May 2016 Update: Delivered Water Pumps and a BUV
Tools For Hope, Inc. (TFH) is an IRS 501 C 3, tax exempt, corporation in the USA. Recently we formed Tools For Hope – Rwanda Ltd. in Rwanda to leverage government assistance there for our projects. That effort was met with immediate success. With the help of the Rwandan Agriculture Board (RAB), we are getting irrigation systems for $1,500.00 (US) per system for our farmer groups. Without that assistance, each irrigation system would have cost $3,000.00. The RAB help came because with such assistance the farmers become less dependent on the government. Also contributing to their decision to help us, the RAB knew from information it received from the local government that TFH continued to provide effective mentoring (through our employee Deo) to the two farmer groups that would receive the irrigation equipment. These irrigation systems will add significantly to their annual incomes.
TFH attended the annual Basic Utility Vehicle completion near Batavia, Ohio in April. Every year, since 2000, the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) hosts a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) competition among Midwestern colleges and universities. Because the BUV is designed to be used in a variety of locales without any infrastructure, the test vehicles must navigate a variety of different terrains, including an obstacle course, mud pit, mogul field, and an endurance track. The competing teams race on a 2.1 mile racetrack and each BUV has to carry three 55 gallon water jugs (approximately 1350 pounds of water) across the course. The BUV teams empty the water jugs into a nearby pond and reload them with water every third lap. This requires a pumping mechanism that is integral to the BUV design.
TFH is working with Doug Smith (PhD, PE) Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University to acquire Baylor’s BUV used in this year’s competition. Once the BUV is available, we will transport it to Rwanda for use by our two farming groups. Additionally, TFH is working with the School of Engineering of the University of Rwanda (UR) in Kigali to form a partnership between Baylor and UR to develop a production model of the BUV most suitable for Rwanda and its farming population.
Thank you all for the continued support of all our efforts and please continue to share our story with your friends and family. We have have had great success so far in 2016 and with your help we can reach our 2016 goals.
Tools For Hope, Inc. 2016 goals:
We have adopted an 80 / 20 goal for utilization of our finances i.e., 80% of the money we raise will go for direct assistance to the farmers; no more than 20% will be spent on TFH administrative support
We will provide loans to the farmers at very favorable / workable terms. These loan repayments help them establish their own credit worthiness for future commercial loans. The long-term goal is for them to be self-sustaining economically.
One of our goals for 2016 is to raise at least $25,000.00 from donations. Our priorities are:
$5000 – Salary and expenses for Deo, our employee in Rwanda
Deo provides ongoing agri-business mentoring and monitoring to our two farmer groups, he works to increase farmer incomes and, improve their agri-business skills
$3000 – TFH, Inc. administrative costs e.g., corporate filings, website maintenance, office supplies, etc.
$3000 – loans to our farmer groups to help them purchase irrigation systems
These pumps will dramatically and immediately increase crop yields and income
Irrigation water is now hand carried in 5-gallon containers to their fields and hand sprayed onto the crops
$6000 – A Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV), that can be purchased from a near-by country, which will provide numerous benefits e.g., transport of crops without high losses (resulting in a 25% income increase), transport of bulk fertilizers, pesticides, fuel, water, people, help power water pumps, etc. This will be provided under a micro-finance loan arrangement to the farmers.
$8000 – TFH travel to Rwanda to monitor work, maintain relationships, set new goals, and evaluate progress.
Additional funds if available would go for purchasing livestock e.g., cows and or pigs. With assistance from TFH, we may be able to increase the income levels of our two farmer groups by approximately 100% by the end of 2016.
Tools For Hope Trip to Rwanda:
On December 1, 2015, Tools For Hope, Inc. founders (Joram and Richard) traveled to Rwanda to gather information to help us assess conditions facing subsistence farmers in the Bugesera district of Rwanda’s Eastern Province. The trip lasted through December 18, 2015, with fourteen of those days in Rwanda studying the issues, meeting with farmers, government officials, church representatives, University of Kigali officials, and other non-governmental organization representatives. Our trip was successful in meeting its goals.
The Eastern Province of Rwanda is the largest, the most populous, and the least densely populated of Rwanda‘s five provinces. Created in early January 2006 as part of a government decentralization program that re-organized the country’s local government structures it has seven districts: Bugesera, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Ngoma, Kirehe, Nyagatare, and Rwamagana. The capital city of the Eastern Province is Rwamagana. The area has a higher average daytime temperature than the Rwandan average, and lower precipitation, which sometimes lead to droughts. The two groups of subsistence farmers with which we are currently working are located in the Bugesera district. Bugesera’s population in 2012 was 363,339 people.
The Twisungane Group
On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, we visited with the group of farmers called the Twisungane group (Twisungane meaning, “The United”). Twisungane is a younger group, founded in 2014. They, like the Umurava group, rent their land from the owners in the city. The Bugesera region of the country is close enough to the city of Kigali that many wealthier people have bought large parcels of land, some have even built their houses in anticipation for when the city of Kigali expands to this region, and this becomes a southern suburb of the city.
Fifteen members, eight of whom are women, make up the Twisungane group. They have been able to buy a few goats together and to pool their money to purchase pesticides. Twisungane has the common Rwandan problem of having to farm on a steep hill. Unlike their counterparts further in the country, they are not able to use terraces because they do not own the land and the landowners plan on building houses on it in the future.
Issues facing the Twisungane group are similar in many respects to those facing the Umurava group. The climate is generally very hot. Along with occasional droughts, they face floods that sometimes damage their newly planted crops. They also need machinery for crop irrigation and transport to market. In addition, this group faces a major problem with the lack of readily available drinking water.
The Twisungane group has set out several goals for its future. They plan to address the drought and flooding issues by building a nursery for their crops. They have plans for increasing their goat farming. Goats are relatively easy to maintain in their environment and provide the group with meat, milk products, and manure. They also plan to focus their attention on growing one primary crop for increased efficiency and to maximize their profits.
TFH Employee Deo Niyomugabo
Our employee, Deo, is our primary and on-going contact with the two farmer’s groups. Deo has a degree in Agri-business, and has very good interpersonal skills. He visits the groups one week each month. We hope to be able to increase his time with the groups as our financial situation strengthens. His goal and Tools For Hope Inc.’s primary goal is to increase the prosperity of the subsistence farmers.
His job in working with the two groups focuses on a few critical tasks. The first and most important task is to train the farmer’s to use more efficient and effective farming methods. Currently, they use only hoes, rakes, and pangas (machete type knives) and their use of pesticides and fertilizers is often counter-productive. His secondary tasks include helping the farmer groups act and think as agri-businesses. For example, they will need to keep basic business records to enable them to access reasonable loan facilities. Together, we have developed basic spreadsheets for the two groups to begin to track their income and expenses, and to encourage their savings (i.e. their own capital formation).
Networking In Rwanda
We had a few meetings with faculty at the University of Kigali. The most productive one centered on their assistance with developing a basic utility vehicle (BUV) for Rwandan farmers. Such assistance may encompass building, modifying the design, improving affordability and performance, monitoring the operation and maintenance of a BUV. Such a vehicle could help solve the problem of ruining 25% of crops while transporting the crops to market.
Meetings with government officials, both District and Federal (e.g. the Rwanda Development Board), went well. We secured the approval of our overall approach to assist subsistence farmers in Rwanda from both levels of government. We traveled with the mayor’s assistant to the southern end of the Eastern Province, near the border with Burundi, to assess farmer needs in that area. The primary needs of those farmers were similar to those of our two groups i.e., irrigation and transportation machinery, and modern farming methods.
Over a period of several days, we had four separate meetings with officials from the Kigali diocese of the Anglican Church in Rwanda. Our goal was for TFH to become a project within the diocese. This would help us become a legitimate non-governmental organization (NGO) and legally operate in Rwanda. We were unable to reach such an agreement with the diocese on this trip. However, as discussed next, we were able to secure the appropriate legal status for TFH to operate in Rwanda.
Tools For hope has secured a partnership with a local Rwandan NGO RASD (Regional Alliance for Sustainable Development). RASD’s goal is to establish and nurture sustainable programs in healthcare, operational research, capacity building, education, socio-economic, environment and rural infrastructure development to enhance relevant interventions through local, regional and international partnerships that encourage a culture of sustainable legacy for good governance and development.
RASD has agreed to provide TFH with office space as well as technical support for all upcoming projects. The CEO and Founder of RASD has known Joram for many years and is excited to see TFH finally take off. TFH also hope hopes to work with Dr. Eugene’s son, Deus, who is currently working as an agricultural field analyst.
Problems, Issues, and Actions
The problems we identified were not new or unknown to the governments or NGOs in Rwanda. There are several projects and programs currently ‘on the books’ to address these problems. However, the assistance proposed by the various processes does not appear to be getting to the subsistence farmers of Rwanda. The overall generic problem appears to be budget management within the programs in that the budgets appear to be expended on administrative issues rather than on direct aid to the farmers. Additionally, very few organizations have an employee who functions as Deo does in maintaining a constant, coaching presence with targeted groups of farmers.
We are beginning our formal assessment of the problems, issues, and potential corrective actions. In accordance with our model, we will make a summary statement of the overall or fundamental problem to be analyzed, the critical few issues making up the problem, and an analysis of each issue. Once that is complete to the best of our abilities, we will send the assessment to Deo and our other partners in Rwanda for their critiques. Our goal is a set of specific actions to help resolve the problems faced by the farmers in ways that are acceptable to all stakeholders (i.e. the farmers, the governments, etc.).