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Wirral family's charity helps fight starvation
3:08pm Monday 29th October 2012 in News
A Wirral family’s trailblazing initiative in helping to preserve life-saving rainwater for Uganda’s poorest people has developed into a charity with volunteers from across the UK.
Former Capenhurst project engineering manager Keith Wylde learned of the harsh environment faced by the Ugandan people when his daughter Kate Herod returned home after working in Africa with the Red Cross.
Keith, from Wallasey, said: “Kate told us that people were dying out there through lack of food caused by unpredictable rain patterns.
“On television we see terrible pictures of famine in Ethiopia, but in Uganda starvation is caused by local famine. Crops can flourish in one area and fail in another and there is no infrastructure to get food from one place to another.
“We designed a system of tanks to hold 1500 litres of water which could be built with local mud bricks. We concentrate on homes with grass of papyrus roofs, where the poorest people live. The water flows from the roofs into the tanks and this will help to sustain them during the dry season.
So far the charity DRIP – Direct Rainwater Intervention Project – has built around 370 water tanks. As each home caters for eight to 10 people the initiative has helped to improve the quality of life around 3,700 Ugandans.
The tanks are covered with cement lids to keep out the mosquitoes that breed in static water.
The African families are also given horticultural training on the proper planting of seeds, composting and the preservation of seeds for the following season.
Said Keith, 61: “They become self sufficient for as long as the tanks last. We take 10-15 volunteers out every year and we manage to build between 50-70 new tanks.”
Keith and his wife Carole are trustees of DRIP along with Kate and her husband Dr Andrew Herod. Kate will accompany a group of volunteers to Uganda for further work next April. Keith will join a similar trip in September.
He said: “We stay in African mud huts and we cook on charcoal-burning stoves..
“We have developed a knowledge of local whose flowers can be boiled down to make a sort of pesticide which is flicked onto the plants to kill off pests.”
The charity has around 70 active volunteers , many from Wirral, Merseyside and Chester, but there are also members from as far away as Cornwall, Yorkshire and London. One volunteer’s home address is in Barcelona.
The majority of helpers are in their 20’s and 30’s but many are either in their teens or drawing their pensions.