Africa Sustainable Tourism Care Foundation was created by the board members in order to help provide a better life for the locals surrounding Kibale National Park near Fort Portal. Originally the local wildlife were able to enter local villages destroying their gardens and taking the available water supply. Unfortunately the government were in favour of the animals as they brought in money from tourism, however would not help the locals after the animals would destroy their property. The foundation promotes sustainability and has set up different projects allowing for the local community to thrive and develop. They have already provided local rural areas with their own water supplies, and set up local crafts and markets allowing the community to sell their produce and earn a living. They created their own style of bee hives to allow the locals to protect their gardens from the animals whilst also earn a living from the honey. They involve the locals and ask them what they need whilst also training them to have a more sustainable future.
With the water related projects, not only are they trying to provide clean water, they are also training the locals to keep their containers clean, install pit latrines and train local school children on sanitation techniques to help reduce the spread of diseases.
I initially thought I’d be coming out here to create a well from scratch, but this was not the case. This first week has been a learning curve and involved me researching different ideas to help the locals to the best of my ability. Instead of building a well they wanted me to use my water engineering knowledge to help them with three main tasks. Now, I’ve never done anything like this before and my research doesn’t focus on how to use limited supplies in developing countries so it has been really important to research and tailor the designs to equipment and supplies that they have. For example, the local community do all the manual labour, no machines are involved and that even includes mixing the cement by hand with gravel to make it stronger. When they are building the cement wall for the water well they have no support structure to pour the cement into, instead they create the walls from wooden planks and tree branches to provide them with what they need. It is very resourceful.
Task 1: design a home filtration system for each house
Unfortunately, even once these water wells are designed and are producing clean water the containers that the locals are using are dirty. The children and women who collect the water normally have to walk a far distance and climb up muddy stairs and walk along dirt roads. The containers can be heavy and have no lids, therefore they are frequently placed on the ground meaning the clean water is able to become contaminated. Not to mention the locals are being told to clean out the containers regularly but don’t always do so. One of the project managers thought it would be a good idea to design a cheap simple home device that would allow the locals to clean their water when they get back to their homes.
Task 2: a pump irrigation system for a local crop field.
The foundation was successfully able to install a well at the bottom of a crop field for a local community. However, this was one of the first wells they installed and originally they had not put a stop valve on the outflow pipe meaning that currently the water continously flows. They would like a way to capture this water so that it isn’t wasted and then use the excess water and pump it up the hill to allow the locals to use the water for irrigation purposes.
Task 3: fix an existing well which isn’t producing water through the outflow pipe
This is the task I am currently working on. Let me explain the existing well design first. They are trying to capture streams that flow undergound and use this water for the locals. They currently just build a wall structure where they want the outflow pipe to be and to stop water flowing around the pipe, then in some cases they build walls either side to stop water leaking out | _ | like so. They fill this area with sand, gravel and charcoal to act as a filter allowing the water to be treated as it passes through. This existing well has water flowing into it but the water is flowing under the wall structure and not reaching the outflow pipe. The well has been all dug up and initially I spotted some problems. The location of the inflow water is lower down near the bottom of the wall; therefore the water is passing under the wall, the outflow pipe is a lot higher than the inflow so for future well designs I have recommended this be altered. Lastly, they are not placing any cement on the base allowing the water to seep down into the ground. I have found a design for a spring box well and we are going to try alter this existing well to incorporate some similar designs, however there are two big rocks that are making this a little difficult.
This is all new for me, and although it is giving me a chance to help the local communities, I want to make sure I do it right. So if anyone has any ideas on how to help with any of the tasks or can think of local supplies and equipment that could make these tasks easier then I know both myself and the foundation would be extremely grateful.