Engineers in Africa

Graduate students at the Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering and Andrew Quicksall, the J. Lindsay Embrey Trustee Assistant Professor at the Lyle School, are traveling to Africa in fall 2011 as part of a new water quality research program in refugee camps. The group is bringing back water samples for analysis in SMU labs, where undergraduate and graduate students are searching for elevated levels of contaminants that can cause health problems.

Success in Uganda

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

Training a partner from the Nakivale settlement to sample water.

The students have gone, and I leave tomorrow for Kakuma. I return to Nairobi on the weekend then head to Dadaab on Monday morning.

Uganda was a huge success, and these few days have also been fruitful as I have met UNESCO and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees-Kenya.

Heading back to the guest house in Kyangweli settlement. The roads and road use leave much to be desired.

Some of our field gear.

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Meeting with village leaders

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

Our team in Kyaka, including a field worker in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) from a German NGO, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees WASH field worker, and a settlement representative from the Office of the Prime Minister.

In these settlements they have a bit of self-governing. Family heads elect a village head, who acts as point of contact for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and their implementing partners.  These two villages both use the well and came to speak with us about issues.

Discussing water quality with the heads of adjacent villages.

One of our water probes in action.

 

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Where settlements spring up

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

A "town" in Khaka refugee sttlement in west-central Uganda.

In Uganda the settlements (not camps) are integrated with nationals.  They are also very rural and spread out.  Therefore villages or towns spring up like this one.

We found a lion in Nairobi National Park on a half-day safari.

 

Onlookers check us over.

 

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Sampling at Kirandongo

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

Great day today.  Up at 6 for a breakfast of starchy bananas in a groundnut sauce with fresh pineapple, passion fruit juice and coffee (all local).  Yum!

Making friends

Left the town of Hoima and hit the road for Kirandongo Refugee Settlement two hours north.  We had meetings with the Camp Commandant from the Office of the Prime Minister and the local Water Authority Representative.

We made it to the field for four hours and got to every water source in the settlement.  We had a great local contact named Joseph.  He and I plan to stay in touch. Sampling is great as we get to do our science but also meet the people.

We then left to drive northwest. First we crossed the Victoria Nile, then the Albert Nile. Between is a large national park, which we drove along the edge of.  Just before the second crossing and before we left the park we ran into all sorts of friends.

We finished in the town of Arua about 15 miles east from Congo and 30 miles south from Sudan.

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Building contacts in Uganda

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

We always draw a crowd.

We are now in Hoima and will visit and sample three settlements in the next three days. We have already done the two large ones south of here. Our reception has been great. There has been a good bit of meetings and contact building.

I have met with staffs from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the implementing partners, and the Office of the Prime Minister at each location.  By the end of each stop, everyone has been completely positive and is eager to have us back.

Our team at work.

Three days ago we visited the largest camp in Uganda and one of the oldest in the world that houses mainly Congolese and Somalis. It is located near the Tanzania-Rwanda-Uganda borders. Yesterday we visited a camp in central Uganda that houses mostly Congolese. Tomorrow and Thursday are two camps of mostly Congolese closer to Lake Albert in the west. Friday we go north across two segments of the Nile to two camps with many Sudanese.

A water sample, straight from the tap.

Saturday we will be back to Kampala after a seven-hour trek.  Sunday evening we will be back to Nairobi.

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Trip to Nakivale in Uganda

An update from Dr. Quicksall:

Sampling the surface water supply from a rickety dock.

Left Kampala this morning after security and country briefings last night. We made our way to Mbarara in the southwest. We paid a call to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ regional office there. We then had an hour and a half drive south toward the Tanzania-Rwanda-Uganda junction, where Nakivale Refugee settlement lies. We had about two hours there today.

Our field vehicle.

Tomorrow we head back to Nakivale, the largest Ugandan settlement, for a full day of water sampling.

 

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