Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles

digital health week in mountain jungles

One of the most exciting things about non-profits is working with people who share a similar heart-felt cause. Discussions become so dynamic and meaningful! This is what happened when we started to bring in groups from HIMSS…and then BMS and others.

But what does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?

At the very foundation of health is good nutrition. Without it, we see health conditions that can take life away from kids. Acute and chronic malnutrition is a health condition. These conditions can be managed with digital health tools. In fact, we see the application of digital health in the mountain jungles as a cornerstone for healthy transformation of malnourished kids.

So when GlobalRise presented the keynote at HIMSS22’s Global Health Equity Symposium and met the VP of Digital Health at Bristol Meyers Squibbs, we got pretty excited! BMS is looking at global health equity, digital health and projects that can help to drive discovery in this emerging arena. Our conversations lead to the convergence of activity between HIMSS Institute, BMS and GlobalRise in a powerful way! In fact, it lead to scoping of a new Digital Health Week with participation by HIMSS, BMS and GlobalRise in Kasese, Uganda, during our Mission2022.

With HIMSS and BMS, we are conducting consultations with three hospitals in areas of low resources, like Kasese, as well as a unique surgical hospital, supported by Mt Sinai Medical Center in NYC, that offers oncology services and more. As part of this we are consulting with Kisoro District Hospital, a project of Montifore Medical Center. We are also reviewing medical initiatives at Rwenzori International University, Bugema University and Makarere University in the Kampala area.

As we learn, we will make better decisions about how to position our multi-thematic Digital Food System to sustainably lift hundreds of thousands out of disease and poverty in southwestern Uganda…and beyond!


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.

Drones or Donkeys?

drones or donkeys

In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets.

Why donkeys?

Today, most of the small holders in the mountains are women. They walk down the mountains with their crops for 3-5 hours, baby on back, to sell whatever they can carry. This is one key reason why mountainous families, over 150,000 households, are locked into poverty today.

The researchers asked: why not send in donkeys? It makes a lot of sense. (By the way, finding this research was hard. It may not get much publicity because the project failed. But with this failure we may find foundational concepts that can ultimately succeed.)

Candidly, we never knew this project existed when we were granted a visit to the Mayor’s office. “Mayor,” we pleaded, “we think a fundamental development issue in the mountains is nutrition and to address this means somehow improving household income.” If you look at the research, improving nutrition and income always go hand in hand. In other words, a nutrition program is typically unsustainable if incomes aren’t improved.

The Mayor agreed. After convening two strategic meetings, his office concluded that steep terrain is one of the deep issues that is blocking socioeconomic development in the mountains. He was aware of the donkey project. “They ended up eating them for food,” he said. The project failed. The people are hungry.

When that failed the group met again and determined that it might be possible to implement “trams” at various points in the Rwenzori mountain range, however, this proposal is very expensive, ecologically insensitive and was off to a slow start. So when we mentioned using drones, the Mayor was intrigued. We explained the platform and our early ideas of how this could work.

Drones…Not Donkeys!

Today we are working with a group of social visionaries to develop a cargo drone platform, linked to mobile payments, that mountain small holders can use. Its sort of like an “uber in the sky” on a “pay as you go” basis. Before onboarding the platform, mountain small holders must go to Village Trainings in nutrition, soil fertility and financial planning…so the link between better income and nutrition improvement is sealed.

GlobalRise is building a Digital Food System that will deploy cargo drones for food, medicine, soil inputs and more. We are also implementing digital health tools that can monitor the journey of children in the mountains from stunted to healthy!

The “system of systems” will be proven and we hope that it will eventually be handed off to the government via a PPP (public private partnership) and scaled. This will require workforce development in UAV aviation, digital health, food and information technology and much more!

To enable this, one of the GlobalRise team is a board member of Rwenzori International University in Kasese, helping them to create a Tech Innovation Center for student training.

Click here to learn more about our program: https://www.globalrise.org/projects/community-to-country/


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.

Training in the Mountain Jungles

training in kasese mountain jungles

We are so happy to be back in the field for the first time since the pandemic! The town of Kasese is moving forward…new roads, buildings, a newly licensed university and much more! The resilience of the people is impressive!

But what do we find in the mountains? Its as if we never left…

They live in the same baked mud homes that are falling apart; kids don’t have shoes and wear clothes that don’t fit; water pumps may not work after walking miles to use them; and livestock is secured inside the home, which increases the chances to mix feces with food.

Families are indescribably poor…its tough to live on 82 cents a day!

If kids are to thrive, households must learn about nutrition using foods that grow here; AND, household finances must improve. Most households are women-lead and farm on 1.5 acres. But they need help moving crops across the many steep hills to the market in town.

Imagine walking 3-5 hours to get to the market…one can only carry so much!

This is a big reason they’re locked into poverty…and why GlobalRise is building a Digital Food System! This “system of systems” combines nutrition training with a drone crop transport system, linking mountainous poor to formal markets. Working with the community to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”, the system will raise incomes using a cashless system – an “Uber in the sky” – that automatically credits funds to their mobile phones! What can this do?

Transform life for hundreds of thousands of kids in the Rwenzori Mountains!

Join us!


Check Out Our Other Recent Blogs:

  • Rwenzori International University
    Sixty universities operate in Uganda, yet none serve the Rwenzori Mountains where over one million Bakonzo live…until today.
  • Digital Health Week in the Mountain Jungles
    What does “digital health” have to do with “digital food systems”? What does it have to do with better nutrition?
  • Farm-to-Plate Protocol
    In 2016 an idea sprouted at a strategy meeting in India…orphanages struggle with professional nutrition examination of their children. This is because of…
  • Drones or Donkeys?
    In what could be one of the most significant failures to improve the life of mountainous small holder farmers in Kasese, the use of donkeys was recommended to help farmers move their crops down to formal markets. Why donkeys?
  • Twiga’s Crusade to “Kick Stunting Out of Kasese!”
    Prior to the pandemic, GlobalRise started a multi-year campaign to help the people of Kasese to eliminate stunting. Prior research indicates that this area has a 50% stunting rate – one out of every two kids. As a World Vision executive says, this is “an abomination”.