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Engineers Without Borders (EWB)Summer Visit to Kabingo Summary

By: Nathan Ashbrook (Miami EWB Uganda Team Project Manager)


EWB-Miami and EWB-WSU have recently returned from an implementation and assessment trip, respectively, in Kabingo. Wright State had two students and one mentor travel while Miami had 3 students and one mentor travel. This was the first time that any student had travelled on either of these teams, we all found the trip very informative, impactful, and overall pleasing. When we first arrived both WSU and Miami found several items that were dilapidated but not to the point that they could easily be fixed with some help and advice given to the community. We were also all very happy to see how our implemented systems were actively being used by villagers, with several community members also active in the maintenance of each item.


WSU's assessment trip successfully demonstrated where they are able to assist the secondary school's sanitation. Two specific areas of interest are drainage and ventilation in the latrines. WSU's assesment showed that proper drainage did not exist in most areas of the latrines so bodily fluids would sit on the floor rather than properly draining into the ground. Also it was found that the latrines did not ventaliate properly so there is a very strong odor inside the buildings, causing students to avoid using the latrines. WSU is now using this information to design modifications to washrooms so they are able to drain efficiently and ventilate properly.

Miami's Chapter of EWB travelled to Kabingo to implement a larger pump and pressure line to the treatment plant, and add a new train to the Pilot Plant to specifically be used by the clinic. The newly implemented pressure line from the Kibulazza Well to the Maria Hill Treatment plant went smoothly. EWB-Miami ordered/received and paid for a new solar panel from Waterworks to replace the broken panel that was taken from the booster station so the correct allotment of 30 solar panels are now active at the pump. Pump install went smoothly but there was an issue with the flow meter Waterworks installed. When EWB-Miami started our pump testing we noted that water was present under the glass of the meter, water was present on top of the meter, and a slow drip was occuring from the meter. We continued with the pump testing as it appeared that the gauges were still properly working. That evening when we were organizing our collected data we found that the gauge was not working properly, so we contacted Waterworks requesting for a new meter to be installed. A waterworks representative came out and installed a new meter for us, once we began our testing again an even larger leak started to occur. It was then discovered that the newly installed meter was only rated to 10 bar, not 16 as we should have received. Ultimately the meter from the old pump that David had in storage was installed and tested to verify that it was able to hold 16 bar without leaking. Pump testing continued using the meter from David's storage. The additional train to the Pilot Plant has been designed and surveyed for construction. Funding will soon be sent to David to construct this new train.


Miami found a possible issue with high Manganese levels in the water on the distribution side of the treatment plant. Further testing indicates that each pump has a safe level of manganese (according to WHO). So we have deducted that manganese is not being filtered out through our system as no bio layer is present on the filters. The high levels are suspected to have come from the manganese settling in the filter and being washed out for several days with the water, as the system had not run for several days before our water quality testing occurred (allowing the manganese to settle in the filter causing the higher concentration occurring during the time of testing). So we expect that after time has passed the settled manganese will wash away or be diluted back down to the safe levels seen at the pumps.

Besides Miami's planned activities we were able to advise David to use tire inner tube rather than zip ties for the aeration system, as the inner tube is more cost effective and readily available. Also we located a possible issue with foundation crumbling under the community implemented treatment train. Once we began to remove the foundation it was discovered that rebar was not used when concrete was poured, so a new foundation was set with rebar included. Miami also traveled to a neighboring community/orphan school that David was contacted by. We were able to advise school leaders of water quality issues within their system and advised them to apply for a EWB project with the Uganda office.



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