RAVO: A School Transformed, an Environment Preserved

Posted on November 15th, 2017

In October, HYT completed its most recent project at the Refuge for Aids Victims & Orphans (RAVO), Mayuge. The project was funded by Peter Bond, a long term benefactor of the school and an old friend of HYT. Passionate about delivering water and sanitation to Uganda’s most vulnerable, Peter commissioned 5 new latrines and a washroom for RAVO.


RAVO new latrines

The school gathers to celebrate the opening of the new structure.


The new facilities will greatly raise hygiene standards at the school, whose 256 pupils previously shared just 5 small, dilapidated latrines. They are excited about the prospect of the new ventilated improved pit latrines (VIPs), which reduce odour and fly nuisances.



It’s a thumbs up from RAVO’s pupils!


This particular build, which provided 8 young masons with 2 months’ employment, is the latest in a series of projects at RAVO. Peter has previously partnered with HYT to provide the school with 2 dormitories, 2 water tanks and a kitchen.


RAVO Girl's Dormitory

The girls are clearly proud of their dormitory…


The improved living, drinking, cooking and washing facilities have enabled the school to support a far greater number of vulnerable pupils. Since their construction, the enrolment of boys in the boarding section has grown by 25%, while the number of girl boarders has seen a 33% increase!


RAVO Boys' Dormitory

… and so are the boys!


Every one of the HYT structures here has been built using the interlocking stabilised soil block (ISSB). This drastically reduces the environmental cost of construction, as these unique earth bricks do not need burning. Building with ISSB at RAVO has saved 11 tonnes of firewood (2 large, mature trees) and 66 MWh of embodied energy.


Latrines by RAVO Rocks

Thanks to the ISSB, RAVO’s stunning surroundings are still as green as before.


And that’s just the construction process! The kitchen’s energy saving stoves have halved the school’s monthly truckloads of firewood since their construction. That means fewer trees thrown into the fire, and much less smoke in the lungs of the caterers!


RAVO Kitchen

HYT’s bold energy-saving kitchen design (and an even bolder chicken)…


HYT is pleased to see individuals and communities alike embracing the revolutionary power of the ISSB. Our unique approach to training, local participation (at which RAVO excels) and sustainable construction is gaining ground across Uganda. A big HYT thank you goes to Peter Bond for his ongoing support, our building teams for their consistent hard work, and to RAVO for making us welcome, as ever!



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Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

Watch our exciting video, or check out our work at hytuganda.com

Make it Rain in Mabira: Strengthening Forests and their Communities

Posted on October 13th, 2017

Mabira Forest Water Collection

It’s a long walk through the forest to the nearest water source for these two brothers.


This week marked the beginning of HYT’s latest project, and one of its most exciting yet! The Trust has partnered with Mabira Forest Integrated Community Organisation (MAFICO) and Australian benefactor Bob Sayer, to carry out a project to benefit both the forest and its people.


Mabira Forest Foliage

‘Mabira’ means ‘forest of forests’ in local Luganda dialect.


Spanning over 30,000 ha, and with more than 200 tree species, Mabira is one of the last large blocks of moist semi-deciduous forest in central Uganda. Thanks to its rich array of wildlife, including the endangered Nahan’s partridge, it is classified as an Important Bird Area.


But the forest is under growing pressure from expanding industry, with cash crop cultivation replacing ancient vegetation and polluting waterways. Firewood extraction further impacts local wildlife, and disrupts vital ecosystem services such as water regulation, nutrient cycling and carbon storage.


Mabira Water Source

Surrounding communities suffer along with the forest, as water becomes increasingly polluted.


HYT is introducing Mabira’s forest communities to the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block (ISSB) which, unlike the widely used burnt brick, cures in the sun without the need for firewood. Local youths are getting to grips with the technology as they learn to build six 10,000 L rainwater harvesting tanks in regional schools. These make use of the forest’s abundant rainfall to give communities easy access to clean water.


The course is led by expert trainer Musa, who passed through the programme himself seven years ago. We joined him on a tour of the area to understand the current situation of its people.


Mabira Brick Kilns

Musa is proud to teach a sustainable alternative to these environmentally damaging fired bricks.


These kilns are used for making Uganda’s principal building material – the burnt brick. This involves firing clay from wetlands, which contributes to widespread degradation and threatens the habitats of species like the sitatunga and vulnerable shoebill.


Mabira Brick Makers

Until recently, the forest fragment to the right covered the entirety of this degraded wetland.


Each kiln of 10,000 bricks consumes fourteen tonnes of firewood, or three large, mature trees! The brick-makers we met here had sold their entire stack within a week. It is HYT’s mission to transform this lucrative business from an environmental disaster into a sustainable industry.


Mabira Trainee Irene

Irene is one of the new trainees, soon to become experienced in sustainable construction.


Last week, unemployed Irene Nakafeero was amused by the possibility of being selected to take part in construction in her village of Kizigo. However, she and two other trainees from the local area will soon become employable, environmentally-friendly builders as they learn alongside experienced HYT masons.


Mabira Kikube Primary School

Collecting water is a time-consuming and often dangerous task for the children of Mabira.


Within a few months of intensive training, the youths of the Mabira Forest region will gain vital skills to benefit both their communities and their environment. The water tanks will allow schools to collect water from regular rainfall, saving long trips to polluted water sources. They will also introduce the forest’s people to low impact building techniques, so that they can develop in harmony with, rather than at the expense of, Mabira forest.


You can keep up-to-date with Mabira and the rest of HYT’s work by following us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.









Winners of the Ashden International Award for Sustainable Buildings 2017.

Watch our exciting video, or check out our work at hytuganda.com