Mud, machetes, and masterpieces

Today we began building our first fuel efficient stove. Highlights of the day included learning the Luganda words for animals from some adorable primary school students we ran into, and getting a chance to use a machete to break into a matooke plant ( similar to a banana) and seeing what it looks like. Here is a photo!




Bikes in Uganda

Ugandans often ride these bikes that are imported from India. They are made of steal and weigh at least 75 pounds. Dagan and I are both bike mechanics and we cannot get over how cool the braking system is! There are no cables! People also use bikes much differently here. You will frequently see children too small to ride them using them to carry jerry cans of water


Singing in the rain

We had big plans for the day to he’s out of town and check on some more biosand filters, but we are trapped at RASD because it is pouring rain and hailing. I cannot believe how hard it rains here! George, Dagan and I are sitting at a table together and have up on conversation after we could not hear each other yelling over the rain.

As unfortunate as it is that we cannot do the work we had hoped to do today, this rain was much needed. The town water has been shut off and now that they are getting deeper In to the dry season, many water sources are drying up. This rain will be extremely beneficial for the community.

We have also begun reevaluating the fuel efficient stove project and we are hoping to find a way to revive it. This project involves building stoves that use far less wood than the traditional 3 stone fire method. We have been discussing the greatest challenges of creating sustainable projects, and it is becoming clear that maintenance is a huge challenge in sustainability. For this reason, the stoves are worth rebuilding. The stoves help a family in many ways and require no maintenance one they are built. They can also be used for many years. Hopefully we can revive the project!

Settling in

We have made it to Nkokonjeru! We are staying at the convent in town and our accommodations are much more than expected. The water in town is out because of some disagreement over paying the bill for the pump electricity. The convent has their own pump, so we are spoiled with the only running water in town. This really hit us yesterday as we got our first glance at the EWB Davis projects with Matt, a former EWB member who has spent much time in Nkokonjeru working on these projects.

We traveled to the main road in Nkokonjeru and got our first look at the composting toilet project, which I will explain more about later. Essentially it is a latrine that diverts urine and feces separately to sell to farmers for agricultural needs. We learned that the 120 liter tank has already been filled and the first 6 jerry cans of urine have been sold to a farmer for 4,000 Ugandan shillings a can. ( One US dollar is approximately 2410 Ugandan shillings)

We also took a trip to the Providence Home, a school for orphans and disabled children,  to learn that the rainwater tank that is nearly 6 meters deep and often gets quite full during the rainy season has run dry. The children were now complaining that water from the bore hole pump had a strange taste. We will be looking into this more.

We also had the pleasure of meeting with some local people and enjoyed and enjoyed excellent meals, which I will tell you more about later.

Our first full day was quite exhausting and gave us a preview of many challenges we will be trying to address in our time here. Dagan and I are having a bit of a hard time seeing the reality of the challenges of implementing foreign aid and advanced technology, as we saw that many of the projects face challenges too great for us to address in the short time we are here.



Arrival, travel mishaps and more

I am traveling with UC Davis’s chapter of Engineers WIthout Borders. Our group is traveling to Nkokenjeru, Uganda and consists of fellow students Dagan and Mirann, and Bill a professor at UC Davis.

At this point Dagan and I have made it to Entebbe and are beginning our travels towards Nkokenjeru. Bill and Mirann had flight delays and are stuck in Montreal for a few days, so we will be meeting up with them later this week.

After long and exhausting flights, we finally caught a glimpse of city lights in Africa. We had a short stop in Rwanda and the view from the plane window was astonishing. Poking through a thin mist of fog, Lights flickered on the rolling hills of Rwanda. It was then that it finally hit us that we were quite far from home.

Dagan and I spent the night at Entebbe Backpackers LTD, a hostel a short ride from the airport. Despite sleeping in nets, I have sustained the first mosquito bite of the trip on the arch of my foot. Let the adventure begin!