Schools in Uganda face some challenges including lack of resources, teachers, and places for children to learn. These issues contribute to high dropout rates and lack of access to education in a country that has the second youngest population in the world.
Despite these challenges, the Kasiisi Project, founded in 1997 and located in and around Kibale National Park in rural western Uganda, continues to thrive by promoting programs which provide academic support alongside conservation, health, and early childhood education. The project’s initiatives highlight the importance of sustainability and teach care for the environment to the 10,000 primary school children attending the 14 schools supported by the project
Conservation programs include Wildlife Clubs, field trips, reforestation projects, a Clean Stove Project, and a new endeavor which uses methane from human waste to cook school meals for their porridge lunch program. The program provides lunch to more than 1,500 children in two schools who would otherwise go without food during their studies. To reduce costs and emissions from wood burning stoves, Kasiisi Project built a biogas digester beneath their latrines, which breaks down human waste, turning it into methane, carbon dioxide gas, and nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Elizabeth Ross, founder and director of the Kasiisi Project, noticed problems early on with the digester and observed that it performed better when cow dung and vegetable waste were added. Keeping conservation in mind, Ross reached out to a local field station within Kibale National Park and organized to have the waste delivered to the schools where it could be used to increase productivity. The initiative is seeing results but is still a work in progress. However, the most important thing to Ross is not how much gas it produces, but ensuring that the “children grow up seeing that there are alternatives and potentially useful new technologies for conservation.”