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.

Cookstove Summary

Hi all,

The next set of blog entries will include a brief summary for each section of the assessment trip. This entry will detail what we have learned for cookstoves.

We introduced 4 stoves to URF, the women's groups, and the surrounding communities:

(1) Stovetec rocket stove - This is a wood fueled stove manufactured in Oregon by Aprovecho. It has an adjustable pot skirt and is designed for smaller saucepans (~$35-$40)

(2) Ugastove rocket stove - A wood fueled stove manufactured in Kampala by Ugastove Manufacturing Ltd. It has a fixed pot skirt and is designed for larger saucepans (35,000 shillings).

(3) Ugastove charcoal stove - A charcoal fueled stove manufactured in Kampala by Ugastove. Designed for smaller saucepans (13,000 shillings).

(4) Solar oven - A solar oven manufactured by the solar oven society in Minnapolis. It's intended use is as a supplement to other cooking methods (i.e., rocket stove or 3-stone fire) Cost: $85.

The four stoves are shown in the picture below (from left to right: Stovetec, Ugastove (wood), Ugastove (charcoal), Solar oven):

There was a significant amount of interest in the wood fueled Ugastove as well as the solar oven. Most of the women's groups members preferred the Ugastove over the Stovetec because of the larger size (most families are large and thus large saucepans are common) and concerns over children bumping saucepans off the top of the Stovetec stove. Passive observation indicated that there is a significant reduction in smoke and fuel use from all four options. However, users seemed to only be concerned with reductions in fuel use (not the reduction in smoke). This means health benefits from smoke reduction may be ancillary. Below are some photos from our meetings with the women's groups:

We were able to bring water to a rolling boil in all the stoves (except the solar oven). Overall, the Stovetec stove seemed to perform a bit better (i.e., boiled water more quickly and reduced smoke the most) but the vast majority of users seemed to prefer the Ugastove over the Stovetec. Below are a few pictures of the team testing these stoves (note the visible reduction in smoke from the improved stoves as compared to the three stone fire):

Finally, we found many modified stoves (see pictures below) in the households surveyed. These stoves were constructed locally for ~15,000-30,000 shillings. After speaking to the owners of these stoves it seems that most were not be performing as desired (i.e., not reducing smoke or fuel use).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Biosand Construction

Assessment Photos

Return to Kampala


Our apologies for the lack of posts, the internet was far from our site. We have just returned to Kampala and our looking forward to the implementation trip. While our time was short we were able to assess water sources, hold focus groups, host techology demonstations, talk with students, and visit a plantation. We have a lot to discuss!

In brief, the commuity was very appreciative and eager to use the modified stoves (in particuar the Ugastove), drip irrigation, and waterguard. These are all projects we would like to work with URF to provide to pilot communities. There are many other opportunities to fix hand pumps for wells, work with students and the women's group, enhance the seed loan program, and pilot the biosand filter.

As mentioned we hosted focus groups with two communites, conducted household surveys, tested water quality, and used GPS to map the community including water, homes, clinics, schools, and roads. We learned a lot about the community and received support. We look forward to sharing photos and more details soon!

Warm regards,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gankyanga Visit

After speaking with staff from URF and representatives from the women's groups we have decided to focus on two communities during the rest of the assessment trip: (1) Gankyanga and (2) Kyabagonia. These two communities are located within easy walking distance from Hope Integrated Academy.

On Sunday we were able to meet with the head woman's family and walk around Gankyanga. Today and tomorrow Amber and Sarah will conduct a focus group session with the woman's group followed by 10-15 household interviews. Here are a few observations from our visit on Sunay:
  • Sparse population - As of now we are trying to define the total number of people and area
  • Large variation in household behavior (i.e., early adopters vs. traditional)
  • There are two water sources: (1) a swamp/pond that fluctuates with seasons and (2) a hand pump that is located 30-40 feet from the swamp. We were told that the handpump dries up but the swamp does not. Our initial thought is that the swamp must be spring fed.
  • There are a number of rain water catchments (installed by World Vision) that have tap/valve problems.
  • Property boundaries do not seem to be important for common goods (i.e., water, mango, etc).
  • Primary fuel is wood but charcoal is also used.
  • Sauce pans are typically large (average family size is 8-12 people) meaning some stoves may not be appropriate.
  • Chickens and turkeys are raised but have had problems with disease. A pair of turkeys can be purchased for 7,000 shillings and sold 9 months later for 40,000 shillings per turkey.
  • There are large maize and sorghum crops (as well as a few small family gardens).
  • There is some sort of loan system in place (seems to be mostly between community. memebers

Here are a few pictures (see comments for captions/descriptions):

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Yesterday Steve visited the main manufacturing plant for Ugastoves. Ugastoves are improved wood-burning cookstoves that reduce the amount of fuel used during cooking and also reduces indoor air pollution. Below are some brief facts about Ugastoves and the manufacturing plant:

-The warehouse manufacutures approximately 200 stoves per week
-Stoves are subsidized by CEIHD (UC-Berkley) and carbon offset credits (JP Morgan)
-A clay mixer has been manufactured on site
-The stoves require a clay insert, and the clay inserts are all fired on site
-Ugastove hopes to train individuals for 3 to 4 weeks in Kampala. The newly trained individuals would then start franchises to manufacture Ugastoves at various locations throughout Uganda.
-The stoves cost 35,000 USh (~$18) a piece

Some photos of the plant in Kampala are also attached.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Arrival to Uganda

We have all arrived safely in Kampala, and we are running some final errands before headling to the communities. The flights were all very smooth, and the weather here is gorgeous. A 90 degree temperature swing in the positive direction always feels nice.

Tonight we are facilitating a session for a Young Professionals conference at Hope Integrated Academy. We will be discussing the process of planning, fundraising, and implementing projects as well as discussing our motivations for coming to Uganda to work on these projects. Over the next few days we be participating in the conference and will begin our assessment of the communities. Steve has also picked up three different types of stoves which we will be testing and presenting to community members.

Our availability to internet will be limited over the next three days, but we will hopefully be able to provide another update towards the beginning of the week. Please feel free to leave any comments if you have any questions or suggestions.