A new clinic/hospital has been built in a remote, very hilly and difficult to access area in the southeast corner of the Kibaale District, eighteen miles from the district capital, Kibaale. It is on an “improved” road which connects with the two roads to Mubende and Kibaale. There are seven villages in the area, each having about 2,500 inhabitants, with the closest being Kihenduki and there will be a public spigot for them to collect water. It is about one mile from the Kabasera Birthing Clinic which will act as its maternity service. The well and pump at the Kabasera Birthing Clinic are very deep in the rock, and the distribution system is inadequate to support the additional 20,000 people near the new clinic/hospital even if we could find a way to distribute the water between the two sites.
The area is mountainous. Even though it’s only a mile, you’d have to dig through rock down one steep hill and up another. Even if we had the expertise to do it, the cost would be so much more than drilling the new well. In addition, the power to pump the water that distance and up a hill is not available. The topography of the local area is too difficult for such a system.
The nurse practitioner has been treating as many as 160 patients per month in her two-room house without water or electricity. The new building is almost completed but there is no additional funding for water or power.
We would drill, install a solar-powered pump on the clinnic/hospital property which would produce 30 gallons/minute, a water tank and tower with the capacity of either 5,000 or 10,000 liters depending on the location, solar panels and a gravity-fed piping system into the building. After we reach water, we always send samples to the national lab to make sure it is clean and potable. We would expect to get good clean water down that deep through rock. If it is not clean, we will chlorinate the water in the tank. This is not done unless necessary as they do not care for the taste, some are encouraged by the local witch doctor to think the Mzungu are poisoning them, and they might just keep going back to the dirty, muddy, disease-ridden water holes they have been using up to now.
The rate of return and the large storage tank will be sufficient for the local population. All 20,000 people the clinic/hospital will serve (the population in the area) will not use it (some will not want to pay the pennies per month!), but the amount of water it can pump could handle it if they did. Eventually, the tank may not be large enough, depending on how many people come, but it’s a really good start. The clinic has to be in operation for a long time and do specific things to be designated as a hospital. When that happens, the system might need to be upgraded but that’s years down the road, and in the interval, they would have clean water!
After the completion of the clinic building in February, I visited the location on March 12th. It was a difficult place to get to; even our experienced driver got lost on the way. The road was more like dirt path and it was challenging for the four-wheel drive Land Cruiser to navigate. After three hours, we arrived and were taken on a tour of the property by Rev. James of the local Anglican church. There is an abandoned borehole on the property which has been dry for several years. It was drilled to 200 feet and our hydrologist has indicated that the reliable water is much further down. We will have to drill outside of the clinic property which will add to the difficulty, requiring a larger pump, a greater number of solar panels and security measures to protect the system.
The drilling operation is on hold at the moment as the whole country is under a travel ban. When that is lifted, the work will start. It is frustrating as the community needs the clean water now. Having visited the area and talked with Rev. James and the nurse, Monica, who lives on the property with her husband and four children, it is a desperate need. They will open the clinic without a new borehole and use water drawn from a dirty stream a few kilometers down the mountain which will have to be boiled for 40 minutes to use.
They kept saying “thank you” and I wish I could adequately convey their gratitude to you. It was so heartfelt that I kept tearing up. There is no agency, no NGO, no international charity that knows and cares about this isolated place. Without Ingomar, the thousands of people who live in the area would continue to use dirty water and many would die.
Finally, after many delays due to the COVID pandemic, and then also further delays because of inaccessibility due to rainy season, they were able to get the drilling rig into Kabasera. But, after multiple attempts, the drilling rig failed to be able to find any area on the hill where the clinic is located where they could drill without hitting thick layers of rock. After many attempts and some damage to drilling gear, the team gave up.
Unfortunately, sometimes, this sort of thing happens. The geological survey showed some areas where it was determined that the rig could avoid the rock layers. But after drilling in those spots, it turned out to NOT be the case.
So, the drilling costs were incurred but in this case were unsuccessful. Still, Kabasera Clinic, while built on a hill that is practically solid rock a shallow distance under topsoil, the Clinic was still desparately in need of clean water. So the team started working on a “Plan B” which is a surface water collection, storage, and filtration system. For details on the project to implement “Plan B”, see Kabasera Medical Clinic Project – Part 2.