for the workshop to begin. They were handing around a few photographs, shaking the heads and clucking their tongues in deeply disapproving manner. I leaned over to ask what they were looking at. They showed me. In the photographs, all of them, lay a dead woman, tossed into a thicket of grass by the side of a road. The woman looked to have been about 28 or 30, but was so bruised, cut, and blood-stained that it was hard to tell.

She was a villager from Nabitovu, the team told me, beaten to death by her husband four months prior. “Was the man now in jail?” “Yes.” “The poor, poor woman.” “Yes.”

They continued to look over the photographs, shaking their heads and murmuring in Lusoga. I turned my head to avoid accidently glancing at the photographs again. After a few minutes the owner of the photographs gathered them up and put them away, and as the last one was placed out of sight one of the women clapped her hands together, in a typical Ugandan gesture of disgust. “Aah,” she proclaimed, perhaps to me, or perhaps to the group at large. “Domestic violence, you see? That is the life of a woman in Uganda.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kambuzi's Fish Pond in Walukuba Village

Samuel Kambuzi is our Walukuba Village Health Team chair, and one of the hardest-working men in Iganga.  A few weeks ago he invited the UVP staff to come see his 'fish pond.' We went, not knowing what to expct. 


The pond is incredible - perhaps 30 by 60 feet, and full of fish.  Another lies next to it, not quite finished.  Kambuzi, his brothers and a few village political leaders financed the fish pond jointly, and they plan to share the proceeds.  The initiative is incredibly because they had virtually no guidance, and yet there was the pond, and there were the fish, darting about and eating ground maize as Kambuzi threw it into the water. 

Fish ponds are not an area of UVP specialization, but we had brought along a man who works on village income genation projects for another NGO, JIDDECO.  This man looked over the pond and offered some general advice: water ought to drain from the bottom of thepond, not the top, strings ought to be strung across the pond in rows to prevent birds eating fish.  The man promised to arrange a series of training days, run by another JIDDECO staff person who specializes infish ponds..  JIDDECO would finance the first training, but Kambuzi and his partners would have to pay forthe rest.  Kambuzi agreed - such techincal expertise would surely be worth the cost, as it would raise their profits in the long run.  We feel sure that the venture will be a success, if only because of the incredible committment shown by this groups of village leaders.

District Celebrates "Sanitation Week" in Nabitovu Village

This week, we have a very exciting addition to our sanitation work in the Healthy Villages: the District Water Office is celebrating international “Sanitation Week” in our villages, focusing particularly in Nabitovu Village.  District officials will be helping us out in all of our five “Healthy Villages,” but a HUGE number of university students, studying health and sanitation development courses, are working in Nabitovu Village today (Wendesday), Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  These students will be working with the LC members and VHT members to do house-to-house outreach, going around and teaching families to construct sanitation measures.  UVP is, as normal, providing subsidized materials for the process, though the District might pitch in for additional materials in a day or so. 


Nabitovu Village is huge – it has about 360 households, and because of the way that houses and gardens are laid out, houses are spread apart instead of being clustered together in the middle of the village.  Thus, reaching out to every area of Nabitovu is quite difficult, and having this type of manpower at our disposal (about 50 enthusiastic and educated university students!), is going to allow us to make a greater impact in Nabitovu than we could have ever done on our own – at least, in a week’s time. 

Sanitation work will continue, as stated, until Saturday, and then take a rest on Sunday.  On Monday (World Water Day), the district is sponsoring a "Sanitation Celebration" in Nabitovu.  District officials and Sub-County officials will attend, and the village will put on entertainment in the form of music, dance, and drama.  UVP's second shallow well in Nabitovu will also be commissioned on this day.  UVP staff members will also take this time to address the entire village of Nabitovu (likely a few hundred villages will be gathered), announcing that this day is not the end of sanitation work in Nabitovu, but rather the beginning.  While the district will cease its work on Monday, UVP and the Nabitovu VHT and other leaders will continue to work across the village, helping families to improve on their sanitation standards, and thus improve health and standard of living.  


Yesterday, representatives from the University crew met with our Nabitovu VHT and the Nabitovu LC members.  They agreed to divide up into 6 groups, with accompanying villagers for each group, to move around the village helping families build sanitation measures.  The work starts this morning, and I will post another blog at the end of the week, to let everyone know how it goes!!

Sanitation Progress in UVP's "Healthy Villages"

We have now completed all Sanitation Workshops, in all villages.  Overall, the workshops were a wild success.  About 25 – 30 people attended each workshop, day long affairs that were intensive, interactive, and a LOT of fun.  Most attendees were Village Health Team members or LC (political council) leaders, though other leaders and important community members attended.


The two thirds of the workshops were mostly informational, and discussion based.  We did certain funny demonstrations too – for instance, having somebody drink supposedly clean water from a bottle, but having secretly dissolved a ton of salt in the water, to demonstrate the idea of invisible germs or other water contaminants. 


The last part of the workshop involved making a map of all open defecation sites around the village, and marking houses without latrines, and then coming up with a village action plan to increase latrine coverage and general sanitation.  The action plan part differed for each village, but usually involved groups of LC members and Village Health Team members working in particular “zones” of the village, reaching out to neighbors and teaching them about sanitation.  UVP is subsidizing the cost of a number of basic sanitation-measure materials, such as small jerry-cans (for hand-washing facilities), and nails (for trash pits and plate stands).


Now, we are in the process of running “Hands-On Days” in the villages, teaching the workshop attendees to build trash pits, plate stands and hand-washing facilities, and going over the standards of excellent bathing rooms and latrines. 


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rainy Season Has Begun In Uganda

Rainy season has officially begun in Iganga. 

This season is different from the last rainy season, which began around mid-September of last year and ended sometime in November.  That season began every morning with soft sun, built a slow warmth over the course of the day, and got hot by mid-afternoon.  Around 4 or 5 in the evening a sudden coolness would fall; clouds would roll in, fast and then much faster; a dramatic rush of wind would cause plastic bags and leaves to blow about as if Mary Poppins were about to land, and I kid you not, children would scream – I don’t know why they never got used to it, or at least tired of screaming, but every day as the wind blew in they would scream – and people would rush frantically for cover.  Then the rain would come.  It would fall across the landscape like a wave, pounding down on us in thick, plush drops.  Everywhere the walking paths became rivers of rust-red, or huge, orange puddles receiving the raindrops like drumbeats.  Under cover, the people of Iganga would wait for half an hour or an hour, the droplets so loud on tin roofs that conversation was barely possible.  And then slowly the rain would slow, the drops would grow smaller, the clouds would begin to thin and fade and drift away.  Not long after it began the rain would be gone, only a few wisps of innocent-white cloud lingering in a scrubbed-clean blue sky.

This season, as I said, is different.  In fact, one might almost say it is opposite.  Late in the evening or in the night, the rain rolls in.  We wake up to hear it drumming above our heads as we lay in the dark under treated mosquito nets, and it continues as we drift in and out of consciousness with the approaching dawn.  We wake fully to find it raining still, a thin barely-rain, silver droplets that are more like steely water vapor than actual raindrops.  The sky is gray in the morning, layer upon layer of heavy cloud hanging above us, and sometimes a wind blows – a lesser version of the rushing wind from last season.  The grayness and the thinly falling rain continue for most of the morning, the thin droplets working their way up imperceptibly to a real, heavy rain a bit after midday.  This early afternoon rain is steady, but not plush like the rain of October – it is like the Atlantic to the Pacific, perhaps – stormier, colder, more predictable and more serious. 

Around one thirty or two in the afternoon, the rain begins to die down.  It becomes the tiniest bit less, and then less, drizzling on but steadily reducing.  Once the drops finally cease the clouds remain, hanging overhead as if any moment they might decide to drench us once again.  And just when you begin to think that today, truly, it shall remain cloudy until nightfall, you look up to see slivers of pale blue peering through gray.  The blue grows larger as the gray grows smaller, and finally by around four or four-thirty the sky looks like a storybook once again, typical Uganda, sunlit and laughing.  At times the blue remains until darkness, and other days the clouds begin to steal back the sky as dusk approaches.  The nights are black now, without the Milky Way shining overhead, and cool – even cold by Ugandan standards.  If we fall asleep in silence, we do so knowing that we shall wake in a few hours to the steadily growing patter of raindrops, and in our dreams we shall hear the rhythm of the rain, steady, constant, a drumbeat that has been the breath of Uganda for thousands of years.