By Jimmy Kuloba, AAH Graduate & Volunteer
The Better Housing Project started in August of 2017 as partnership between AAH Uganda and the Kamal Foundation to help people cement the floors in their homes in different communities of Bududa district. This project is aimed at improving the lives of people in the district. The dirt floors that most of our people in Bududa district have can be a source of disease and can have pests such as jiggers (a parasitic insect) which negatively affect people’s health compared to cement floors. Our project focused only on the floors with all of the homes still remaining with the wood and mud walls. Having cement floors has been proven to greatly improve health and wellbeing.
We budgeted that we could complete 15 homes and began searching for 15 homes. All of the homes selected for the Better Housing Project were the homes of some of our primary students. We held a meeting to ask families to volunteer, but many people were resistant. After discussing the benefits with many people, we selected 15 homes in different areas of Bududa. This was so that they could act as demonstration homes and show the community the benefits.
We are happy that we have done 93% of the work on the 15 homes that were selected to be cemented as sample homes in our communities in Bududa district. We have successfully completed 14 of the homes selected using all of the donated materials. The 15th home has been placed in reserve with the hope that we can continue this program in the future. This is a good start and it has really promoted a lot of interest in the program amongst our people.
For the houses, the Kamal Foundation provided 5 bags of cement and AAH provided funds and facilitation of labour to every individual willing to provide the remaining materials. Each beneficiary provided sand, gravel, water and additional bags of cement to complete cementing the main living building.
After the materials were collected, I visited the homes to take house measurements, photos and see if the house was still strong enough to withstand the work. In case the house was not good enough I advised the head of the household to make the necessary improvements. Once everything was prepared, work went along smoothly and all of the families were happy with the finished product.
Families immediately saw a reduction in dust, found it easier to clean, and have been very happy with the outcome. Many of the beneficiaries who have additional buildings on their compound are planning to cement those areas as well.
Through my continuous work on educating the community, people are still coming to us seeking advice on how they can start cementing their homes. The majority of them have invited me to check on their houses to provide them accurate information on costs and materials and I have been happy to give them as much information as possible.
In addition to my education on the benefits of cement floors, I have also taken this opportunity to inform the community on the disadvantages of using kerosene for light in homes. We advise them to acquire solar lamps for better health in families. I was very happy to hear reports that some homes have had members starting to use solar lamps.
AAH Uganda aims at have all the people in Bududa district stay in houses with cement floors by the year 2020. I believe it will be possible because people have already shown interest.
Editor’s Note: Jimmy is an AAH graduate and is currently volunteering at the AAH Uganda offices in Bududa. He studied Project Management at university and was excited to take on this project. If you are planning a visit to AAH, Jimmy will be happy to show a home to you and answer any questions about the project.