Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring is in the air but in Uganda we are talking a different kind of SPRING

I know, I know, I just talked about clean water here in Uganda; about boreholes and the blessing of pure water but there is more to the story.

We had not seen the protected spring projects yet so we took a little tour with our contractor, Eddy Mutebi, and our site monitor, Ssinbwa Busulwa, to look at five of the springs they have developed (only 5 of 60 that they are constructing).  Ssinbwa was elated when Farrell asked him if he would like to drive our truck. These springs are deep into the bush and the roads are not roads but walking trails. Farrell was elated when Ssinbwa jumped at the chance. I’m sure it was no reflection on Farrell’s ability to drive here on the wrong side of the road and Ssimbwa’s desire to have a little control over his destiny.

People usually gather water early in the morning or late in the evening. They often have to walk a great distance hauling water back up the hill to their home. The water source is often a small water hole or a natural ditch runoff or maybe a small swampy pond. The source is always clouded with dirt and bacteria and the shallowness of the source makes it difficult to fill a container.

The concept of a protected spring is quite simple but it takes a good contractor to do the job right. In the area around Kampala you can find many springs on a hillside. You can stand on the hill and spot water seeping down the hill coming from many directions.

The idea is to build a cement wall up against the hill much like a retaining wall cementing two to three, 2 inch PVC pipes into the wall. A metal pipe is secured like a sleeve over the PVC to secure and protect it. You build steps on the sides of this wall leading down to the pipes and lay a layer of cement, gravel or even tile at the base of the wall for water to splash onto to prevent erosion and to provide a clean area for collecting water. Once the wall is built you dig out the hill behind the wall, lay down a layer of clay as an impermeable layer. Then you lay a stack of small gravel up against the hill, then larger rock up to the cement wall.
You cover this catchment basin over with a sheet or polyurethane then dirt and vegetation; you then build a fence around the catch basin area to keep people from walking on it and packing the soil down. The springs feed water down to the catchment basin and gravity pulls it down to the cement wall barrier and on out through the pipes. The water has been virtually filtered by the layer of rock and clear, clean water is the results. So where people have been laying their jerrycan down in a stream or pool of dirty water they now can fill cans readily via the developed springs.

The best part of this story is actually seeing what use to be and what is now. It was amazing to see what a beautiful water site people have now to get their water.

Namungogna Protected Springs gives 80 liters in 40 sec. per pipe

When our contractor, Union of Community Development Volunteers - Uganda started to develop the spring they had quite an audience. It seems the UK, USA, and other international NGOs (nongovernmental org.) had tried to develop this spring and had failed. They all showed up at the worksite everyday taking notes and learning how to develop a successful protected spring. The villagers said the others had not been successful because of the forest gods from above the site had confounded their work.
The worksite was a day of celebration everyday of construction as the community turned out in mass to watch the project.

Eddy Mutebi is our contractor and execute director of the UCDV

At one of the springs there is the Bugolo Junior School where a rainwater catchment system was installed.  They placed rain gutter around the school and channeled it to a large tank.  The latrines were redone and water was diverted to the latrines to supply a washing station for the children.  The project including the improvement of 15 schools..
The school grounds were clean and the rail fence was painted with health suggestions.
The head mistress of the school was so grateful for all the work and it was obvious she was trying to help the school live up to the upgrade they were given.

More spring
mamma needs the water now
boys stole her cork and she had to chase them down to get it.
got to have the cork in the hole so it doesn't splash
banana - cork - what ever it works
about 30 pounds on my head
I am really good at this!
It's his job to get the water
It takes a lot of containers when you're small and can't lift those sixty pounders
working that hard you may need a little treat for your efforts
A sucker makes it seem a lot easier.
Right in the center - look hard - you can see the spring
Clean water captured from a spring running right through the center of the housing!
As we finished our tour for the day we were walking back to our truck and Farrell went to jump over some mud landing on some debri which gave away and his shoe sunk in to the not so pleasant smelling goo. Ssimbwa said, “Don’t worry Elder Barlow, it probably isn’t sewage.” (even if it smelled like it.) Eddy Mutebi,execute director of UCDV immediately went to a near by lady washing clothes got a bucket of water and a cloth, knelt down in the dirt and washed Elder Barlow’s shoe. It was such a tender gesture.  We were so overwhelmed we didn't take a picture.
On the ride back we passed the rice paddies
and papyrus growing on the side of the road

Ssimbwa said this was the Lake Road - very expensive frontage property.
Such a nice lake that this guy decided to stop and wash his bodaboda.
- and these guys their truck.
What a great day.  We now have a better idea of the value of these 60 springs that are being constructed.  Eddy Mutebi is a returned missionary who has a great vision.  He has a skilled,knowlegeable crew, a solid company and they are having great success.  We are in awe of this work. 
We say it again . . . Clean Water is Life!


Christie said...

My parents are awesome!!!

Shirlene said...

This is Anthon, Micaela and Lauren:

We miss you! We just looked at your blog and we are glad you are doing good things. We love you!!

Scarehaircare said...

I love how you added the technical drawing of the spring engineering. Very cool that other groups were taking notes of how to build a successful spring.