What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Monday, 19 January 2009

Welcome Tristan Of East Africa Trust

East Africa Trust is a charity working to promote sustainable healthy lifestyles through appropriate technology, consultation, and hard work.

Tristan studied with me in Wales for our masters. I'm in awe of his commitment to his work in Africa, he managed to keep it going while working on the degree, I seemed to be pushed just to work on the degree. I'll be posting his East Africa Trust newsletters as I receive them. If you are interested in Tristan's work please contact him at eastafricatrust@aol.com

Here is a brief Bio followed by the newsletter.

56 years old. Grammar school education to 'A' level; City & Guilds in Technical Authorship; MSc (pending!) Architecture AEES.
Many years spent in design engineering environment working with loudspeaker design, mass-production machinery design, turbo and supercharged engine design. Have also designed and built a wheelchair for cancer sufferers. 5 years spent in retailing. Now property landlord on a small scale.
Now retired from mainstream work but concentrating on sustainable development in East Africa, particularly Malawi and Rwanda.
EAT is funded by donors plus at least 50% comes from my own cash.
EAT is small and efficient; no donors' funds are spent on admin, flights, cars, hotels - it all goes to the projects on the ground. We have our own plot in Malawi and have established a demonstration agricultural unit there. Rammed Earth stove making is demonstrated too. For 2009, we will be starting building in rammed earth and looking into setting up a local business to help provide funding with a view to the Malawi operation being self-financing in the long term.


Rwanda joined the East African Community, EAC, in 2007, joining Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi in a union aimed at providing cooperation in terms of political, social and economic issues between its members. It is to be expected that Malawi and perhaps other east African countries will join EAC in the future to provide an equivalence to the EU.

Rwanda Aid has been active in Rwanda for several years and today runs several important programs providing development and welfare in the South West of the country. Situated beyond the Nyungwe rainforest, SW Rwanda is a densely populated region which suffered severely during the 1994 genocide, was a neglected part of the country and even today there remains a feeling of isolation.

The visitor might take a short flight from Kigali to Kamembe, the main town in the region of Cyangugu, but most people will use the bus, costing about £5 for the 5 hour drive. This journey winds its way through well-cultivated and terraced hills before climbing perhaps 1000m into the dense Nyungwe rainforest. The constantly twisting road is riddled with potholes, now being crudely repaired with mud and stones which will surely rapidly disappear under the onslaught of torrential rain and truck tyres. Beyond the Nyungwe, we drop progressively to about 1800m and the hilly terrain typical of SW Rwanda: tea plantations, rice fields, fish ponds and a variety of vegetables and tropical fruits feed this most densely populated of Africa’s countries.

The Cyangugu district experienced a significant earthquake in February this year, with many mud and timber buildings being shaken apart, brick and cement structures cracking badly or falling down completely Nkombo Island, a brief boat ride across Lake Kivu, suffered badly and today many families shelter in temporary shacks of corrugated iron sheets, tarpaulins and sticks. Rwanda Aid is active on the island providing replacement housing for five homeless families in the first phase of rehabilitation and, funds permitting, more low-cost and appropriate housing will follow. Improved sanitation using composting toilets, rainwater harvesting and fuel efficient stoves bring marked improvements to peoples lives on the island; but it is a slow process.

In Kamembe, our 2 volunteers, Frances and Romi, are training local ladies in the use of sewing machines, fabric and card printing and necklace making, giving them new skills and the hope of an income from products for export to Europe.

Plans are well advanced for us to build a modest village for 50-60 disabled children in nearby Ntendezi – an interesting challenge to provide accommodation, showers, toilets, kitchens and accessible gardens for these unfortunate youngsters. If we can surmount the usual bureaucratic hurdles, this project can be underway during the next few weeks.

Rwanda Aid is rapidly becoming known for its drive and expertise in moving this region forwards in terms of schooling, housing, training, welfare and sustainable agriculture. Local mayors recognise RA’s potential to develop previously neglected areas and are willing to expedite the formalities so that we can make good progress with projects without undue delay.

Toady, we visited two possible future projects: a large warehouse is available which the mayor would like to convert into a community and IT centre – with wireless internet now available through the mobile phone network, such a centre is viable, given good quality IT equipment. There is also a former technical school, situated in a stunning hilltop location overlooking Lake Kivu, terraced countryside, tea fields and the distant Congo. Abandoned since the genocide, this site has considerable potential as a cultural and training centre, perhaps offering courses in crafts, music, agricultural training and appropriate technology. Given suitable accommodation, it could also attract visitor looking for a serene retreat and picturesque location, bringing in a modest income and possibly other skills to help the centre.

Rwanda and Malawi share many characteristics and problems common to the region. Rwanda Aid and the East Africa Trust have the same goals in terms of development and improvement and by working in unison here in Rwanda, we aim to benefit the region and work towards the Rwandan governments Vision 2020: a bright future for the country where the people will enjoy a much better standard of living, better health, a good education and increasing prosperity.

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