Posted on November 28th, 2018
The Diffusion of Innovation theory aims to explain how, why and at what rate innovations spread through a population. First published in 1962 by Everett Rogers, it highlights key elements that influence the spread of a technology.
The technology itself, in this case, Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB). Potential adopters will evaluate ISSB on its relative advantage, its compatibility with existing practices, its difficulty or complexity to adopt, its trialability and its observed effects.
ISSB, as an innovation, is very attractive to potential adopters based on the above criteria. In Uganda’s current environmental and social landscape, the need for a simple, cost-effective, environmentally friendly construction material is high.
In order for a potential adopter to consider a technology, first, they must be made aware of it.
Diffusion of innovation deals in the currency of information, how does information pass from person to person or organisation to organisation?
Explained verbally, HYT has met a certain resistance when describing blocks pressed from soil. People want their houses, schools and hospitals made of brick and mortar, not soil! It is only when they see an ISSB structure or feel a block that they understand that ISSB is far from a mud hut. Each ISSB structure acts as an advocate for the technology.
Refers to the external factors that may affect a potential adopters’ decision e.g. the media, government organisation or pressure from cultural norms.
HYT has historically worked with schools as there is an urgent need to increase Uganda’s educational capacity. The social system surrounding schools is complex. It involves teachers, parents, government and often NGO funders. Within the system, each group has opinions and different levels of influence in the decision to adopt or reject a technology.
Schools are often at the heart of a community: every parent is emotionally, sometimes financially, invested. Structures in schools are able to communicate the positive message of ISSB to entire communities.
The forementioned resistance to using soil in construction is a symptom of the cultural pressure to move away from mud huts towards brick and mortar. For 10 years, HYT has operated in this cultural system, our work speaks for itself and has left a wake of ISSB enthusiasts where sceptics once stood.
More recently, HYT has been exploring ISSB applications in refugee settlements. A complex system of government and non-government parties orchestrate development in refugee settlements. One of HYT’s objectives with our showcase project is to demonstrate the benefits of ISSB to these influential parties.
HYT’s success at the 2017 Ashden Awards gave HYT the platform to share ISSB technology with an international audience. The prestigious award has given the organisation a huge amount of credibility and lets larger NGO’s, government bodies and individuals know that HYT and ISSB are worth investing in.
Everett borrowed the term critical mass from nuclear physics. In this context critical mass occurs when there is a sufficient number of adopters in a population that further adoption becomes self-sustaining. Helped by our progressive partners and generous donors, HYT continues to nudge ISSB technology along the adoption curve towards critical mass.
Posted on October 23rd, 2018
Work has begun at HYT’s latest 1V project! In preparation for our Ground-Breaking event -30/10/18 – we caught up with Florence, the Headteacher, to learn more about Kawolo’s history and understand the challenges faced by the school.
The school was founded in 1945 by the Church of Uganda, originally as a kindergarten. In 1958, the London born Arch-bishop of Uganda, Leslie Brown was passing on the Kampala-Jinja highway and noticed the little school. A recent storm had torn the roofing from the make shift classrooms, the Arch-bishop took a shine to the school and funded the construction of permeant structures.
The classroom block, staff accommodation and church; built by the Arch-bishop 60 years ago are still standing strong. Over time, however, in line with Uganda’s population growth, the school has outgrown the infrastructure gifted to it, all those years ago.
More recently, the school is government aided under the Universal Primary Education initiative, awarding the school 2.8m UGX ($750) annually. This leaves little in the budget for school improvements or expansion.
The 220 pupils, ages 3-14, attending the school are crammed into a building designed for 4 classrooms. Classrooms are partitioned with wooden panels to accommodate two year groups in each room.
One of the greatest challenges faced by the school is the proximity to the Kampala-Jinja Highway. The road is the main trading route through landlocked Uganda, commercial and private vehicles speed past the school 24/7.
The road is a dangerous place, children are vulnerable to traffic accidents and abductions on their commute. In response to this danger Florence began accepting boarders in 2015, children walking long distances or through sugar plantations were welcomed to stay full time.
With a lack of funding, the school was unable to construct boarding facilities. The Headmistress and five teachers gave up their onsite accommodation which now serves as makeshift boarding houses.
Kawolo’s improvised boarding facilities have allowed the school to roll out a new initiative designed to help children with unstable or abusive home lives. Currently, 3 girls and 2 boys board full time at the school free of charge. Florence believes the program has kept children enrolled in school that otherwise would have dropped out.
The future looks bright at Kawolo Primary school, a recent WASH project carried out by World Vision installed two 20,000L water tanks and a shiny new Latrine with hand washing facilities. HYT now has personnel on the ground, ready to bring sustainable construction to a school that thoroughly deserves it.
School staff, the community and pupils have been wonderful in the early stages of the project. Although they had never heard of ISSB, they all share our concern for Uganda’s forest and welcome the new technology with enthusiastic curiosity.
First on the agenda: A two classroom block which will accommodate years 6 and 7. This will allow the lower years to spread out through the existing buildings.
HYT invites any interested party to visit the site to learn more about ISSB technology and HYT. The Ground-Breadking ceremony will occur on 30/10/2018, please email office@HYTuganda.com to confirm your attendance.