Swim Blue completed its fourth annual humanitarian project, once again helping provide fresh water for orphans in UgandaIn November 2010, Swim Blue’s Steve and Linda Kovacs were part of a team of 15 taking part in a fourth trip to Uganda, to help provide an infrastructure for sustainable fresh water to this thirsty region. Orphanages in the area are being shut down because of a lack of safe water, as existing reservoirs are becoming contaminated.
The only hope for these communities, made up largely of orphans from ongoing civil wars and AIDS, is to provide new access to water supplies.
One of the many objectives of these humanitarian trips is to help people of the region learn how to sustain themselves, by teaching and assisting as they achieve the desired results. Our team brought technology and know-how, then helped the Watoto villagers build an effective rainwater harvesting system to provide vital fresh water for the entire village.
The trip was a huge success. The team worked with locals in the village of Gulu in northern Uganda, setting up a 50,000 liter fresh water purification system for the Watoto orphanage. The system will support a community of 500-700 people.
Existing wells have become contaminated, and are expensive to construct. Rainwater collection systems are effective and much less costly than building new wells. The team worked alongside locals to help build and install the system, but acted in an educational and advisory role, to ensure that the community gained enough knowledge and expertise to build more of these systems on their own, allowing that technology to expand to other areas of the continent. Although the village does have electrical power, solar collectors were installed to take advantage of the region’s abundant sunshine to power the pumping system without drawing on the existing power grid.
“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”
The Canadians arrived with about 10 large duffel bags of supplies for the children, ranging from clothing to school supplies. These were handed out directly to teachers and others who could distribute the materials in such a way that they weren’t directly connected to the arrival of these visitors from the West. This strategy allows the village to manage its own growth and development.
Team members also assisted by teaching in the local schools, helping the local people in many ways, and providing valuable consulting services.
Water: threatened, precious commodity
Throughout Africa, water supplies are threatened. How these valuable efforts are making a difference. Villages in Africa face a tremendous threat as water supplies are rapidly become contaminated with chemicals such as cyanide and lead due to poor well design. In some cases, entire communities are forced to abandon their homes as the village water supply turns deadly. Rainwater harvesting systems provide a sustainable, solar-powered supply of fresh water.
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