You’ve probably seen the crazy cow and pig around campus for the past two weeks. Some of you may even know why we’re doing it. We are part of a team of 20 UEA students who are fundraising for a charity called Dig Deep. In case you’re wondering, yes, we have gone to the extreme of not showering throughout the 17 days of the challenge so far.
Photo: Marta Melkevik
Dig Deep is a small charity which serves rural communities in eastern Africa. Its main goal is to improve access to clean water and renewable energy, which in turn lead to improvements in infrastructure. By improving water quality and sanitation, environmental, social and economic development follows. For example, in Narok, a small town in south-west Kenya, Dig Deep, in co-operation with companies and NGOs in the area, has set up a biogas digester at a home for girls who seek rescue from female genital mutilation and arranged marriage. The home houses about 75 girls, and its main source of energy is charcoal. For the people who run this house, this charcoal is becoming increasingly expensive, but the biogas digester synthesises natural gas when manure is put into it. The outputs range from cooking gas to organic fertiliser.
There are several benefits to this, such as improved economy for the rescue home. They need to spend less money on charcoal, and the organic fertiliser is used by the home so that they can grow their own food in a garden. This also leads to a more varied diet for the girls which, in turn, improves their health.
By providing the biogas digester, firewood usage has also decreased. Firewood was used both for cooking and heating, and replacing it with gas has lead to a decrease in deforestation. This is a major environmental concern in Kenya.
Dig Deep works with a significant amount of primary and secondary schools in east Africa. One of the biggest challenges the school faces is absenteeism. A large portion of the students suffer from water-borne diseases such as typhoid and cholera. They all have to prioritise health over education, so many of the women and children spend the majority of their days walking to get water. By working in co-operation with local leaders to develop clean water access by literally digging deep, clean water is pumped up by solar and wind power. This effectively decreases the spread of disease, which increases the number of students enrolled.
This is the main reason why we have not showered for over two weeks. A typical shower of 15 minutes uses about 225 litres of water. By not showering, we have saved the same amount of water as one person drinks in almost 5 years.
If you want to donate for this cause, please see the links below. There is also a Facebook page with updates from every day throughout the challenge.