Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The 5 funniest things about this trip

1- Amber put a butter pad in her pocket from the airplane which proceeded to melt and leave a butter stain on her pants.

2- Amber accidentally locked herself in a bathroom at an internet cafe in Masaka. After 10 minutes of shouting and pounding, someone finally came to unlock her.

3- While playing the box game one night, some listed the clues - "A secret agent from the UK, very smooth...". Amber shouted out her guess "Darth Vader!"

4- How whacking beans loose from the stalk with a stick, eventually turned into Amber practicing Jedi moves. (see video)

5- How Amber asked if Godzilla was a monkey, even though she wrote the clue.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Hello all!
I am pressed for time, so I plan on elaborating on the Public Health portion of the assessment trip once I return to the states, but I wanted to leave y'all with some photos from our time in Uganda. While our visit was short, we accomplished a lot. We look forward to sharing our findings and experiences upon our return. We have a busy semester ahead of us so be prepared. Thank you for reading and see you soon.

Sarah and Alex (a student at Hope) at the Kyawagonya Market.

Sarah and I going out into the surrounding communities to collect GPS points, assess available water sources and conduct household assessments.

Our meeting with local potters to discuss the construction of clay pots and clay cookstoves. When we return in June we hope to work with these women to design modified clay pots to be used as water storage vessels. When we met with the chairwoman of Gankanga we were informed that most individuals within the community store their drinking water in uncovered clay pots. The clay pots that are currently used lack lids and have a large opening on top for water retrieval, which often leads to the recontamination of the drinking water. By adding a tight fitting lid and a faucet to the bottom of the clay pot, the treated water will remain contaminant free and safe for consumption. While it is important to treat water prior to consumption, it is equally important to promote safe water storage to prevent recontamination.
The chairwoman and head of the women's group of Kyawagonya outside of her home. Of the 300 households in Kyawagonya, 7 own a rainwater collection system. There are approximately 700 individuals within the community. While there is a borewell nearby, it has been broken for 8 years, so many members in the community collect water from a swamp or pond. During our focus group discussion, the community listed medical services, water quantity/quality and finances as three major health concerns within the community.
Eric and Moreen testing water quality from local water sources.
Eric, Adam and Steve investigating a broken tap on a rainwater harvesting system in Gankanga. The taps installed were cheap and low quality which caused them to stay permanently open. As a result, the water continually leaked out.
EWB members and URF volunteers in front of Hope with our special friend Alan (the cow).
One of the markets in downtown Kampala.
Children posing for photos near one of the two borewells in Kyetume.
Children in Kyetume collecting water from a borewell.
Speaking with the women's group about the importance of safe water storage and water treatment methods.

Existing System

So the trip wasn't all fun and games. The pump controller for the groundwater system failed while we were there. So thankfully we were able to diagnose the problem and bring the controller to be warrantied. Also thankful that it is the rainy season so the rainwater system is able to provide water until the pump is back working again.

Also, the composting toilets were a mixed success/failure. Both diverting plates were plugged, and had to be unplugged, but they were plugged with ash, suggesting they are properly used, but the 'dry matter' was being added to both sections of the diverting plates. Also one of the bins only had dry matter, but one was mixed because the liquids tube was directing into the bin rather than into the liquids pipe. It made for an unfortunate clean-up, but should be ready for composting when we return this summer.

Water Source

And another blog post for good measure...

We had a bit of trouble locating many water sources, particularly broken down handpumps. Though we thought there would be many, we only located two nearby the school. Based on conversations, we think there may be more.

The problems with the handpumps do appear to be simple, and probably a relatively fix... in both of the pumps it appears a faulty check valve is the problem. However, the sustainability of the pumps are a bigger issue. All handpumps in the area have little or no management, so from conversations with URF staff, they will inevitably fall into disrepair without an imposed management plan, which may be part of our implementation.

As for source enhancement... it was less promising. We saw an example of this with a shallow borehole placed next to a surface water pond/swamp. It unfortunately produced the same water as the surface water and the local village didn't even bother collecting from it. If a handpump isn't aesthetically pleasing, it is viewed as dirty and preference is given to surface water. Something to think about...

In case you aren't blogged out, here is at few more!

So the drip irrigation kits were a hit. We worked with a few students at the school to teach them to set up and use the Chapin Living Water Kits. They were easy to set up and Shaffic, a student living at URF, then set up and explained the system to all the women that came for the demonstration Friday. It was encouraging that Shaffic was willing and able to explain the systems.

The supplier in Kampala supplies a more commercial type of drip irrigation that isn't as user friendly. A possible option for this summer will be to bring 30-40 Chapin systems for a pilot project in two communities using some of the students to help us teach and set up the systems.

The women thought that 10,000 /= (~$5) would be a reasonable price for them to pay for the systems.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Water Quality Summary

During our stay at Hope Integrated Academy, we collected samples for water quality analysis. We tested groundwater for hardness, alkalinity, nitrate, nitrite, pH, and arsenic. The groundwater is very hard and quite alkaline, but no nitrate, nitrite, or arsenic was present in the water. Moreen, the director of women's empowerment at URF, also helped us with the water quality testing.

Both groundwater and surface water sources were analyzed for bacterial contamination. Unfortunately, most sources tested positive for fecal coliform and e.Coli which indicates the water may make people ill. One of the most contaminated sources in the area is a pond in a community called Gankanga. During the dry season, up to 300 people utilize this pond as a primary source of water. Below is a picture of the pond and the bacterial test of the pond. In the second photo, fecal coliform is indicated by the pink spots and e.Coli is indicated by the blue spots.

One of the treatment options being considered for the future implementation is a product called WaterGuard. WaterGuard is a sodium hypochlorite solution similar to what is used to treat water in the United States. Residents of Gankanga used to use WaterGuard regularly, but the supply chain in the region has been disrupted. If URF were able to establish a supply chain for the region, many people expressed a willingness to pay to use the product. WaterGuard was added to the sample of the Gankanga pond, and the subsequent bacterial sample showed the water had become safe to consume. Compare the picture below to the picture above to see the effect of WaterGuard.

We also investigated the possibilities of implementing modified biosand filters on future trips. We washed sand and gravel and placed it in a 60 liter container purchased in Masaka (see the former post). The biofilm which removes contamination requires two weeks to grow so we were unable to conduct accurate testing on the filter. Nonetheless, we taught volunteers at URF to use the filter and conduct bacteria tests on the water once the biolfilm has grown. The biosand filter was presented to women from surrounding communities, and they expressed an interest in the filter. The amount of water needed to wash the sand may be a limiting factor, but we plan to continue investigation into the biosand filter when we return to the United States.
Again, most of the drinking water sources in the area are contaminated with bacteria which is making the community members ill. As a result, the EWB-UMN design team will be working closely with URF to determine the best alternative(s) for future implantation trips. Although the project will be challenging, the community members are very open to the different ideas which is very encouraging.