In the past years rice farmers in Uganda have been burning residue straw and husk after rice harvest, causing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Uganda’s rapid population growth (surpassed 30 million people in 2009) has contributed to increased levels of environmental degradation through deforestation and other practices. Over 80 percent of the population relies directly upon land, agriculture, and fishing for their livelihoods, environmental indicators reveal trends of degrading agricultural lands, soil erosion, deforestation, drainage of wetlands, loss of biodiversity, reduced rangeland capacity, and increased pollution. More so environmental degradation has been exacerbated by the arrival of refugees in Uganda from the neighboring countries, especially those from South Sudan and Democratic Republic of the Congo through clearing of the fields, search for firewood and other practices.
Impact Building Solutions Foundation (IBSF) in partnership with Malteser International (MI) setup a manufacturing facility to promote carbon-neutral construction through manufacturing of high-quality building panels with very high thermal resistance from rice straw, an alternative to the earthen burnt bricks. This will reduce Carbon-dioxide emissions by up to 11,000 tons per year and also create new job opportunities for the local host communities hence offering construction, environmental and unemployment solutions in Uganda. CAFOMI gratefully accepted an invitation from IBSF, through Malteser International, to the inaugural ceremony for the factory opening.
The Ceremony took place in Lalem, Nwoya District, Northern Uganda where the production facility is located. It was attended by numerous stakeholders from Government ministry departments and agencies in Uganda led by the Hon Grace Kwiyucwiny, Minister of State – for Northern Uganda, a Malteser International delegation led by President of Malteser International Europe, Douglas-Graf von Saurma-Jeltsch and Roland Hansen, the MI Africa Program Team leader, the Germany’s Ambassador to Uganda, Dr. Albrecht Conze as well as Uganda’s Ambassador to Rome, H.E Elizabeth Paula Napeyok.
In his speech, President Douglas Saurma, said that the partnership with IBSF is a reflection of MI’s new entrepreneurial approach to helping vulnerable people around the world. In addition to the eco-friendliness of straw construction, such as in Rhino Camp refugee settlement, this partnership aims to create employment opportunities for young people in the region, both Ugandans and refugees who will be employed in the production facility as well as on construction sites.
Dr Eckardt Dauck, the Chairman – IBSF said the project will address both climate change as well as protection of the environmental from degradation; this will help the country to transition into a green economy with low-carbon growth in the long run. He however added that the cost of the strawboard panels will vary according to location.
“one square meter of the strawboard panel at the facility costs between 15-20 USD, but however the cost will be different to those in the other places and will be slightly higher depending on the distance from the facility, he further explained that for the boards to withstand different weather conditions, they cannot be used as stand alones but require surface enhancement with roughcast.”
In his bi-lateral discussions, Mr. Francis Iwa – Executive Director, CAFOMI, paid tribute to MI and the MI President in particular, for the support MI rendered through CAFOMI to address the challenge posed by the EBOLA virus disease outbreak in Eastern DRC. He particularly thanked Mr Roland Hansen and Mr Hosana Adisu for having found CAFOMI worthy of a partner for MI. He underscored the importance CAFOMI attaches to partnerships, and pledged to support and promote partnerships, given the horizon it offers in addressing major challenges facing the current generation.
Mugarura Shawn Nicholas, August 2019