Field Visit Part 3 – Kigezi & Chlorine habits
We travel to Kigezi in the 4x4. Franco, our delightful driver, protector and all-round favoured man-child stops to buy a shellsuit jacket. Think 90s colours. He complains that it’s too cold in Kigezi for a man like him. He’s true, Kigezi is mountainous, beautiful and much colder than you’d assume for Uganda. Through Afrinspire we had come across the Kigezi Diocese Water And Sanitation project http://www.kigezi-watsan.ug/, an amazing organisation that’s been running WASH projects in the region for the last 20 years. Kigezi is very rural, one of the most beautiful parts of Africa I’ve ever visited, and much poorer than Mbarara. The poverty line in Uganda is quite clearly demarcated between rural and urban. The rural population is far less likely to have access to improved water services or on-site sanitation.
The team at the Kigezi WASH project show us around the village – they show us lots of rainwater harvesting tanks, an impressive gravity-feed system and the distance that people have to walk to fetch water from a river. They told us of a climate paradox the community faced. Most people used to live by the river, but a series of strong rains caused landslides that destroyed houses at the base of the valley. As a result, the communities gradually moved up towards the top of the mountains. This means they’re more protected from landslides, but it means the women and children have to walk up and down an impossibly steep mountain to reach water. This is where rainwater harvesting has proved to be very useful – to provide redundancy in water supply by providing communities with water storage during the rainy season. We discuss the use of chlorine in the communities, but it becomes clear that our solution is much more appropriate for people living in urban environments who have piped water in their homes.
We head back to Kampala for the final days of our field visit and meet with a chlorine manufacturer who is very keen to partner with Blue Tap to provide chlorine for the plumbers and beneficiaries in Mbarara at an affordable price. We discuss supply chains, future collaboration and the future of Blue Tap in Uganda. We feel that there’s been such buzz over our visit to Uganda, we can’t wait to get back to the lab, keep testing our product until we have our MVP and then head back here in 2019 to build on the amazing collaborations we’ve kick-started.