Saturday, May 16, 2009

The ACTS Camp

On Wednesday and Thursday this week I had the opportunity to spend time in the project camp for Africa Community Technical Service (ACTS), one of the organizations I'm hoping to partner with (that's still not finalized yet, which I'll discuss in a moment). The camp is located just outside the small village of Ncera, about a two hour drive south west of Mbarara. It's made up of about 15 tents, a small office, a kitchen and a small dormitory. The camp serves as the living quarters for the construction and engineering team that builds out the gravity flow systems (GFS) that ACTS specializes in. The Ugandan construction team lives in the dormitories, and the visiting interns and engineers typically live in the tents.

I was visiting to get up to speed on the GFS design process, and to collect some software for the friction loss calculations. The current project in Ncera will serve about 5,000 people in several villages once complete. The water is delivered to communal 'tap stands', from which people can fill jerry cans to carry back to the their homes. On future projects, ACTS is looking to inorporate rainwater harvesting from the roofs of homes farther than 400 meters from tap stands. This will reduce the distance families need to travel to get water.

I also had the chance to observe a program called "Farming God's Way", taught by a young couple from the US. Farming God's Way is a version of conservation agriculture, which is essentially farming without irrigation, pesticides or fertilizers. We might call it organic farming in the US. Conservation agriculture increases yields for the local farmers, allowing them  to move beyond subsitance farming.

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