Tag Archives: water

A little bit of a change


Lots of ideas

“So how would you avoid making the same mistake as Mugabe?”

It wasn’t a question I’d expected to ask of my trainees yesterday, the staff of an organisation called A Little Bit of Hope in the nearby-ish town of Busolwe. They’d raised the Zimbabwean president’s name: we were discussing the role of a communicator and one of them had mentioned the time Mugabe had delivered a whole speech without realising he was reading out the one he’d given last month.

The point was relevant though – and a sign they both understood my questions and were volunteering their own ideas, two things I’ve learned not to take for granted. Continue reading

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Power-saving mode

On the way here, Gerald the driver told me he watches Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and The Weakest Link on BBC Entertainment. Why did so many places in England have names ending in ‘shire’ and why was she only the Queen of England if she ruled the whole United Kingdom? I didn’t know.

Busembatia is only an hour’s drive from the expat-friendly, tourist-magnet town of Jinja, but it feels far from that world.

“Bye Mzungu!” squeal all the kids.

“Mzungu – it’s that colour that you have,” a man called James explained, slowing his bicycle alongside me to introduce himself. White people have stayed here before, but that doesn’t seem to have dulled the excitement.

Resources feel precious now. Continue reading

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Slumming it

This morning, Okwiri and I go to Dandora. Many people know of Kibera, Africa’s second-largest slum. Dandora isn’t that big, but it looks pretty disgusting.

As for Kibera: I’d prepared myself for the worst. And of course, on a sunny mid-morning, the reality didn’t seem that bad. With hindsight, though, I realise what I’d been dreading were pushing crowds, aggression, shouting, feeling threatened. There was none of that.

The viewThat’s not to say it’s easy to live here. Continue reading

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Burn it

Putting the bins outJennipher (age 9) looks after me – offering to clean my shoes, bringing my tea. There’s something to be said for the hierarchy of age that reigns in this part of the world, though when it extends to gender, it’s less appealing (e.g. girls kneel before their elders when greeting or thanking them, in a sign of respect, but boys don’t).

Anyway, one evening, Jennipher takes the rubbish from my room. ‘Now we burn it’, she says, brightly.

Next thing, I find myself crouched on the garbage heap next to our house, along with Jennipher and a few other kids (younger still), all knelt over the match that refuses to light. The plastic bag I’d tied up has been ripped open and a week’s worth of my waste is scattered at our feet: empty water bottles, dirty tissues and, well, personal stuff. I can’t remember now if it’s bad to burn plastic (fumes?), but it sure as hell is a bad idea to stand in a heap of waste picking up bits of used tissues. Continue reading

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Bottom of the class

Buying water at a cost from private vendors

Tanzania takes World Water Day – today, 22 March – to heart, and even celebrates a whole Maji (water) Week. Ironically, Dar es Salaam has been suffering from water shortages for two weeks now; for the last few days it has affected the wealthy neighbourhoods too. And for all the talk about doing something, this country is still in a bad, bad way.

There are statistics aplenty that I could quote – like the fact that 45%  of Tanzanians have no access to safe drinking water, that 26m people use unsanitary latrines and 5.4 million have no latrines at all. Continue reading

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