1. Uganda: Turning trash into treasure (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly, in Kampala)

| March 16, 2009

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In the slums of Kasubi and Kawala, there are no designated areas for dumping garbage. The residents of these slums in Kampala, Uganda, are used to dumping garbage into water channels and in front of their doors. Food scraps, human waste, and other solid waste blocks water channels and rot in front of homes. Contaminated water leads to deaths from cholera, while mosquitoes are drawn to standing water and spread malaria.
Peelings from bananas, cassava and potato make up over 80 per cent of the garbage in the two slum areas. Damaris Namusoke has found a way to keep these scraps out of the gutters, and turn trash into treasure.

For three years now, Ms. Namusoke has been producing compost from food waste. She is part of an association called the Kasubi Local Development Initiative, which started collecting the garbage to make compost in 2007.

Ms. Namusoke and other women collect food scraps in plastic containers. Ms. Namusoke then digs a hole and fills it with the scraps. She covers the hole and leaves the scraps to decompose for three months. At the end of the three months, she has compost to sell to her neighbours and use in her own garden. During the dry season, she makes liquid compost from one part decomposed scraps and three parts water.

Through the initiative, Ms. Namusoke has been able to increase her household income. She earns around 20,000 Ugandan shillings a week (about 10 American dollars or 7.5 Euros) from selling the compost, and the same amount from selling vegetables grown with her own compost. She says that since she began producing compost, she can now use the money she would normally spend on buying vegetables to buy other household items like salt, sugar, and cooking oil.

But the benefits extend past Ms. Namusoke’s door. Since the women’s initiative started turning food scraps into compost, heaps of garbage no longer lay rotting. Rainwater can flow easily downstream. The hygiene in the area has greatly improved and the number of cases of waterborne disease has been drastically reduced.

A neighbouring village found a similar solution to their garbage problem. James Kiza is part of an association called Kawala Recycling and Manufacturing Group. For two years now, the group has made animal feed from food scraps. They collect the food peels, dry them, mill them, and pack them in sacks. The feed is sold to livestock farmers.

Mr. Kiza says keeping the environment clean is just one reason for the initiative. Another is the high cost of animal feed, such as maize bran, sold in local shops. A kilogram of feed made from food scraps sells for 200 Ugandan shillings ($0.01 American cents or 0.075 Euros cents) – half of the cost of maize bran.
Click here to see the notes to broadcasters on compost