Caritas Denmark, a member of Access2innovation, recently upgraded its status from a networking member to a strategic member. This is because it is “an excellent network that delivers concrete results and includes tailor-made, advisory support directly to Caritas on top of it” says program coordinator Lars Møller.

“We started in A2i a few years ago on a cheap membership to access the network. It worked out well. We made good contacts with exciting companies that have made a difference in our work in Uganda,” says Lars Møller, program coordinator of Caritas Denmark’s development program in Uganda and vice-chairman of A2i’s board.


Lars Møller continues:

“Now that we have expanded our membership to be strategic, it’s because we also get advisory support in addition to the network. Now, we use this as direct support for two projects, we have implemented in collaboration with our local partners, Caritas Uganda and CIDI, Community Integrated Development Initiatives: one about youth groups starting up coffee processing businesses and one about menstruation hygiene. The last project is done in collaboration with a Ugandan-born woman, Mary Consolata Namagambe, who is making a great effort to prevent girls in Africa from missing up to 20 per cent of their schooling due to practical challenges every month. The project produces reusable menstrual pads through women’s groups and works for better toilet facilities. Mary also holds courses for both boys and girls on what menstruation is. We use the advice from A2i to directly support Mary Consolata Namagambe, and we are pleased about that.

We also get help from Access2innovation regarding our youth coffee project, which is part of our larger program, UGOPAP, for Ugandan smallholder farmers. The main idea behind the program is to gather smallholder farmers into cooperatives so they can bypass middlemen, pool resources to purchase machinery for processing their crops, and thereby achieve economic benefits.”

Contact to clean drinking water and solar cookers

One of the companies Caritas Denmark has connected with through Access2innovation is 4Life Solutions. They have developed the innovative SaWa Bag, whose technology purifies water. The water is poured into a unique bag and placed in the sun, after which it is clean enough to drink.

“We quickly developed a good collaboration with 4Life Solutions. They could test their SaWa Bags through our organisation and get our assessment of the product. It was good for them and us because we gained access to provide people with cleaner water,” says Lars Møller.

Another partner is Pesitho, whom Caritas Denmark also met through A2i. Over the years, Caritas Denmark tested Pesitho’s solar-powered cookers in Uganda. This provided extensive experience and important feedback that improved the product, including a more solid construction. The cooker’s performance was also increased to 600 W to meet the real needs.

Since then, Caritas Denmark has opened its entire network to Pesitho and has, among other things, studied the buying interest in the intended target group. This provided valuable knowledge, pointing to opportunities in the urban middle class in addition to the poorest, for whom the product was initially intended.

A production facility for the cookers has now been set up on Caritas Uganda premises in the Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda. Here, Pesitho now produces the stoves in a workshop with trained technicians.

Scholarships with Aalborg University

Through Access2innovation, Caritas Denmark has also connected with Professor Arne Remmen. This has resulted in an exciting collaboration between Aalborg University, Caritas Denmark, Caritas Uganda and GULU University in Northern Uganda. The partnership offers scholarships to students from Aalborg and Uganda in areas such as agriculture, cultivation methods, joint sales, and purchases, as well as related areas such as strengthened advocacy to get the Ugandan government to support significant development in rural areas. The research benefits the UGOPAP program and its stakeholders with new knowledge and helps students research areas that would otherwise be out of reach.

The first group of students will be exchanged in the autumn. The plan is to exchange five Masters students from Aalborg and three PhD students from Africa each year.

There are already applications underway to expand the collaboration based on Caritas’ successful school gardens in Bidi Bidi and Rakai in the southern part of Uganda. The gardens showcase the best methods of sustainable agriculture and gardening. This can, for example, be vertical crop cultivation or re-circulating water in a fishpond through a hydroponic system. Plants take up excess nutrients in the pond water, and the clean water is returned to the pond. The gardens are a source of inspiration and learning for the local communities, mainly consisting of small farmers. Another aspect of the school gardens is that the production provides raw materials for daily hot meals, strengthening the children’s learning.

 “Opened our eyes to fantastic resources”

“Our meeting with Aalborg University has opened our eyes to students as a fantastic resource. We might not have thought of that without Access2innovation’s network. You can’t collaborate with someone you don’t know exists. So, if we hadn’t met Arne, we would never have spoken with Aalborg University. We also met Ole from Aller Aqua, with whom we would like to collaborate with both researchers and NGOs. Here, too, I can see many opportunities. Again and again, at A2i’s meetings, we meet like-minded people face to face. Then we don’t have to spend many resources finding them ourselves. We are very pleased with our upgraded membership,” concludes Lars Møller. 

Photos: Brian Nkuubi, Community Integrated Development Initiatives (CIDI).

Facts about Caritas Internationalis and Caritas Denmark

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 members working at the grassroots in almost every country of the world. Inspired by the Catholic faith, Caritas is reaching out to the poor, vulnerable, and excluded, regardless of race or religion, to build a world based on justice and fraternal love.

Caritas Internationalis has its headquarters in Rome. It coordinates emergency operations, formulates development policy, and advocates for a better world for everyone.

Caritas Denmark’s national work targets people in difficult situations and offers help in health, rights, and employment. Also, Caritas Denmark has livelihood programs in eight countries: Bangladesh, Myanmar, Lebanon, Jordan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Uganda, and Ukraine. Caritas’ global network also supports sudden emergencies in other parts of the world.