An Ethical Plant-Based Environmental Initiative to Empower At-Risk Ugandans.
To our knowledge, Project Grow is unique in Uganda and the Podrska Foundation is well-placed to deliver it. The project will be initially delivered as a pilot project to ten households. After the pilot project it is our intention to extend the project to reach more people in the local communities who are at risk. The initial participants are from the slum district of Kiwunya in Kampala, Uganda. Residents of Kiwunya face many challenges. There are high illiteracy rates, poor housing conditions, overcrowding, water logging and poor sanitation. Many residents not only have health issues but are also without work and live in extreme poverty. As well as participants being given awareness of the widespread human exploitation of non-human animals and its profound consequences for the planet and its inhabitants there are three practical components to the project:
Organic waste recycling
Currently in the slums of Kampala there is a lack of knowledge of the benefits and processes involved in recycling organic waste. Most of the organic waste comes from food, plant waste and paper which ,rather than being composted, is currently dumped on the streets or in trenches along with non-organic waste. Apart from missing the opportunity to create a fertile compost, this approach to waste management impacts the community by creating unpleasant odours, encouraging unwanted rodents and insects (such as cockroaches) and blocking the movement of water which can stagnate and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. All of these consequences can have a negative impact on the residents’ health. All of the participants will be taught about the process and benefits of recycling organic waste and be given rodent-proof bins for organic waste collection. The resulting compost will then be used to provide an organic growing medium for future container gardens.
Vegetable container gardening
Currently, plant-based farming is scarce in Kampala’s urban slum areas. A shortage of land has led to the over cultivation of available land. The result has been soil erosion and poor soil fertility. Given the low productivity of the land, the potential for crop failure is a common concern. Furthermore, the slum areas tend to have too much water which does not support crop growth. However, by enabling the slum-dwellers to grow nutrient-rich vegetables in containers, we can address their food insecurities without exploiting either non-human animals or the environment. Five of the participating households will be given theoretical and practical training by a local company from Kampala that specializes in organic growing. They will also be provided with the materials to grow a selection of nutritional, crops such as spinach, which are suitable for container growing.
Residents of Kampala’s slum areas are mostly unemployed, which has a negative impact on many aspects of their lives such as their physical and mental wellbeing. As growing and selling mushrooms have recently been a popular means of generating income in Uganda, we are sure that our project’s participants will reap its economic benefits. For the pilot study, it is proposed that 5 households will be trained by an experienced mushroom grower and also given the means to grow mushrooms as a cash crop.
Project Grow is designed to be self-sustaining for participants. After the initial costs and training, participants should be able to afford the materials that will be needed to continue through the sale either of mushrooms or of any surplus vegetables. The growing medium for the container gardens will be eventually provided from the compost that is produced from the organic waste collected at the participants’ homes. By enabling the participants to acquire knowledge and practical experience regarding plant-based diets and natural cycles involved in crop production and the decomposition of organic waste, Project Grow will also promote sustainability for the environment as a whole.