After a loong long hiatus, we’re back.
We returned from Uganda in November, and we’ve been working on developing and selecting our final concept.
Right now, we are back in Delft and working on prototyping our concept. This is us testing batteries to see how long they take to charge and discharge.
Today is a sad sad day. We are leaving Uganda and returning to Delft to complete our project.
We’ve met so many wonderful people and made a lot of friends, but our colourful trip has come to an end.
For those in Holland, we hope to see you soon. (Feel free to welcome us with gifts, food, favours, etc.)
And for our friends here in Uganda, we can only hope that one day we will have the means to return to this beautiful country and to meet again.
We spent our time in Mbarara and the last few days in Kampala to visit some more battery charging stations, and to research the costs of the possible system components.
Urban battery charging stations are quite different to ones in the rural areas, as the majority of the batteries charged are for cars rather than households. Still, we were able to understand some of the issues faced by these people, such as extended power cuts paralyzing their business.
During our stay in Rubirizi, we also spent a few hours tracking chimps in the Kalinzu Forest Reserve. Led by our guide and a somewhat intimidating chimp tracker armed with a machete, we chopped our way through the forest, sliding through the mud and climbing across streams. All worth it for getting a close look at a young chimp, several monkeys and the feeling of getting completely lost in the cool, dark forest.
Rubirizi is located nearby Queen Elizabeth National Park, almost 2000 square kilometers in size and home to nearly 100 species of mammals. So of course we had to go on a safari while we were there.
We hung out with warthogs, spotted some lions and even got stuck in the mud (more than once!)
It was unlike anything we have experienced on this trip, and quite overwhelming to see the wealth that Uganda has to offer. We also did not forget to make a note of the immense potential for cooperation between elephants and biogas digesters. (1 adult elephant = 100 kg of dung per day!)
Unique High School
During our stay in Rubirizi, we also got to play in a students vs. teachers football game with Unique High School. We played terribly of course (perhaps with the exception of Daniel) but the students were kind enough to let us get away with a 3-3 tie.
Afterwards, the students danced and sang for us, and it was simply incredible. We really enjoyed getting to know them, and were amazed by their talents.
We would like to thank Sander for introducing us to the school, and for giving us the opportunity to share our work with the students there.
In Rubirizi, we were fortunate enough to pay a visit to Unique High School, and give a lesson on energy to the S1 (Secondary 1) students. We talked about energy sources and renewable energy, explaining to them our project and the way in which energy can be extracted from biomass.
We really enjoyed meeting the students and sharing with them the work that we have been doing for our project.
Before we left the islands, we also paid a visit to Nazareth Primary School in Lutoboka (again)
We had brought over a lot of pens, paper and other materials for our research, but since our planned methods did not work so well with the locals, we decided to donate them to the school.
It was good to see our cards finally being put to good use.
After a long silence, we are back online. After the islands, we traveled to Western Uganda and spent some days in Rubirizi. Sadly, our Orange internet stick was not really working there (even phone connections were a mess) so we have been offline for quite some time now.
We are now in Mbarara, making a stop on our way back to Kampala. But first, a quick summary of our last days on the islands:
We visited the villages of Kizi and Kanyongoga to interview some villagers about their energy use and living conditions.
We also went to the only battery charging station on the island, at Bumanji. It is powered by solar panels, and can only charge three batteries at a time. With their current set-up, they are able to charge a battery in 2-3 days.
We also went back to Mwena for some more interviews, including one with the owner of a large pig & chicken farm. He is obviously also in a position to provide the biogas system with a lot of feedstock (!)
We also met Bery Glaser, who runs a sexual health clinic in Mwena. He is providing a home to young girls who have been abused or suffered from sexually transmitted diseases. He told us of the problems of the islands.
The main source of income for many households is fishing. This has serious implications for the social issues on the islands. Fishermen travel to where the fish is, so often end up moving around and have multiple partners. This drastically increases the occurence of sexually transmitted diseases, and most importantly HIV. Fishermen who drown out on the lake, combined with a high HIV infection rate have also led to a large number of orphans. These children who end up with no real mother or father to take care of them are often abused or forced into prostitution. Bery has set up a place they can call home, and helps them to recover in all senses of the word.
This post ends on this slightly sad note, but it was very important for us to understand the everyday reality that people here live with. Bery has given them a wonderful home, and it gives us hope to see people making a difference in these communities.