UPLift--Poverty Alleviation For The Ultra-Poor

UPLift is a program designed to empower communities on the Thai/Burmese border that lack food security, opportunities for income, and education. Through the use of small grants and skills trainings, these families receive the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty without having to rely on external aid indefinitely.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Water Reservoir Pilot, 5 Months In

After five months of dry season, our plastic water storage pilot in Chiang Rai province is still working!  Overall it is functioning well and not losing water.  The double-layered bottom of the trench is strong.

One lesson learned is: the design for the top cover, although still keeping condensation from exiting the trench, is not holding up to the weather conditions.  On future units we will have to find another material that keeps condensation down while staying durable, which will reduce maintenance costs and time for the average farmer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Making Your Own Drip Irrigation Kit

Mark has been working on UPLift's drip irrigation test site this week in Chiang Rai, Thailand.  Here is an update on what he has been learning!

We are trying to come up with a system that is affordable and accessible enough for Thais and migrants to use.  With that in mind, the test system is only using materials that can be found at local supply stores.  Using intermediate technology (tools that maximize human power rather than electricity) and homemade tools is the cheapest and most realistic method for families with little or no startup capital.

Our test site has two 9-meter x 6-meter plots.  For water we bought a plastic 20 gallon trash can, cut a hole close to the bottom, and caulked a PCV pipe fitting into the hole.  The trash can (which only cost about 7 dollars to buy and have the hole fitted).  We also had a metal tower made that is 1 meter tall.  Using metal was a tad bit more expensive, but can easily be replaced by the endless supply of bamboo or wood scraps found in and around communities.

Two plots behind the lemongrass, with the metal tower in the center

Our cost-effective version of a small-garden gravity tank (USD$7)

Each plot will have 12 rows of drip line.  For this much line we will need around 45 gallons of water per day, which means 3 rounds of 15 gallons per day.  It's as simple as pumping the water into the bucket, then turning a valve switch.  Gravity takes care of the rest by sending the water to each drip line!  This saves the farmer from having to haul bucket after bucket of water to each specific plant and the time associated.

Yesterday I began cutting the drip lines.  PE pipe, if you're not familiar, is a lightweight plastic pipe that is just as common as PVC pipe, and usually much more narrow.  Two tools made the job much easier--a pruner (scissors work equally well), and a meter stick.  Our meter stick is simply a bamboo stick with measurement ticks drawn on.

After about an hour of measuring I had 24 drip lines.  After straightening each out they will be ready for hook-up to the main PVC line being fed by the trash can.

Just an hour of work for one person
Straightening each line--Any other good ideas on how to do this?

We will report again soon to update the rest of the setup process!

Moonlight School Opening

Blood Foundation's newest evening school in Fang is located at a Shan village temple.

Our friends in Chiang Mai, Blood Foundation, recently opened a new "Moonlight School" in Fang district.  These evening schools give Shan migrant children and adults a free opportunity to learn Thai with the local government cirriculum, thus increasing their chances of obtaining legal work status within the area. 

Check out some pictures from the opening ceremony in January!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plans for 2011

Grandma's ready for 2011.  Are you?
 For the rest of this week we will be updating you on UPLift projects for the first few months of this year, which consist of:
  • Building off of the great work done by the teachers and students of our two Burmese migrant school garden projects in Mae Sot and expanding to several more schools
  • Getting our drip irrigation pilot up and running in Chiang Rai
  • Taking a look at the Mae Hong Son border area
  • Continuing the search for suitable income generation ideas with the landfill community in Mae Sot
  • and jumping into our newest obsession....aquaponics!!