Just before they went on Christmas leave the staff of the Kasiisi Project in Uganda celebrated the end of a challenging but none-the-less successful year with balloons, roast goat, and cake. Post-Covid burgeoning class size, high drop out rates and the loss of two years of class time topped by an outbreak of Ebola impacted everyone, but despite these difficulties students and teachers worked hard to catch up!
We very much look forward to sharing a a terrific 2023 with you!
2022 has been a year of getting back on our feet. We are aware that we have not been the best communicators, but when a donor said they weren’t sure whether we were still in existence, we realized what a really bad job we have been doing! We have been working hard to kickstart many of our programs but that is no excuse for not keeping all of you who support them informed. We have now hired a “Media Mogul” to ensure that we will be posting regular BLOGS in 2023 and keeping you updated!
In Uganda, schools have slowly recovered from COVID shutdowns, although about 30% of children did not return after lockdown; lost to early marriage, the informal economy, and supporting their families. Just as schools climbed out of the COVID trench, however, Ebola struck in September and schools closed again. Luckily it seems that they have it under control and we cross our fingers for a successful 2023, uninterrupted by crises.
The war in Ukraine has driven prices for building materials sky high in Uganda and our costs for salaries and transport, always our biggest expense, have risen 10%. All this just at a time when two years of COVID neglect have left all schools with major infrastructure issues. We have been stretching every dollar to repair classrooms, build desks for a burgeoning school population and construct desperately needed latrines.
Our Annual Report will come out in January with lots of information on everything we have achieved this year in partnership with our communities to support schools, community health and the environment. Looking back on everything that we have done and what this past year has brought to us, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and also proud of what we have been able to accomplish, especially of the work of our Ugandan NGO - students, parents, community and research partners, and all of our many supporters! So, before 2023 is upon us, we want to acknowledge each of our community members and to share the story of our year - be on the look-out for our upcoming posts!
And of course, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any information.
We hope that you have a wonderful holiday season and a happy and healthy 2023!
We were honored and thrilled recently when the Disney Conservation Fund awarded our Bee Project with support for 2023 and 2024!!
Since 2020, we have been working with Citizen Scientist farmer-beekeepers who live along the border of Kibale National Park and who maintain apiaries that, in conjunction with trenches, intend to serve as natural barriers against elephant crop-raiding.
We gather data about honey bee health in order to try to understand whether these “bee fences” can be effective over the long term at maintaining good neighborly relations between the elephants (who are terrified of bees!) and the communities of subsistence farmers just outside of KNP. Thanks to Disney, we will continue gathering data about the bees while also expanding the project to collect survey data about elephant incursions. Our Bee Project Team, will begin tracking all incidents of elephant crop-raiding and interviewing affected farmers, both in areas protected by bee fences and in areas without them. With this information, we hope to gain more insight into just how successful are our fierce winged guards at keeping the peace!
We also have been working with Citizen Science beekeepers in a region more arid than the rainforest conditions of Kibale National Park, adjacent to Queen Elizabeth National Park. The QENP beekeepers are collecting the same kinds of information about bee health as the KNP beekeepers - ability to maintain healthy temperature and humidity using BroodMinder™ devices, data from physical hive checks (e.g., number of combs where the queen bee has laid brood eggs, number of combs where the bees have gathered and stored pollen, number of combs filled with honey, presence or absence of pests like ants or beetles). Our hope is that by collecting data from a more arid region, we can isolate the effects that rainfall may have on bee health - especially as rainfall seems to be increasing around KNP as a result of climate change.
We are so grateful to the Akron Zoo for supporting this expansion of our Bee Project into QENP and to the other amazing organizations who also support our Bee Project, the National Geographic Society, the Oklahoma City Zoo, and IDEA WILD!
The importance of The Kasiisi Project One Health initiative, Healthy Children: Healthy Chimps, has been recognized by the choice of Taylor Weary as the inaugural recipient of the Gregory D Bossart Memorial One Health Scholarship. Taylor, a PhD, DMV student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, received the scholarship for research focused on the interconnection between animals, people, plants, and their shared environment. in partnership with Ugandan colleagues this ground breaking research tracks transmission of potentially lethal respiratory viruses from children to chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, Taylor is responsible for laboratory analyses of clinical specimens collected from people and chimpanzees around the park.
Funded by the Arcus Foundation and the National Geographic Society, Healthy Children: Healthy Chimps is a collaborative project combining the skills and resources of the Kasiisi Project, The Kibale EcoHealth Project and the Kibale Chimpanzee Project aimed at clarifying transmission pathways of viruses of human origin that infect and kill great apes. In 2022 the project will be extended to two other chimpanzee and one mountain gorilla research site in Uganda
Bees on guard - tiny insects protect african elephants
Are you fascinated by bees? Do you love elephants? The Kasiisi Project Citizen Science project "Bees on Guard" contributes to the conservation of both these species around Kibale National Park, Uganda in partnership with local beekeeping co-operatives, the Busiriba Beekeeping and Conservation Association and Conservation to Coexist.
Elephants are magnificent and fascinating, but also enormously destructive, bringing them into frequent conflict with their human neighbors. When faced with the destruction of an entire maize crop, subsistence farmers, struggling to make ends meet, are not supporters of elephant conservation.
This is where bees come in. African honey bees, tiny as they are, have ferocious stings and elephants avoid them. When farmers string beehives along wires, forming "Bee Fences" to defend their fields, elephants look elsewhere for food. But in order to deter elephants bee colonies need to be strong and healthy, a challenge during the wet season.
Active apiaries require regular maintenance and dealing with bees fierce enough to drive off elephants requires the right equipment, with costs beyond the reach of these beekeepers. This is where you can help. You will be in great company. National Geographic, Akron Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo have all assisted us in getting this program off the ground, but now we need to reach more farmers.
We are running a GoFundMe campaign to raise the money needed to train and equip 15 more beekeeper associations so that their apiaries support healthy bee colonies, produce honey to supplement family incomes, and are active enough to save the lives of elephants.
If you wish to make your donation a gift we can help there too. Just e-mail us at email@example.com and we can send your recipient a card.
By the time that schools open again in January 2022, Ugandan children will have missed almost 2 years of class time due to the Covid pandemic. Students from more affluent families have had access to online learning, something not an option for impoverished rural families. Loss of education is detrimental for all children but those from marginalized societies like ours suffer most, with girls being the most impacted. Falling family incomes have forced children into the informal job market in large numbers, setting back attempts to end child labor by 20 years. Most will never return to school, and early marriage and teen pregnancy rates have ballooned. More than a third (35%) of our children polled said they were not interested in learning or had dropped out of school permanently.
Aware of this crisis and determined to to help keep families motivated about the benefits of education, as well as reducing students anxiety about returning to school, the Kasiisi Project and its Ugandan partner, The Kibale Forest Schools' Program, have undertaken to bring school work to children in their villages.
Thanks to a monumental effort by our staff, for 4 months, during heavy rains, 2,500 children in Grades 3-5 have received educational packs of pencils, crayons and paper and biweekly packets of school work produced by the Ugandan Government. Every month we print, collate, and bind 110,000 work sheets and distribute them using motorbike taxis, community leaders and village health teams to 2,500 children in 130 villages.
Every 2 weeks, work is collected, marked and returned to the students. Weekly story time on the local radio makes literature and comprehension available to another 20,000 children, and environmental workbooks, art and storytelling competitions and family history projects keep our conservation and health goals in everyone's minds. We hope that by January there will be no need for such an enormous undertaking but we will still be there to provide the support that the schools need as they begin the huge job of getting their students back on track.
We join with Ugandan parents, teachers and local government to express our enormous gratitude to the generous donors who made this critical but very expensive initiative possible.
If you are interested in supporting the initiative or any of our other programs you can do so through the donate page.
Teachers from Kasiisi Project schools were joined by our staff this week for their first COVID vaccinations. It is much too early to say that things are close to normal - as yet only 4 of 7 primary school classes are back in school, and it is going to take until the end of 2023 for children to catch up with missed lessons - but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to generous funding from you, the hard work and ingenuity of our staff and support from enthusiastic parents, we have managed to keep all our staff paid and most of our programs goin, even if it took some lateral thinking! One of the great strengths of the Kasiisi Project is that it invests in a wide-range of different projects giving us flexibility and an ability to think outside the box. Never an organization to turn down new opportunities, we have see the huge benefits of this holistic approach during the current crisis. By transferring skills between programs, prioritizing projects requiring less face to face contact and devising new ways to continue with funded activities we have so far weathered the storms of 2020. We pray we are almost out of the woods, but, even with future hurdles that may arise in the coming months, this year has taught us that we have the skills and strength to clear them.
In a Citizen Science Project funded by the National Geographic Society, Kasiisi Project staff are partnering with 7 groups of farmer/beekeepers around Kibale National Park to monitor the health of the wild African Honeybees colonizing 15 apiaries by assessing a colonies ability to maintain constant hive temperature and humidity.
We have made it through 2020 thanks to your support. Our staff are still employed, our programs intact and we are looking ahead with confidence to coming out the other side of this terrible epidemic energized and productive. But we still face critical funding challenges. Here is a chance to see your support for us matched.
If you have never given to us before through online donation platform Global Giving, here is an opportunity to see your first donation tripled if you make it between December 14th and 18th. This has to be your first donation to us via Global Giving and you have to commit to 4 monthly donations. After your fourth donation Global Giving will give us a 200% match of your first donation. Go to Global Giving for terms and conditions. Giving regularly is a great way to support us. The financial hit is less for you and knowing how much we have coming in allows us to plan better. Please consider this as an alternative way to support us, or even in addition to annual one-off donations. With only a 4-month commitment you can test it to see if it fits your giving needs.
Interested in Girls' issues? Donate to Project 2700 - Sanitary Pads Keep Ugandan Girls in School. Conservation more your thing? Then give to Project 44346 Developing the Next Generation of Conservationist.
And THANK YOU!!
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The Kasiisi Project is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Contributions to the Kasiisi Project are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. The Kasiisi Project's tax identification number is 54-2195079.