All posts from 2016

Meet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

Cleophas Tumuhimbise comes from the small fishing village of Kashaka, one of the villages where Fontes Foundation has installed a safe water system. His mother, as a single mother, could not afford his education. In the extremely poor villages of the Queen Elizabeth National Park, without an education, a young boy like Cleophas is expected to become a fisherman. A fisherman’s life is extremely harsh with little pay and dangerous working conditions. The fishermen of Kashaka risk their lives every day to catch fish in lakes that are crocodile and hippo infested. Thanks to Cleophas’s sponsor in Germany, he was given a chance to study and build a better life for himself.

With his donor’s support, Cleophas completed secondary school and two years of vocational training. He now has a certificate in electrical engineering and one in business management. His hard work and excellent grades made Cleophas a model student, while his outgoing and friendly personality has helped him to establish good relations and networks within his community. This strong community involvement made Cleophas the perfect candidate for our field intern position. And we weren’t wrong, he has already hit the ground running, assisting our field officer and also former scholarship student, Pascal. When Kashaka lost their water technician, Cleophas was quick to step in and take over the position.

In addition, Cleophas continues to build strong ties to his community by recently opening a bar in Kashaka.

By sponsoring a child through the Fontes Foundation’s Scholarship program, you can provide a child like Cleophas with the opportunity to escape poverty and create a better life for themselves and their community. Find out more about how to sponsor a child this Christmas.

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fontesMeet Scholarship Student, Cleophas

2016 Safe Water Seminar

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

This year, Fontes Foundation was able to hold a safe water seminar for the first time since 2012, thanks to a generous donation from the Pharo Foundation. The water seminar took place in Katunguru-Kasese from 24th-25th November, 2016. The objective of the water seminar was to improve financial and technical capabilities of the Fontes Foundation water committees to ensure adequate water service delivery to the community. The seminar addressed a number of areas that are vital for ensuring effective water committee management, these included community mobilization, financial management and technical training.

Water seminars present an opportunity for the different water committees to come together and share experiences and learn from one another. During the seminar participants were encouraged to actively engage in discussions, group work and presentations. In addition, local leaders and other stakeholders were also invited to the seminar to facilitate relationship building and community mobilization.

The seminar was a huge success, the organizers were met with extremely engaged and motivated participants. The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, they expressed how the opportunity allowed them to network and make friends, develop new skills, to share experiences and gain knowledge about project management. In their feedback, many of the participants suggested yearly water seminars. We are therefore happy to announce that Pharo Foundation has provided funding for three consecutive years. We look forward to next year’s water seminar and seeing how the committees are progressing as a result of such training sessions.


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fontes2016 Safe Water Seminar

Fontes Foundation’s newest board member

by fontes on 16/12/2016 No comments

Michael Pletscher, joined Fontes Foundation as an Intern in early 2013. As an intern, Michael demonstrated strong leadership skills and was known for his enthusiastic hands on approach. In addition, Michael adapted very quickly to the Ugandan lifestyle, in particular to the Ugandan food. As Regional Coordinator, Michael has ensured the technical quality of all activities in the implementation and management of Fontes’ safe water, education and youth programmes. His valuable contribution has increased fundraising efforts, community mobilisation and improved organisational structure.

As we weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to Michael and loose his knowledge and expertise, we were proud to invite Michael to be a Fontes Foundation board member. Michael’s extensive experience working closely on all of Fontes Foundation’s projects makes him the perfect candidate for providing advice and guidance for Fontes’ activities for hopefully years to come.

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

Michael with the other Fontes Foundation board members

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fontesFontes Foundation’s newest board member

How invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

by fontes on 09/12/2016 No comments

The Fontes Foundation team has just returned from a field trip in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where the main purpose of the trip was to conduct follow-ups in all of our water and education projects and hold a two-day water seminar for the Fontes water committees. The Fontes team observed how the water committees were taking charge and creating positive change in their water systems by showing a greater commitment to project maintenance, upscaling the water systems and coming up with innovative solutions to reoccurring problems.

Across all water projects, committees were improving their systems by ensuring regular maintenance. The committees weren’t just making small repairs, they were also undertaking more substantive maintenance. When a filter broke in Kazinga, the water committee raised money to buy and replace the broken parts. In both Kazinga and Kashaka the water committees have replaced broken doors at the tap stands and water meters. In Kiseyni, the committee brought in technical expertise to fix a broken intake cable. While the water committee in Katuguru-Kasese has put concrete around their intake for lasting stability.

The Fontes team was impressed by some of the water committees, who were taking initiative and upscaling their water systems. In Kisenyi, the water committee has installed an additional public tap stand to accommodate those people in the village who live further away from the two main public tap stands. They have plans to install another two public tap stands in the near future to ensure that the whole community has easy access to clean water. Katunguru-Kasese and Katunguru-Rubirizi are both continuing to install private connections. Kasese currently has 25 private connections. Such private connections and additional public tap stands provide the water committees with greater income and savings to better manage the systems and ensure the system’s sustainability.

Lastly, the water committees demonstrated their ability to implement innovative and preventable solutions to reoccurring problems. In Kisenyi, the water committee came up with an environmentally sustainable solution to animals destroying the fence that surrounds the water tanks. The committee has created a natural fence by planting trees. After loosing a technician, the water committee in Kashaka is providing technical training to multiple people in the community to ensure that information is never lost and that they can always find a quick replacement technician if needed. In Katunguru-Kasese the water committee is testing out a new type of tap that has a gate valve, in an attempt to stop leakages. Finally, to fix the problem of chemical shortages, all five water committees are considering buying chemicals together in bulk and storing them in Katunguru-Kasese, as it has the most accessible road. By buying in bulk together, all water committees will ensure that their water system will never suffer from chemical shortages again.

At Fontes, we believe that greater community participation in development projects leads to improved resource sustainability and quality of infrastructure. As the Fontes water committees actively invest in maintaining, improving and managing their water systems their communities will continue to benefit from the Fontes safe water projects for years to come.

The new 'gate valve' taps in Katunguru-Kasese

The new ‘gate valve’ taps in Katunguru-Kasese

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fontesHow invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

Gearing up for Employment

by fontes on 28/10/2016 No comments

As the current core course at Potentiam Youth Development Centre is coming to an end and the students are getting ready for their end of term exams and graduation, the centre provided them with one last week worth of capacity building sessions to ensure that they are ready to tackle all obstacles in their endeavour to find jobs or start their own businesses. During this week the students learnt the do’s and don’ts of interviews with Marianne Øhlckers from Laboremus, the opportunities available to them from group saving loans with Stromme Foundation and the difficult issue of how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace with the centre’s councillor, Jolly Nakibirango.

One of the hardest parts of getting a job is succeeding in the interview stage. Knowing how to present yourself, what to say/what not to say and how to prepare for an interview are all important issues that HR manager, Marianne Øhlckers, addressed in her capacity building session. Marianne, who has conducted numerous job interviews as an employer, provided the students with her valuable insights. After the session the students participated in role plays, practicing and perfecting the difficult and often asked questions during job interviews.

Finding a start-up loan for a first business is almost impossible for the youth of Uganda. Lucky for our students, Stromme Foundation took some time out of their busy schedule to inform the students about group management micro-finance. Stromme Foundation’s savings groups teach people to come together and manage their finances both as a group as well as individually. Along with creating a savings group, an individual is able to take out a loan from the group to use as a start-up fund for their business. The students learnt the value of maintaining patience, discipline and motivation when creating savings.

An issue that we hope no student will ever have to endure is one of sexual harassment in the workplace. However, if the unfortunate happens we wanted to ensure our students are equipped with the knowledge of how to deal with such an incident. Jolly Nakibirango, the centre’s councillor, informed the students about what constitutes sexual harassment, how to deal with it and the legal avenues available to them in Uganda. The session was followed with a group discussion where all the students engaged in the conversation and asked many questions. When asked to give feedback about the session the students expressed their appreciation for the talk and their new awareness.

– written by Rebekah Harvey

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fontesGearing up for Employment

Two Single Mothers, one Success Story

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

Scollah Tukwasibwe and Jenifer Nalimo, both former students of the Potentiam Youth Centre’s Single Mothers Programme (SMP) never imagined the powerful impact their participation would have on their livelihoods.

Former SMP participant Jenifer proudly presenting one among MAKULA group's creative and colourful products.

Former SMP participant Jenifer proudly presenting one among MAKULA group’s creative and colourful products.

Joining the programme accidentally, they acquired a lot of useful skills e.g. making jewellery, sandals, seat and bed covers as well as growing mushrooms. Inspired by those creative inputs, they gained enough self-confidence and the necessary skills to form the MAKULA group. Together, the members produce bags and jewellery. Owing to the holistic and hands-on teaching approach of the SMP, they did not only acquire the required craftsmanship skills for their business, they also learned how to become successful entrepreneurs with a low start-up budget.

In order to economize on production costs, the group developed creative design ideas, such as making use of different resource materials, as for instance paper, instead of solely relying on the rather costly beads. By carrying out their work from a member’s home, they found a way on how to circumvent the high rental costs for office spaces, so to be able to properly invest the money into those business activities, that need it the most. So far, MAKULA counts 42 full memberships, with 16 active members and it was able to accumulate a promising capital of 720,000 UGX (ca. 200 USD). The founders are very ambitious to further expand their initiative and make it their main source of income.

The two former participants are an encouraging example of the positive effects the SMP can have on individual livelihoods. Both of our former students testified that they are really grateful for the opportunity the SMP gave them. ‘Thank you Fontes Foundation Uganda for launching the SMP, because we single mothers have gained a lot from the training. It helped us to earn a small living’ (Jenifer Nalimo, 2015).

– written by Isaac Taremwa

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fontesTwo Single Mothers, one Success Story

Eye-opening Exchange Experiences

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

Through the Fredskorpset (FK) exchange, I have spent six months in Rwanda, learning and generating ideas from the Amizero Training Centre (AMITH). This experience made me not only grow on a professional, but also on a personal level.

I quickly realized that the Rwandan people are more reserved as compared to Ugandans. Life is less busy, which I appreciated a lot. I was able to dedicate time to self-study, which turned out to have a lasting impact on my life and the things I value. Learning from Rwanda’s history was an eye opener as well. It made me realize that despite all the bad things that may happen in the world, human beings have the potential to do good and change the destiny of their nation. Today, 22 years after the Genocide, Rwanda is thriving; its economy, infrastructure and government policies are strongly supported by their citizens.

Also on a professional level I have experienced various highlights. Since 99% of the staff was older than me, as opposed to my Ugandan staff, I needed to use a different motivational approach to ensure that my team worked favourably with me. Instead of targets and timelines it was mainly respect and appreciation that motivated the AMITH staff the most. During my first month, I underwent a training programme to manage the transition of AMITH from a Vocational Training Center to a Technical Secondary School. By being part of this process I got an in depth understanding on how emerging challenges need to be addressed to ensure a smooth transition. Being responsible for implementing a programme with one of the donor organizations was another highlight. I was able to understand the different aspects of monitoring and evaluation and the importance of effective data collection.

I feel that the FK exchange fulfilled my expectations and impacted me in a very positive way. I can now say that I am an evolving Surea, making a difference in the lives of those I meet because of the experiences I have had.

– written by Surea Njuki

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Enhancing Cooperation in the WASH Sector

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

From the 20th to the 23rd June 2016, Uganda was hosting the Kampala WASH Symposium, an international conference to improve the global development cooperation in the area of water, sanitation and hygiene with more than 200 participants from 27 countries and 5 continents. Within this framework, Fontes Foundation was welcoming participants of the symposium at an Open House event at our head office in Kampala. The visitors got introduced to the most important pillars of our water projects in form of an exhibition, including community involvement, monitoring and evaluation, implementation and maintenance as well as Fontes Foundation’s long-term commitment to its projects and beneficiaries. The Fontes Foundation staff was at the disposal of the visitors to give them more detailed information and to answer their vast amount of ques- tions.

Participating in the Kampala WASH Symposium and hosting this Open House event was a great opportunity for Fontes Foundation to interact with a large variety of stakeholders such as governments, civil society organizations, the private sector as well as academia, to increase the organization’s network and to establish new potential partnerships.

– written by Michael Pletscher

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fontesEnhancing Cooperation in the WASH Sector

Uniting Strengths for Prosperity

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

Installed in 2011, the Safe Water Project in Katunguru-Kasese is Fontes Foundation’s biggest water project, serving approximately 2,000 people. Due to the rapid population growth and the increased demand for safe drinking water resulting thereof, Fontes Foundation, with the generous support of Lions Club Oslo-Slemdal (Norway), carried out an extension of the current water system in January 2016.

The newly constructed second water tower with the elevated storage tank.

The newly constructed second water tower with the elevated storage tank.

To guarantee that the water pressure is high enough for further water system extensions in the village, an additional steel water tower has been constructed and connected to the old one, with the result that the whole water system is now on high-pressure connections. In addition, a second settlement tank has been installed to further increase the production capacity of the system.

Besides the installation of new hardware, the already existing water treatment container has been reworked by installing a proper iron sheet roof, fixing and cleaning up the inside and painting both the in- as well as the outside of the container. With this extension successfully put in place, the Katunguru- Kasese water committee will be able to cover the increasing water demand of the village in the future.

– written by Michael Pletscher

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fontesUniting Strengths for Prosperity

How Management, Solar Panels & Seasonal Conditions affect Profit

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

The urgent need for increased access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services has been a continuous issue on the global development agenda since years. Although promising developments have been achieved, such as the improved access to drinking water for 2.3 billion people between 1990 and 2012 (cf. GLASS Report 2014), the supply, especially in rural areas, is still inadequate. Fontes Foundation is addressing the problem of inadequate access to safe drinking water in rural southwestern Uganda since 2004.

To find out about our projects’ performances and obstacles, Katharina Stegelmann conducted a research study during three months. By analysing the project’s accountability and monthly reports of 2015 as well as by conducting interviews during the recent follow up in May 2016, she discover challenges regarding project management and data collection, but also revealed promising trends. According to the current committees, the challenges encountered are various and range from financial difficulties to problems related to the lack of knowledge, commitment and communication. Furthermore, the projects’ performances depend highly on the seasons. During the rainy season, water users tend to fetch rainwater for domestic purposes. While demand decreases within this period, the chemical usage increases as a higher amount of aluminium sulphate has to be added to purify the water.

Figure above: Comparison of annual accountability of the safe water projects in 2015. While the collected income highly depends on the season (the more it rains, the lower the income), the expenditures vary a lot due to fluctuation of maintenance costs. Demand de- creases during rainy season (as water users tend to fetch rain water), while the chemical us- age increases as technicians have to add more chemicals to purify the water.

Figure above: Comparison of annual accountability of the safe water projects in 2015. While the collected income highly depends on the season (the more it rains, the lower the income), the expenditures vary a lot due to fluctuation of maintenance costs. Demand de- creases during rainy season (as water users tend to fetch rain water), while the chemical us- age increases as technicians have to add more chemicals to purify the water.

A further challenge is the high demand for power, either from the grid or produced by solar panels. While the demand stays constant, the supply varies as power cuts occur or the energy produced by the solar system doesn’t meet the demand. Besides this, the research identified deficits in relation to data collection. The study revealed that monitoring tools (e.g. monthly report forms) need to be adjusted to the projects’ individual circumstances and the submission of the forms should be taken more serious by the water committees. Besides incompleteness and inaccuracy, caused by vague or neglected monthly reports, adequate accountability has been identified as a core challenge concerning data collection. To improve the monthly data submission and strengthen the management skills of the committee members, further capacity buildings are necessary. As all committees showed deficits within their general management, mostly caused by a lack of communication or the misplacement of important documents, this gap should be addressed by constant follow ups. Furthermore, the awareness within the community about the importance of chemicals, such as chlorine and aluminium sulphate needs to be strengthened. However, the recent capacity building on responsible chlorination, which was carried out in April 2016, has already widened the communities’ awareness.

One has to regard the fact that the five safe water projects are facing different circumstances in relation to their management, to the water source, which impacts the water quality as well as to their population size. These different conditions affect the project’s performances, which are dependent on internal (e.g. commitment of the committee, financial support by the community to maintain project) as well as external (e.g. water condition, donations from donors) factors. The research has clearly revealed that solar panels impact income, expenditures and profit. In the village of Kazinga for example, after having installed the solar panels, the project was able to increase the current revenues, balance the expenditures and make a profit within one year. This development is promising, nonetheless, the Kazinga project was reliant on power produced by generators, while the remaining two non-solar projects (Katunguru-Kasese & Katunguru-Rubirizi) have a power connection, which is more economical in their case.

To ensure a responsible and secure maintenance of our projects, Fontes Foundation will continue guiding and financially supporting the water committees, since their means are only sufficient for minor repairs, but not higher maintenance costs. As Fontes Foundation Uganda ‘envisions empowered communities, able to collaborate for the common good, develop themselves and realize their potential’ constant monitoring and evaluation plays a crucial role in discovering and addressing challenges, as well as ensuring sustainable development and community involvement.

-written by Katharina Stegelmann

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fontesHow Management, Solar Panels & Seasonal Conditions affect Profit