CAIF 2024 — Tackling Solar, Biogas, and Animal Health Challenges in Nyakayonjo Village of Mbarara District of South West Uganda

Now over a month into their fellowship in Uganda, the Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship 2024 fellows have formed their 3 groups, collected initial data, and started to dive into their focus projects on Bio Gas, Solar Energy, and Animal Health/Agriculture and Food Systems. Here’s an overview of the groups’ problem statements, idea generations, and initial evaluations.

Optimus Lumina, founded by Ishan Sharma, Gloria Kataike, Vitoria Houston, Anna Joy Aylward Burgess, and Mugasha Orleans, will focus on clean tech and solar energy. Upon community outreach, they found that all are farmers within the Nakayojo community, many of them being grape farmers who also have banana plantations.

To yield a good crop of grapes, there needs to be around 600mm of rain. However, it is hard to have plentiful access to water especially in the dry seasons, making it difficult to gain more income. Including irrigation with solar would ensure better access to water, helping mitigate these challenges.

Optimus Lumina is on a mission to expand and optimize the use of solar systems among 10% of the farmers within the Nyakayojo region to improve their economic development score by 30%, by the end of the fellowship in August. Thus, their core solution of a portable tap! The portable tap is a modular solar pump system that consists of a solar panel, a charge controller, a pump, and a hose. The system is to be packaged to be portable where the hose can be rolled out up to the farm where it is connected to a tap, allowing the water to be fetched in watering cans for the crops.

Tackling the challenges of agriculture, food systems, and animal health, is Enyana Health, led by Gabriel Jabile, Kirabo Ann Mary, Ronnie Lukuzen, Amelia Nantenza, and Joanitah Bamukunda.

Nyakayonjo, a subcounty in Mbarara District of Uganda, significantly contributes to the country’s agricultural produce, including both livestock and crops. However, its remote location means farmers have limited access to essential services and information to improve their yield. 64% of the livestock farmers we sampled still face a problem of access to veterinary services and knowledge which has significantly reduced milk production for cattle farmers, infant mortality and massive death of these animals at a higher extent.

Therefore, Enyana Health is on a mission to increase access to resources, knowledge, and vet services, for rural livestock farmers in the Nyakayojo community with Amatuungo Aid. Amatuungo Aid is a digital triage system that fills in the farmer’s livestock knowledge gaps, has Point of Care Diseases Diagnosis attachment, and connects farmers to vets as needed. Amatuungo Aid will use USSD technology, which is the same technology as Airtel and MTN, and will be a special diagnosis phone attachment.

Last but not least, BioG, spearheaded by Benjamin Pyun, Elena Sales, Fortunate Mugabe, Louise Foglia, and Prince Archimedes, is focusing on clean tech and biogas. Upon initial research in the communities, they found that the cost of installing one biodigester is between UGX 1,500,000 – UGX 2,500,000. The installed digester is inefficient, , methane gas being produced is insufficient to cook a meal with only 4 hours of a cooking time, this fails to fulfill the daily needs of the community, and that biogas is currently only being used for boiling water.

Thus, BioG is on a mission to reduce the upfront cost of the biogas digester to 500,000 shillings (as opposed to the 1.5 mil to 2 mil price point of the fixed domes). They are also seeking to optimize efficiency by 10% by including a mixing mechanism to the biogas digester, amongst other things. By the end of August, they hope to have the community gain a better understanding of how biogas digesters work by including pressure, temperature, and gas composition sensors that will display info to the users.

Up next for the CAIF fellows is prototyping to see if their ideas work in practice, and we are so excited to see the impacts of their projects on the ground!

The Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship 2024 is a groundbreaking initiative that showcases the power of cross-continental collaboration and innovation. As the Fellows embark on this transformative journey, we invite you to follow their progress and join us in supporting their endeavors. Stay tuned for updates on the CAIF 2024 programme and witness the impact these brilliant young minds will create.

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