This blog is coming to you from a Jinja blanketed in darkness, with only the light from a few flickering candles and passing fireflies to light the way. No – it’s not a romantic night in with the S.A.L.V.E. interns, but time for another power cut. Like much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda is plagued with an unreliable electricity supply. This is something you get used to fairly quickly once you are living here and, after several futile attempts to predict when power cuts might occur, you resign yourself to the fact that it is liable to cut out at any time, and stock up on candles. ‘Load-shedding’ is something becomes an essential part of your vocabulary.
Lack of generating capacity, poor infrastructure and the sale of electricity to neighbouring countries all contribute to the problem, but on many occasions, the underlying reason is that the government has not had enough money to pay the power companies.
Not that we should complain too much: Jinja is right next to Owen Falls hydroelectric
station, the largest power station in Uganda, so the power here is (allegedly) more reliable than many parts of the country, including the capital Kampala. Many areas in the North don’t even have the luxury of being connected to the electricity grid, running everything off diesel generators.
For us a power cut might mean struggling to read by candlelight, or not being able to cook for an evening (one unlucky person has an electric stove in their house…). For S.A.L.V.E. the consequences can be more important: lack of power can mean we can’t access the accounts on the computer, or other documents which need to be printed. On a national level the consequences can be massive. Hospitals might be closed, factories shut , food left in storage. The economic impact is huge. As is the social unrest it can cause.
The balance of power
It’s just another example of how development in a country like Uganda can never be about a single issue. For the children S.A.L.V.E. works with, a successful future means being able to earn a living to support themselves, and their families. If no work is available, because companies won’t invest in an area where the factory may have to shut every other day, that becomes a whole lot harder. For those who are interested, there is an interesting series of articles on the subject of power in Uganda here on ugpulse.com.
Luckily, much of the work S.A.L.V.E. does isn’t reliant on power: our beautiful jewellery can still be made when the lights go off. Of course, if you want to buy some from our online store you will need electricity to access the inter-web. With just two and a half weeks until Christmas, you need to move fast if you’d like someone to open a stocking full of lovely S.A.L.V.E. goodies on Christmas morning.
Going Spotty for S.A.L.V.E.
While many of our community education projects are moving towards partial self-sustainability, S.A.L.V.E. still relies on donations to fund much of the work we do – from employing local staff to renting a space for our drop-in centre. So we’d like to say a massive thank you to Chistine Bourne and everyone at Savills in Salisbury who raised £45 for S.A.L.V.E. by wearing spotty clothes to work. This money has been spent on donations that will be winging their way to S.A.L.V.E. before Christmas. Savills have also agreed to match this figure with a donation directly to S.A.L.V.E.
If you’d like to help us fundraise and have a great idea, get in touch. Next year there’ll be a whole host opportunities to splash, sprint and shave for S.A.L.V.E. – though probably not at the same time!