|It came from Africa: Local solutions for local problems in Uganda|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2012 11:10|
Like most African countries, Uganda has its fair share of social problems, one of which is an alarming dropout rate among school pupils. A 2010 UNESCO study found that despite the country`s Universal Primary Education policy, which has seen many more children entering school since its introduction in the late 1990s, the dropout rate was the highest in East Africa, ahead of Kenya and Rwanda.
Of particular concern are girls dropping out of school, since the education of girls is considered central to breaking Africa`s cycle of poverty. (See the World Bank`s 2012 Gender Equality and Development Report.)
A study done on behalf of the Ugandan government, funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and UNICEF, lists the biggest reason for girls leaving school as pregnancy and early marriage (41.5%). The second most common reason why girls leave school is lack of money for school fees (26.9%). Lower on the list is poor sanitation.
Carried out by the Child Health and Development Centre at Makerere University, the “Sanitation and Hygiene in Primary Schools in Uganda” study bears this out: “Primary schools offer inadequate privacy and cleanliness of toilet facilities and washrooms are ill-equipped for use by female pupils/students. Facilities for proper means of disposal of used (sanitary) pads are missing and this does not prepare girls for proper use of these facilities.”
Musaazi’s was a three-pronged answer to the problem: In his lab on the campus of Makerere University, he invented the Makapad, a cheap sanitary pad made of papyrus and paper waste. He then designed a disposal incinerator that heats to nearly twice the temperature of other incinerators manufactured in Uganda. (A bigger version is sold to hospitals for the disposal of medical waste.) And to deal with the problem of the lack of running water, he built rainwater-harvesting tanks and solar water heaters, claiming that his is the only building on campus that is never without water and always has flush toilets. The tanks are built with interlocking dirt bricks designed by Musaazi as an alternative to regular bricks that have to be fire-baked and thus deplete the forests.
Musaazi’s company, Technology for Tomorrow (T4T), operates from the Technology Development and Transfer Centre in the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology at Makerere University, where he is a lecturer in electrical engineering. It is from here that he invents, develops and markets his products. Back to Network News.
Read the full story by Inc. Magazine's Leigh Buchanan.
Linda Cilliers is an Online Media Specialist at Organisation Systems Design
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