How Women Light the Way in Uganda

Around the world, 700 million people live without access to something none of us can live without – water.

Aveda and Global Greengrants Fund come together each April for Aveda Earth Month to protect clean water, raising money to support locally-led projects worldwide. As part of Earth Month, Aveda donates 100% of the purchase price of the Light the Way candles™ for water-related projects in 88 countries.

As a benefactor of Earth Month, the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative located in Gomba, Uganda has not only improved access to water for their community, but helped keep their kids in school, and aided women to launch sustainable businesses.

Here’s how:

In Gomba there is one source of water for the community: a borehole located three miles away, filled with contaminated water. Each day, women and children spend hours walking to the borehole, filling their buckets with water that leads to disease. These diseases keep kids out of school and families overwhelmed by hospital bills – and stuck in the cycle of poverty.

Knowing that something had to be done, Godliver Businge and Comfort Harja, founders of the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative, stepped up to help their community access clean water and prevent disease.

Godliver earned her degree in civil engineering, and as the only woman in her class, earned the highest marks. After years of work experience with East African community organizations, she brought her skills back to the Gomba community as the Head Technology Trainer of Uganda Women’s Water Initiative. Alongside other inspiring women leaders in the community, Godliver is a major contributor to the resounding success of the project.

Godliver educated women in the community on how to construct Biosand filters by layering sand, gravel, and stones of various textures inside containers. When water is poured into the filter, it trickles down through the layers of gravel, sand, and rock, removing 99 percent of bacteria.

And the end result?

School children in Gomba are healthier and are not as susceptible to diarrhea or typhoid, and school absenteeism has reduced by nearly two-thirds.

The money that schools used to spend on water and treating children for water-related diseases is now used to buy textbooks and other school supplies.

Over 300 women in Gomba have been trained to construct Biosand filters and rainwater harvesting tanks, as well as to lead Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene education programs in the community.

Over the past four years, the Global Greengrants Fund and Aveda partnership has awarded $9,500 to the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative. Since receiving their first grant in 2014 the group has kept the momentum going and continues to create positive, tangible results on the ground.

This year, 2018, the group received another grant, which they are using to build even more Biosand filters and train local women on small business trades, such as soapmaking and biointensive farming.

This continued support of the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative through Light the Way Candle™ sales has led to an expansion of sustainable livelihoods in Gomba.

Instead of taking time out of their day to walk to the borehole for water, local women now have time to engage in small scale entrepreneurial activities. They hand make and sell soaps which in turn boosts community hygiene, and they are growing and selling sustainably harvested, locally-grown produce to the people of Gomba.

What started as an initiative to bring clean water the community has blossomed into something even greater – local women stepping up and embracing leadership roles in their community.

Three women involved in the project were invited to take an active role in government affairs, and Godliver’s work was so noteworthy that UNESCO recognized her as a STEM woman on the frontlines of change last year.

And it all started with the sale of a $14 candle.

This incredible story of clean water and women’s leadership is just one example of the change that is made possible in communities around the world because of the partnership between Global Greengrants Fund and Aveda. 100% of proceeds from Light the Way Candles™ will support incredible clean water initiatives like the one mentioned above.

Feeling inspired? Celebrate Earth Month by purchasing a Light the Way candle™ and make a difference today.

Photos: Joel Lukhovi, Project Survival Media

Global Greengrants Fund

Global Greengrants Fund

Global Greengrants Fund believes solutions to environmental harm and social injustice come from people whose lives are most impacted. Every day, our global network of people on the frontlines and donors comes together to support communities to protect their ways of life and our planet. Because when local people have a say in the health of their food, water, and resources, they are forces for change.