Kira Farm's Innovations and Technologies At Amigos we’re always looking for simple and creative ways to improve life. The environmentally friendly technologies below are just some of the practical devices the trainees learn about at Kira Farm. When they graduate and return to their villages these young people pass on the knowledge and skills they have acquired. SOLAR LAMPS On arrival at Kira Farm every student is given a solar light. Throughout their year at the Farm the trainees learn to appreciate this form of safe, environmentally-friendly, lighting. On graduation many students set up small businesses selling solar technology which is also a huge benefit to their communities. The impact: Homes are free from the fire-risk of kerosene lamps, families avoid inhaling toxic fumes, and a significant amount is saved on fuel. Business and homework can carry on in the evenings, after dark, meaning families have more money and children progress faster. FACT: Kerosene lamps produce toxic fumes which can lead to cataracts and lung cancer. SANITARY TOWELS Sanitary towels in Uganda cost the equivalent of a whole day's wage. Subsequently, girls are forced to opt for more traditional methods including bark-cloth (a rough plant fibre), toilet paper, and old newspapers. All three methods are unhygienic and expose girls to regular infections, as well as causing odour and discomfort. Above all, they leak and deter many girls from attending school. Kira's Tailoring department is producing reusable sanitary towels that have a lifespan of three years. They are hygienic, comfortable and made from recycled materials. The impact: Girls live free of infection and can attend school month-round so that they can reach their full potential. Kira saves £300 annually on student supplies. This is an inspirational project and a number of graduates have set up small businesses making and selling sanitary towels. MILKING GOATS Our breeding herd of Saanen/Toggenburg dairy goats are great for milk production and provide Kira trainees with a nutritious and cheaper alternative to cow’s milk. On the Farm we are working to break the cultural stigma against this hugely beneficial milk. The impact: Goats’ milk helps alleviate symptoms associated with stomach ulcers, eczema, respiratory problems and is great for all-round nutrition. As graduates return to their villages they are able to educate their communities on the virtues of this milk. NATURAL MEDICINE In Uganda there is around one doctor for every 20,000 people. Many of the trainees on Kira Farm come from isolated rural areas, where medicine is either unaffordable or unavailable. At the Farm we grow Moringa leaves, which are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A and C. These leaves could prevent the curse of malnutrition and related diseases throughout Uganda.Roselle which reduces blood pressure and hypertension and is a great source of Vitamin C. Comfrey leaves are grown to treat strains and sprains (as well as feed the chickens and goats), and Aloe Vera plants are used to treat small cuts and minor burns. In classes, students learn how to treat intestinal worms using the seeds of the Paw-Paw, a common fruit. The impact: Through promoting well-known, verified forms of herbal medicine students can make a difference to the health and well-being of their rural communities. Anyone can grow these plants. BEEKEEPING As part of the syllabus at Kira Farm we have an apiary for beekeeping. Hive products provide beekeepers with a source of income, honey, beeswax and a variety of products such as smokeless candles, polish, lip balm and hair gloss. Once set-up costs have been paid off, a beekeeper can expect to earn up to £750 per annum from a ten hive apiary. The impact: With an increased income beekeepers can feed their family sufficiently, pay school fees, buy medicine and much more. Honey provides nutrition and medicinal benefits such as boosting immune systems and fighting bacteria. WATER JARS Water shortage and drought are common in Uganda, so at Kira Farm we use water jars to capture rain water. The jars not only bring extra water to Kira, but the students are trained in building them so they can construct jars in their local communities. FACT: Ugandan children often spend a whole day at school without a drink because they don't have access to water. Dehydration affects brainpower - a loss of 2% body fluids causes a 20% reduction in physical and mental performance. ENERGY EFFICIENT STOVES It is estimated that if deforestation continues at the current rate, Uganda will have no trees left by 2050. As the population grows and the rate of deforestation accelerates, the walk for firewood grows further as surrounding village trees are chopped down. At Kira, students are educated about energy-efficient stoves that use far less wood. As they graduate they take their stove-building expertise back to their villages and improve lives. FACT: Energy efficient stoves use 50% less wood than a traditional three stone fire. BIO-SAND WATER FILTERS Amigos builds, and provides training in, innovative bio-sand water filters at Kira Farm. Water filters prevent the boiling of drinking water via wood and charcoal, which is adding to the demise of Uganda’s dwindling tree population as well as being a costly way of purifying water. FACT: Every day people risk their lives and health by drinking from contaminated sources. Filters result in a nearly 50% reduction in diarrhoea risk. PICS BAGS Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) bags are a low-cost way of storing harvests and protecting them from infestations such as weevils. A PICS bag consists of two layers of polyethylene bags, which are sealed and therefore airtight. These double bags are then surrounded by a third woven nylon bag to provide strength. FACT: PICS bags are hugely beneficial to smallholder farmers as they can be easily stored in family homes and used to protect harvests until they reach a high market value, allowing farmers to gain greater profits. Storage also provides communities with food reserves during the post-harvest season. MAIZE COB CHARCOAL Cob charcoal is easy to make and helps prevent deforestation. With a simple mini kiln and a few hours it's very easy to load the cobs into the kiln, seal it and let it cool for a few hours. Maize cob charcoal burns hot and cleanly. FACT: Cob charcoal is free! Most rural households simply throw their maize cobs away, this is a great way to make use of a waste product and save time and money. TIPPY TAPS Tippy taps are simple hand washing devices made from local materials. A small hole is drilled in a 5 litres jerrycan, the cap is filled with water and tipped using a stick and rope tied to the hole which is activated by your foot. This clever little design is super hygienic, as only as only the soap is touched with the hands. INTERLOCKING BRICKS Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block [ISSB] are a great alternative to the everyday fired brick method of building, which is devastating Uganda’s countryside. Not only is precious, fertile topsoil used to make traditional bricks, but also thousands of trees are being cut down to fire them. Compressed earth technology is both environmentally sustainable and economical, as there is little mortar used between courses and much less need for plastering. Just 2 parts of cement to 8 parts of subsoil are used, making these innovative bricks incredibly environmental. ISSB bricks have been proven to be 80% stronger than Uganda’s conventional clay bricks and up to 30% cheaper than convention building techniques PLASTIC BOTTLE CONSTRUCTION Construction with plastic bottles is low-cost and eco-friendly. Sadly, plastic bottles are unlimited these days and are responsible for a large portion of the waste that forms greenhouse gasses all around the world. The reuse of plastic bottles is a more efficient solution than recycling. The benefits are many: the source of building material is local and the carbon footprint is reduced, plastic bottles are inexpensive and the technology is small and easy to implement.