The village of Kanyamahene, or ‘where goats graze’ as the local villagers know the outpost, is in the Kisoro district in the South Western part of Uganda. Perched on steep hillsides in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the community of over 350 people struggled with extreme poverty, with households earning under $0.20 a day.
Poor access to healthcare has resulted in some of the highest birth-related mortality rates in the country. Located 15 km from the nearest hospital, the lack of adequate transportation and roads meant that the entire male population of the village would have to carry a person by stretcher over twisting mountain paths whenever a community member needed medical attention.
Water contamination further complicated life for community members. With the closest water source over 2 km away over steep terrain, the journey to collect a single 20 litre jerry can of water would typically take women between 4 and 6 hours. During the dry season, Kanyamahene’s population swells as nomadic Batwa people settle in the community in search of food and water, placing additional strain on the limited resources available in the village.
Opportunities for income generation were virtually non-existent. Part of the issue was that forest elephants would frequently raid farmers’ crops, eating several months’ worth of food for the entire village at a time. This not only put the village’s personal food supplies at risk, but it also destroyed any chance of selling any surplus of crops to markets and generating additional income within the community.
Project start date: Fall 2011
Water & Sanitation,
Agriculture & Food Security,