Summer Updates 2 – Nutrition, Health and the School Farm

Brennan’s study subjects at Kasiisi wearing belt computers at lunch
Weighing at Kigarama
Upper-arm circumference at Kasiisi
Dietary recall questionnaires at Kyanyawara
Presenting results at Kiko

The summer of 2011 also saw lots of activity in our nutrition and health projects and we are happy to announce that we now have promising evidence that The Kasiisi Project  lunch program, funded by our UK partner The Kasiisi Porridge Project, is having the impact that we want to see. There is good evidence from many studies that the persistence of childhood hunger and malnutrition is a major factor in poor academic achievement in developing countries. Our lunch program currently provides lunch to 1200 children at 2 of our schools, Kasiisi and Kanyawara. Preliminary data from Ugandan Ph.D student Miriam Kanyago, whose research was partially funded by the Kasiisi Project, show that the lunch program has resulted in increased enrollment, particularly of girls,  evidence of a steeper decline in dropout rates and given a high enough quality of food taller, fatter children. This summer Harvard student Brennan Vail, working on her honor’s thesis, compared energy levels in children from schools receiving lunch with those from control schools. Children wore small computers on their belts through the school day and early results show that those eating school lunch had over 20% higher energy levels than those who did not. Brennan finished up her time in Uganda by presenting her preliminary results on the importance of eating lunch to the schools and has given a boost to our hope that we will be able to expand the program both to include the younger children who currently leave at midday, perhaps with a mid-morning snack, and also all students at 3 more schools.
Thanks to the generous donation of a water purifier from Water For the World we are now able to provide clean drinking water for all children at Kasiisi Primary School using a car battery and cooking salt. The purifier is able to treat a 500L rain barrel of water in a few hours.

Testing the water purifier

Our next goal is to raise the money to install similar purifiers at 4 more schools and  at our school farm and also to provide clean drinking water to the communities around our schools and farm.

 

Construction begins at the Kasiisi Project farm
Native Ugandan trees
Tree Planting on the farm
Architects plans for Kasiisi Project Far

As a part of realizing our dream of a self supporting school feeding program able to cater for 4000 children in 5 schools we are busy with the initial stages of developing our first school farm. Volunteer architects Matt Parker and Rob Mawson from the UK spent 6 weeks in Uganda  producing the plans for a farm that would fulfill all our requirements. Working with a Ugandan builder and our new farm manager they assessed local needs, developed a business plan with assistant Field Director and Business School Graduate, Koojo Mathew, built temporary structures and  designed our dream farm,  complete with an education center, an Eco-camp site for tourists, pigs, hens, cows, arable crops,  fruit trees and bees. Although it will be many years before the farm is at peak production we now have a wonderful template to work from. As a first step kind volunteers turned out and began planting a bank of fast growing indigenous Ugandan trees which will form a boundary along the southern boundary of the 20 acre plot. Matt and Rob will return to Uganda at regular intervals to make sure that the development of the farm is on track. We are hugely grateful for their energy and passion and the enormous amounts of hard work they have given to the project.

Lucy and Michelle

Harvard student Michelle Sirois and school nurse Kabajansi Lucy worked together to plan a new health education program. Designed to provide enrichment activities that will support the national health curriculum, this new program will provide a lesson every term for every grade and includes basic health and nutrition information reinforced by games and fun activities.

Nutrition Wheel to be printed on canvas with stick on Ugandan food items to teach about food groups
 
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