As we have in previous years our team was led this year to Palabek in far northern Uganda by Oppobo Witty who lived on this land many years but was displaced by the LRA War. He had five sons killed by the LRA, some before his eyes. But survivors of his family have recently resettled here and are trying to reestablish farms and communities.
Although it is not known outside this region, sustenance farmers in this area are facing famine and severe hunger. The typical wet and dry season cycle was disrupted by El Nino, according to local opinion, causing the last crop to fail in September when normally wet conditions turned dry. Although it is raining now, the next crop is not ready. We were able to distribute sacks of dry food such as beans and maize to alleviate the immediate hunger. But we also brought seeds so that their next planting season would be good.
A few items we brought to Palabek were big hits, namely the soccer balls, baseballs and bats. The kids here have no toys- nothing. So a real toy brings all the kids running and cheering. The other item the women were delighted with was a ¼-acre drip irrigation kit. This will allow them to irrigate vegetables during the dry season using groundwater from the nearby water well we drilled in 2014.
We took water samples from both Palabek wells for E. Coli bacteria. We chose the more productive of the two wells to install one of the donated In Situ Troll 100 transducer. This instrument will allow us for the first time to monitor seasonal water level and temperature trends, and also see the effects of daily pumping by area residents. The data will contribute greatly to our understanding of the sustainability of the groundwater resources in Uganda as people increasingly turn to this resource for clean drinking water. We are grateful to the In Situ Company for their generous donation.
Today we traveled about 60 km to a small village called Opit and another called Awere. We were formally received in Awere with a village delegation, dancing and singing, and speeches from the village leaders. Their water well broke 7 months ago and we sampled a spring they are now forced to rely on for drinking water. As the spokesperson for H2O, Tom was the proud recipient of two plump chickens given by the village in honor of our visit.
At Opit we met the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu for a tour of the newly constructed goat house and fence. H2O has entered a business partnership with this community of nuns for rearing of boer-cross goats to sell to support our clinic on the FEM Farm. Sister Zapporo there has formal training in agricultural and animal husbandry. Moreover, she is a ball of fire and totally excited to jump into this project.
H2O drilled a new water well at the goat property. We chose this well to monitor water level trends and temperature with the Solinst Levelogger transducer, donated by Solinst of Canada. This instrument will give us a long term record of seasonal water level trends and impacts of daily pumping for human and animal use. Such data are not available that we have seen. We are grateful to Solinst for this generous donation.