Category: Blog

Who ate all the donkeys?

On the difficulties of transporting solar equipment to remote places Working at Smart Villages, we are very fortunate to work in some incredible locations. One of the most stunning is Kasese district in western Uganda.  Located exactly along the equator, dominated by two national parks, and nestling in amongst the breath-taking Rwenzori mountains, the district …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/who-ate-all-the-donkeys/

Kiruru Maasai Business Incubation Hub

Kiruru sub-village is a small community in the Simanjiro District of Northern Tanzania, and the second of the chosen sites for our SICENT project. Roughly 10km via (very bad) mud road from Terat, the local centre (where our partner organisation OMASI is based), Kiruru is actually administratively part of Oiborkishu village, 7km to the north, …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/kiruru-maasai-business-incubation-hub/

The Service Value Test – what it is and why we use it

The Service Value Test (SVT for short) is a key tool in the Smart Villages approach that we like to use as early as possible in our conversations with communities we are looking to work with. We find it really helpful for the following reasons: It gets us quantitative preference data from community members telling …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/the-service-value-test-what-and-why/

Fairtrade Coffee at its Source in Uganda

It’s a long journey from a tiny bean growing in the mountains of Uganda to your first morning cup of coffee in the UK, nearly 7000km away. To learn more about this journey, some SVRG members visited a coffee processing facility funded by the Lutheran World Group near Kasese, Uganda in November, 2020. This facility …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/making-coffee/

Martin Kariongi, in his own words

As we remember our friend, Martin Saning’o Kariongi, who passed away this week from coronavirus, we wanted to collect together some of the material that we, and others, have on the internet featuring Martin talking about his work.

Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/martin-kariongi-in-his-own-words/

Martin Saning’o Kariongi – a life in brief

While looking through my notes this week hunting some site data for a community in Tanzania that we are working in jointly with our partners OMASI, I found – on the very first pages of my notebook – the notes from our first project meeting, where Martin gave us a little glimpse of his life …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/martin-saningo-kariongi-a-life-in-brief/

RIP Martin Kariongi, Director General of OMASI

People do not decide to become extraordinary. They decide to accomplish extraordinary things. Sir Edmund Hillary It is with great sadness that we have to share the news that Martin Kariongi, leader of our Tanzanian partner organisation OMASI, but more particularly our friend and colleague from Terrat, passed away in the morning of 1st March …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/martin-kariongi-director-general-of-omasi/

Removing Plastic from Kenya’s Rivers – Year 1 Report

It seems a long time since we were with our partners Chemolex in Nairobi in February of 2020, exploring different river sites for this project. The COVID lockdowns in both the UK and Kenya, and restrictions on international travel, have made progress much harder for us. It is with pride though, that we see the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/removing-plastic-from-kenyas-rivers-year-1-report/

Teaching with Limited Resources

As part of the Education Technology Project we ran in 2021, we worked closely with a local secondary school for running focus groups and user tests. It is eye-opening seeing the conditions the students live in, when you compare it with what we have in England. Most students live too far away to walk in …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/teaching-with-limited-resources/

Service Value Tests in Somaliland

As part of our project with Clear Sky Power and Energy Action Partners in Somaliland, we ran Service Value Tests (more here) in the three focus communities for the project. The aim was to help us get to know them a bit better, understand their needs and priorities, and so design the COMET toolkit to …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/service-value-tests-in-somaliland/

Language and Education Barriers in Community Engagement

The SVRG approach is grounded in community engagement and human centred design, to ensure the systems we install bring real, lasting benefit. Unfortunately, due to language barriers, we are unable to run focus groups ourselves, but rely on our in-country partners to assist with translation, or with running the entire group following training. Our translators …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/language-and-education-barriers-in-community-engagement/

Nov/Dec 2020 Trip Video – Uganda

A video showing some highlights from our most recent trip to Uganda, aiming to give you a flavour of our everyday work out on the field.

Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/nov-dec-2021-trip-video-uganda/

A Solar powered Electric Milling Machine

Milling machine

Many of the communities we work with are agricultural, with maize flour contributing to an integral part of their diet. In the rural Maasai Tanzanian communities we work with, villagers often have to travel miles to neighbouring towns to access a diesel milling machine. Once there, they can face long waiting periods for sufficient customers …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/a-solar-powered-electric-milling-machine/

Award-Winning Employees!

We’re pleased and immensely proud to announce that Natasha Wilson, one of our development engineers who joined in July 2020, has been awarded the Institute of Mechanical Engineer’s (IMechE) Scholarship Visionary Award 2020, for her drive to use engineering as tool for positive change and development. Here’s her acceptance video, filmed in Uganda on the …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/award-winning-employees/

A Personal Recount of Challenging Travel through Heavy Rains and Political Campaigns

Something we realised during our most recent trip to Uganda, is the importance of timing visits according to the seasons and political rallies. This personal recount is adapted from notes written during the trip: 19/11/2021 Just as we arrived in Kampala, we found out there’d been protests following the arrest of Bobi Wine, a presidential …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/a-personal-recount-of-challenging-travel-through-heavy-rains-and-political-campaigns/

Bucket-mounted Solar Systems

Solar panel systems can be expensive and time-consuming to build. They can require specialist knowledge to set up, and be difficult to maintain. In rural communities, it can make a huge difference if a solar panel system can be made simply and at a lower cost. That’s why Smart Villages is always on the lookout …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/bucket-mounted-solar-systems/

Grid extension in Tanzania

On our most recent trip to Tanzania, the number of half-fallen trees was quite noticeable. I thought nothing of it at first, even though several of them were lying across the roads. They could have been damaged in storms? That was until we realised that they were all under newly erected grid electricity lines. The …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/grid-extension-in-tanzania/

Rural Perceptions of Solar Power

Although our first solar installation in rural Tanzania has been having overwhelmingly positive reviews by the local community (powering the local water borehole, the first fridge in the local shop, and a small, efficient, electric milling-machine) we still have a hard time explaining the concept of solar power to some of our other target communities. …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/rural-perceptions-of-solar-power/

An Intro to Rural Tanzanian Schools

Trying to get a good education in the rural communities with which we work in Tanzania is a real challenge. With classes of 80 students, insufficient chairs, classrooms and equipment, no electricity or running water, lack of funds to buy textbooks, and some parents encouraging their children to fail the pre-secondary exams so they don’t …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/an-intro-to-rural-tanzanian-schools/

Sustainable Offgrid EdTech for the Developing World

This project is funded by InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency. In the communities in which SVRG works, improving education is a high priority. Rural schools are often overcrowded, difficult to reach, and poorly resourced. Teachers are poorly paid, resulting in high rates of absenteeism among teachers at government schools. Existing educational material (for example free …

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Permanent link to this article: https://e4sv.org/sustainable-offgrid-edtech-for-education-continuity-and-outcomes-in-the-developing-world/

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