International Women’s Day

Posted on March 3rd, 2021


The women at the forefront of climate-friendly construction in Africa’s refugee settlements.

International award-winning charity, HYT Uganda marks International Women’s Day by celebrating the women in Uganda who are at the leading edge of sustainable innovation. 

Educating girls is central to breaking the cycle of poverty in developing countries. In Uganda’s urban hubs women are advancing their cause in equality of education and opportunity. There is still work to be done, however, in rural areas and in the vast refugee settlements in the north and west of the country. Here women are expected to marry young, have large families, and give any money they make selling surplus crops to their husbands, fathers, or brothers. 

Construction is a male-dominated industry and this, together with Uganda’s patriarchal society, makes it rare to see women on building sites. The Uganda-based charity, however, is changing all this and an increasing number of women are joining the Ashden Award-Winning charity’s  environmentally-friendly construction and training programmes. The results have been impressive.

HYT training allows women to access jobs in Uganda’s booming construction industry

As part of International NGO, Mercy Corps BRIDGE project, refugee Florence Ropani, was one of  HYT’s first cohort of refugee trainees in 2019, having fled her home in South Sudan three years earlier. Florence and her two children, aged 4 and 7, were separated from Florence’s husband during their final days in South Sudan and she has had no contact with him since.  On completing her training, Florence was employed on a Mercy Corps building project in Bidi Bidi, Africa’s largest settlement and home to 240,000 refugees. Soon afterwards, Florence joined HYT in a full-time training role herself, helping train more refugees in the sustainable construction of rainwater harvesting tanks, supplying refugee schools with clean water, using HYT’s innovative compressed earth technology, the Interlocking Stabilised Soil Block.

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Florence has become a key member of HYT’s work in northern Uganda, promoting sustainable development in the refugee settlements

Florence says, ‘HYT helped me a lot, the skills allow me to raise an income. I am now able to buy clothes for the children, change the diet at home and even buy bedding. What I lost in South Sudan I am able to regain some here.’

Rose constructing an environmentally-friendly rainwater tank

At the age of 17, South Sudenese refugee Rose Ropani was forced to leave her home town of Morobo with her parents and three year old daughter. Rose’s husband was caught up in the fighting, the two were separated and Rose is unsure whether or not her husband is still alive. 

Arriving in Bidi Bidi in 2016, Rose first volunteered as a child protection volunteer for refugee children. In 2020, Rose was encouraged to join HYT’s training programme by her friend and recent ‘graduate,’ Florence. The pair worked together installing 10 rainwater harvesting tanks in schools and health centres across Bidi Bidi.

Since her training, Rose has been recruited by the UN refugee agency and now works as a mason on a large construction project in the settlement.

Florence, Rose and Jackeline on Graduation day

‘I enjoyed learning how to make climate-friendly  blocks, how to mix mortar and use cement,’ Rose says. ‘The money from my construction jobs has allowed me to buy clothes and medicine for my daughter. I’ve been able to change the diet of my family so we no longer rely only on the World Food Programme. My parents are proud of me for working and I hope my daughter will be too.’ 

HYT’s female trainees and graduates have helped build four of these impressive classrooms in Kyaka II refugee settlement

These pioneering women builders take their lead from HYT’s Country Manager, Mauricia Nambatya, herself a civil engineer and Commonwealth Scholar. Mauricia has been impressed with the successes of her latest recruits.

‘HYT’s women trainees put an extra focus on learning the art of sustainable construction, overcoming societal perceptions and bring an impressive attention to detail to their work as builders and trainers,’ Mauricia says. ‘The women are determined to overcome the odds in the construction industry.’ 

Mauricia leads a technical discussion on site

Keep up-to-date with 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

HYT brings affordable rainwater harvesting to Bidi Bidi refugee settlement.

Posted on February 2nd, 2021


HYT has built ten 20,000 litre rainwater harvesting tanks in the world’s second largest refugee settlement. The tanks will service over 22,000 teachers, students, doctors, nurses and patients.

Access to safe water on site keeps kids in school instead of collecting water.

During our 2019 partnership with Mercy Corps it became clear there was a need to increase water access and security. Despite the area receiving 9 months of heavy rain a year, residents struggle for water. The daily per capita supply can fall below 10 litres. In the settlement the piped water runs for a couple hours each day delivering safe water through shared taps.

Women and children wait for hours each day to collect water from communal taps

Rainwater harvesting has huge potential to improve access to water. A single HYT rainwater harvesting system in Bidi Bidi can supply up to 240,000 litres of safe water per year.

Rainwater harvesting can provide on-site access to safe water

HYT’s water tanks are constructed using locally made Interlocking Stabilised Soil Blocks (ISSB) which are more durable and cost effective than available alternatives.

Our refugee trainees have excelled in their first month of training

Working closely with the government, UNHCR and NGO partners; HYT identified 7 schools and 3 hospitals in the settlement in urgent need of rainwater harvesting. The UNHCR and government have been extremely helpful and interested in the implementation of this project.

UNHCR has taken a keen interest in HYT’s work

Using our tested train as you build methodology, HYT employed 10 new trainees to learn the ins and outs of tank construction. Many of the new trainees have experience building simple structures in the settlement and took to the work very well. In addition, our refugee graduates from the 2019 Mercy Corps training are going from strength to strength and will be snapping up management positions soon.

Mercy Corps graduate, Simon is now helping to lead training in Bidi Bidi.

A massive thank you to our donors, partners, UNHCR and Ugandan Government colleagues for helping bring this project to life.

Keep up-to-date with 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