Two relatively modest grants of 320 (approximately £215) each will produce a great return on investment for communities in the west African country of Guinea, thanks to the initiative of BMS World Mission partners.
The grants will support two separate projects, one using bicycles to make a long-term impact on living standards and the other turning pigsties into healthier profits.
BMS partners, the Protestant Church in Macenta, have initiated a development project that aims to change the lives of at least 100 families within a generation.
Five local rural development advisors have been assigned 20 villages each and have been collecting information about their living standards.
Information such as the state of buildings, diet, access to water, disease and employment is being collected with a view to allowing local communities to set their own development agenda.
So far the study has revealed that only four per cent of families polled have access to water in their own village. Once all the information is collected, BMS will be able to assist in addressing some of the most pressing problems.
The project will not, however, rely entirely on BMS funding, as 35 per cent will be funded by the communities themselves, providing a real sense of local ownership. The initial BMS grant has paid for five bicycles for the development advisors and will enable each of them to travel up to 15 km to more outlying areas.
Another 320 grant has helped to build a pigsty in Macenta. Jean Koeuogui used to house his pigs in an enclosure tacked on to the back of his house. As a result the mud-brick walls of his house had absorbed much of the pigs' waste and made his home unsanitary (not to mention unpleasant) to live in.
Through the BMS grant, Jean and a co-operative of other pig-farmers from his area were able to build a sturdy pigsty bordering on his rice-paddies.
The pigs' waste is now used to fertilise his rice crop and the co-operative, all of whom contributed a sheet of roofing metal and a bag of cement to the project, will use the expertise gained in the project (as well as some of the shared profits in the future) to help each other build similar new-model pigsties.
Andrew North, BMS Regional Secretary for Africa, said of the grants: "Development aid need not be expensive to be effective.
"These projects are some of the most exciting I have seen, because they are African-led initiatives, community-owned and administered, rather than imposed from the West.
"The return on investment for these communities is going to be important and is likely to span decades."
He called the grants "excellent value for money," saying, "I haven't often seen £200 better spent."
[Source: BMS World Mission]
Pigs and Bicycles Reversing Poverty in Guinea
Grants from BMS World Mission partners are helping people in the African country of Guinea raise their living standards with bicycles and pigs.
Published 21 July 2007