On Wednesday, September 28, we spent the morning in the classroom, or rather a large tent. The Acholi pump mechanic and driller spoke to the class about the business aspects of pump repair and drilling, specifically, preparing Bills of Quantities. If you ever wanted to know how to say “6-inch slotted, thick walled PVC well casing” in Acholi, or to know the cost of galvanized pipe in Kampala versus Gulu, this was not a talk to be missed!
I went over the results and interpretations of our geophysical surveys to date. The technique of 1D resistivity soundings was developed in 1916 by Frank Wenner at the United States Geological Survey, and I may have a Nile Special beer tonight to celebrate the centennial anniversary. Though the method has become somewhat obsolete over the last 20 years in much of the world, it is actually remarkably effective in Northern Uganda for identifying aquifers. And unfortunately, I am old enough to have used and taught the technique extensively.
In the afternoon, we carried out surveys and hand pump repair at the nearby main campus of the University of Gulu, which in fact is short of water. I was grateful to have a day without a long, bone jarring drive to another remote location.
But on Thursday, one of our students guided us to his distant village of Oboo, in what I was told is the “famous” Lamogi County. We headed north on the road to Juba in South Sudan, and in the direction of where, according to this week's numbers from UNHCR, 400,000 refugees have crossed into Uganda. I was surprised to see only a few UNHCR supply trucks heading in the same direction. IsraAID staff just returned form a "needs assessment" of the camps in the Adjumani area. Medical care, food, educational resources, housing, and trauma counseling are all, of course, in desperate need. What struck me in their photos were the long lines of empty 5 gallon jerry cans neatly lined up near large, black, and obviously chronically empty 5,000 liter water tanks - obviously empty as there were no people filling the containers. We are expecting in our water exploration class next week a few WASH staff from NGOs working in the water supply sector at the camps.
There are no road signs to Oboo, and I doubt if you will find Lamogi on a map. According to the LC1 (Local Council) who introduced the village to us while the students and the one mzungu, me, stood around the faulty hand pump, it was here in 1911 that the Lamogi, armed with only bows and spears, successfully fought the British. And it was only when the British used gas to asphyxiate the Lamogi fighters who were hiding in the nearby Guru Guru caves, that the British gained the upper hand. And so I learned that perhaps the Germans do not have the dubious claim of having been the first to use chemical weapons in World War I, though all Ugandan students learn of the Lamogi Rebellion.
Well, the students quickly pounded out two geophysical surveys entirely on their own. And the water well was in need of far more parts than we had been lead to believe, or had brought. So, instead of returning early to Gulu, I walked the long path to the alternate water source the village was using, and got a bit of a Heritage Park-like tour of Acholi village life! Check out the photos
Blogging by Paul Bauman