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Hello 2015!

Happy New Year everybody! We hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. We had a fantastic start to the year with one of COCO’s founders, Steve Cram, awarded the very much deserved CBE in the New Year honours! 2015 is also set to be a very exciting year for us as we turn 15 this year. To celebrate this amazing achievement, we are launching ’15 Challenges in 2015’ and hope to raise £150,000 for our Schools for Life Programme. There really is something for everybody, from the Kielder Marathon to climbing Kilimanjaro! Check out all 15 challenges here or even come up with your own idea for #coco15 and get in touch! We would love to help! So keep an eye out for exciting times ahead with the hashtag #coco15


Meanwhile, we have many updates on numerous projects we’ve been busy with including rainwater harvesting, solar lamps and the success of permaculture training in Songea, rural Tanzania.

Water & Sanitation at Mercy Primary

Since June 2014, COCO has been working in partnership with Development Direct and Water for Kids to help implement rainwater harvesting, safe drinking water, handwash facilities and composting toilets at Mercy Primary School in Mbita, Kenya. Water for Kids supported Development Direct with a donation of £3,000 which was matched by a donation of £3,092.48 from COCO. Mercy Primary is one of COCO’s ‘Schools for Life’ where Water and Sanitation is one of the 6 elements. Prior to the implementation of the water and sanitation project, students were prone to waterborne diseases such as typhoid and cholera and had to walk to a bore hole 1.5km away to collect water.

Schools for Life

The rainwater harvesting system involved the installation of a guttering system which collects rainwater and stores it in a new water storage tank. This water is then treated to provide students and teachers with safe drinking water and clean water to wash their hands with after using the new composting toilets.

Jan 15 Mercy Handwashing

As a result:

  1. Students are suffering from fewer waterborne diseases.

  2. Students no longer have exhausting walks to collect water, and can therefore remain in their lessons.

  3. The water has enabled a ‘Food Forest’ to be implemented at the school, which despite the dry weather conditions, manages to supply students and teachers with nutritious foods including cassava, sweet potatoes and paw paw.

  4. The composting toilets produce compost that can be used for growing fruit trees, helping improve the sustainability of the school. There is currently one composting toilet, with a further two under construction.

Thanks to your support COCO has been able to support this project, alongside partners Development Direct and Water for Kids, and consequently helped benefit 150 students at the school together with 8 teachers and 200 members of the local community.

Solar Lamps

In October 2013, alongside The Nuru Fund, COCO provided 70 solar lamps to the Hoja Project. The lamps were given as a loan, all of which have been paid off. 40 lamps were given to school students and 30 lamps were given to members of the community. The lamps have provided recipients the opportunity to generate an income, as members of the community can pay to use the lamps to charge their mobile phone. Furthermore, 86% of recipients report that they use the lamp to continue studying after dark. Education is further enhanced as students can use generated income to buy educational materials. It was also found that the generation of income from the lamps significantly contributed to food security for recipients and their families.

food security

You can see that the amount of people who were food secure increased from 16.7% to 75% as a result of receiving a solar lamp, highlighting their importance to families and communities.

Kundra Kunji of Hoja Secondary School was one of the students who received a solar lamp. She has stated that it was easy to make the loan repayments and that “Having electricity helps me to study and perform well. Before I got my lamp I used to get between 39 and 45%, but I am now getting 45 to 60%.”

Solar Lamp

Sustainable Agriculture

We were also honoured to be given a shout out in an article on sustainable agriculture by expert, Lucie Bradley, published through The Permaculture Research Institute. You can read her article here, to find out about the ‘permaculture revolution’ in Tanzania. Her article is full of some great information on how permaculture is transforming lives whilst also being largely beneficial to the the environemnt. Lucie was instrumental in COCO getting involved with sustainable agriculture. Recently, COCO supported The Hoja Project to provide sustainable agriculture training to five Community Based Organisations. We would like to thank all of those who participated in the Ballyquin Picnic Fundraiser which helped raise the £1,271 which was used to help provide the training. Here you can see the full benefits.

Ballyquin Picnic

The benefits of sustainable agriculture often continue for many years. COCO is proud to say that as a result of previous sustainable agriculture training provided alongside The Hoja Project, several farmers were able to increase their income and as a result decided to set up Litisha Nursery in 2012. The nursery currently has 46 pupils, one teacher and a cook. All of the pupils are studying pre standard level one, which will help to give them a head start before starting primary school when they are 6 or 7 years old. One of the pupils, Loveness Joseph (fourth from the left), is 6 years old and dreams of becoming a teacher.

Loveness Joseph

That’s all from the COCO Chronicles this month! Thank you very much for reading and make sure you keep an eye out for February’s blog through Facebook and Twitter!

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