Anna Sullivan ’26 on an earlier trip to Uganda

Anna Sullivan ’26 on an earlier trip to Uganda

Lehigh Students Win 2024 Davis Projects for Peace Award

The team aims to fight malnutrition in Bududa, Uganda, through a sustainable poultry program and education campaign.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

Three Lehigh students have jointly won a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace award to develop a project in Bududa, Uganda, that provides nutrient-rich eggs to young children, cultivates economic opportunities and fosters connections among the community, schools and healthcare systems. The project aims to help combat malnutrition in that area of the East African country.

The students—Willow Munson ’24, a global studies and pre-med major; Anna Sullivan ’26, a sociology major; and Randi Conroy ’25, a finance major—developed the poultry project in connection with the non-governmental organization Pathways Development Initiative (PDI), which founded the first pre-primary school in Uganda’s Bududa District.

The money will be used to build a poultry house on PDI’s land that will be maintained by older students in PDI’s sports program under the supervision of a chicken maintenance expert. The money also will be used to purchase as many as 500 chickens to provide eggs for the pre-primary school, which serves 3- to 5-year-olds, as well as allow for chicken reproduction and the program’s sustainability.

“The idea is that this can be a fully functioning program without any of our help,” said Munson. “We want there to be enough in the budget to pay people over a long period of time until the chicken farm can be self-sustainable.”

Willow Munson ’24

Willow Munson ’24 learned of the needs in Bududa through earlier work there.

Munson, Sullivan and Conroy learned of the needs in Bududa through earlier work there with Sociology Professor Kelly Austin.

“It was definitely life-changing for the better, and it was very eye-opening,” said Conroy, who, along with Munson, will return to Bududa this summer. “You take that experience and then you do more with it. I didn't want that to be a one time thing for me.”

Conroy said it’s important for the children in Bududa to receive substantial nutrition. In sub-Saharan Africa, malnutrition remains the second leading cause of children’s death, according to the students’ grant application. In applying for the award, they noted that traditional approaches to eradicating malnutrition relied on education campaigns and one-time food distributions.

Their project will provide new avenues of economic opportunity and sustainability, as the poultry farm will be able to generate income by selling eggs to the community. The three said that PDI had to go to a nearby town about an hour away to get eggs for school meals during the time they were there.

  Anna Sullivan ’26 and Randi Conroy ’25

From left, Anna Sullivan ’26 and Randi Conroy ’25 with PDI students on an earlier trip, at field day

Additionally, using a buddy system, older students in PDI’s sports program will partner with younger students to train them in poultry farming. That way, when the older students graduate, the younger students will be able to assume the responsibilities and keep the program going.

Munson said that if the youngsters and their parents put in a certain number of hours to look after the chickens and help maintain the chicken coops, they will be able to earn a chicken. That will potentially help families nutritionally and economically.

Munson, Sullivan and Conroy said that they will assess the impact of the project at PDI’s pre-primary school. While they know the project won’t eradicate malnutrition, they hope it will help alleviate some of the issues.

“I went to Uganda last summer to learn from them,” said Sullivan. “We always say ‘work with, don't do to.’ And I really agree with that statement. I don't want to … come in and mess things up. That's not at all the goal. I think we can all attest to the idea that we would like to maybe guide the community in a cool direction, and then let it be something that the community is able to make their own, and that’s sustainable after we leave. That's the main goal.”

Read more stories on the Lehigh News Center.

Story by

Mary Ellen Alu

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