Spotlight on the Good Works of the RCM Community Trust: RCM’s Partnership with the Village Health Project

In the fall of 2016 the RCM Community Trust, at the recommendation of the World Community Service Committee, donated $2,000 to the Village Health Project (VHP), a community development organization that connects projects of agriculture, clean water, nutrition, sanitation, and microfinance into an orderly approach to improve the livelihood of residents of Lweza, Uganda. The specific focus of the grant is to support Andrew Denu, a recent UW-Madison graduate, in his efforts to develop a drip irrigation system.


Here are some excerpts a recent blog post by Andrew:


So, why drip irrigation? Food security is a problem for so many families in Lweza. Many struggle to grow crops efficiently or earn a high enough income to feed their large (averaging 6-8 children) families. Dryness is one main issue throughout Uganda due to unpredictable rains. A drip irrigation system attempts to solve dryness by using drip lines (thin pipes) with little holes that line up directly with the root zone of crops, mainly vegetables, and allows water to flow across a garden bed simply with gravity. There are many forms of drip, but I tried to determine the most affordable and efficient type of irrigation for people in Lweza. Thus, I found out about bucket drip irrigation.


A few weeks ago, I had a drip expert show me how to install a bucket drip system at the community demonstration garden, behind the Guest House where I stay. This garden is used as a way to teach the community about new agriculture techniques and animal husbandry. I piloted drip in the demo garden with cabbage, tomatoes, and eggplant, three vegetables that were commonly planted throughout the community when I was doing interviews. I held a workshop at the garden about the benefits/set-up of drip irrigation to a community-based organization in Lweza and members all seemed really interested. I have started to pilot it in the community with this organization whose members will spread the word about drip throughout the village. In order to create sustainability and ownership for the project, each recipient of drip must contribute a portion of the total cost, as well as labor. If people invest something into a project, they will not want to see it fail and will take care of the drip systems, which require some upkeep.


For more information about the Village Health Project, go to Abby Stepaniak, the daughter of RCM member Jerry Stepaniak, was one of the founders of the Village Health Project.