The greatest wasted resource in Africa?

Anybody who has read the extraordinary book, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond will know that the big breakthroughs in civilisations came in agriculturally rich areas, where people could grow food easily, so not everyone had to spend all day, everyday, growing, collecting or hunting for food. People were released to do other important stuff: like learn and think; and invent; and drum up ways to make an income. This is a major reason why some countries are developed and others less so.

I was thinking about this the other day, when I met Monica, a Heya! agent in Kakamega. Monica – the woman on the right in the picture above – is one of those women that make Africa work. The continent is basically held together by them… from top to bottom. She’s super smart; very entrepreneurial; big on integrity; and works tirelessly for her family and community.

My colleagues asked Monica – and other agents that had joined us for a training day – what products they would like Heya! to sell. And this is what she said,

“We need water collection tanks. We are preparing for climate change. We have so much water falling on our roofs that we are not collecting. And these women (she waves her arm across the room) spend 5-6 hours per day collecting water from the river.”

Astonishing. The loss of productive potential because these women – or their daughters (and it’s mainly their daughters) – are having to collect water is an extraordinary drain on this continent’s ability to progress. To study. To stop and think. To invest in business ideas. Hell, to put their feet up and have a rest once in a while.

Water tanks are available in every town in Africa. But the families that Heya! is here to serve don’t have the cash to buy them; and they have no access to credit. So water tanks it will be. Heya! is making plans to add these products to our range to be sold in affordable instalments, of course.

Picture credit: Angaza Designs





Published by

Steve A

Founder and CEO of NewLight Africa

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