Introducing Uganda's Innovator: Juliet Mukunde.
Hi! I'm Juliet Mukunde from Uganda, silver medal winner of The Lake Victoria Pooptank 2022. I was born and raised in a small village called Mpongo. Until senior two level (14 yrs. old) I could hardly construct a sentence in English due to poor schools and poor background. Despite these challenges, I liked studying so much and I always told my fellow pupils that one day I would study up to ‘Makerere’ level, actually not knowing that Makerere was the name of a university, and not a level of education. Apart from studying, I celebrate the gift of my voice (as Ben Carson celebrates his gifted hands) and I like to sing in my free time.
Lake Victoria is special to me because I'm a woman and in Africa its women's responsibility to fetch and provide water for domestic use. Indeed, women need water more, especially for our hygiene during our menstruation days. Lake Victoria also provides fresh water directly to its riparian countries and supports agriculture and industry, the backbone of our development.
I'm a proud shit handler, the job that has helped me fulfill my childhood dream of being so close to the so-called 'commoners' and offering them my voice. Safe Feacal Sludge Management (FSM) is an essential part of sanitation in Uganda. Without FSM, health, hygiene, and water quality are at stake because of the high levels of fecal contamination which cause disease and increased death rates.
I'm so excited about The Lake Victoria Pooptank experience! It has increased my self-esteem, showed my potential and my skills for life, and exposed me to the international community. My participation was just by luck, I can’t remember from where I received the ‘Call for Proposals’ email. The Pooptank opportunity has allowed me to meet other innovators around Lake Victoria, as well as potential funders, mentors, panelists, and other stakeholders. I pray The Pooptank project goes on and on until it solves all sanitation related challenges globally! And to our crazy guy Anthony Kilbride, honestly working with him is a blessing and fun! Anthony is so calm, caring, careful, a good listener, full of ideas, able to provide solutions and above all, so respectful and good at keeping time.
In terms of my innovation’s progress so far, I am holding conversations with a company who can boost my social media platforms and I am composing a song about my sanitation innovation. In the future, I hope to see a big informed society, aware of the importance of sanitation in protecting water quality in Lake Victoria, not only in its 3 riparian countries but also beyond national boundaries. That would be a great achievement!
To anyone out there interested in applying for the Pooptank in 2023, you have made the right decision! You will be joining a world of experts, innovators and passionate, idealistic ladies and gentlemen. So get ready to join the class and to add value to the chain. You are warmly welcome to the space where quality matters: The Pooptank!