Rebuilding villages in Northern Uganda one well at a time

The 2023 field program evolved from the 2018 GWB‑supported rural water supply program in the Acholi-speaking districts of Northern Uganda (Acholiland). The goal of the 2023 program was to provide improved access to groundwater to rural communities in Acholiland. Canadian geophysicists and hydrogeologists from BGC Engineering provided technical guidance to 27 Acholi trainees. IsraAID, a nonprofit organization, was GWB’s partner in providing logistical support to the project team.

Between 5–20 February 2023, Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) and terrain conductivity surveys were used to site water wells in 10 villages and one school. Over the same period, non‑functioning hand pumps were repaired in nine villages.

To date, five of the village exploration water wells have been successfully drilled using manual drilling methods and completed with hand pumps. The five new wells benefit an estimated 3,080 villagers and the nine repaired wells benefit an estimated 6,920 villagers The ongoing drilling of a further eight wells will benefit an additional 3,010 villagers and 1,200 primary school students. The total cost of each constructed well and hand pump — including materials and labor — is less than US$2,200. The 27-Acholi participants (all of whom also had participated in the 2018 GWB project)  received ongoing training and experience in community engagement, geophysical water exploration, borehole geophysics, manual hand pump repair, water quality testing, microbial water testing, and hand pump performance evaluation.

Most of the Acholi trainees had previously  suffered as child soldiers, human beasts of burden, internally displaced persons, or their lives were simply disrupted during the civil war with the Lord’s Resistance Army. Few of these trainees also had university training.

The long-term goal of the 2018 and 2023 GWB water supply campaigns is that the trainees can carry on, independently, with rural water supply development. Based on interviews with 17 of the Acholi students in the 2023 program, they have individually (i.e., there is no duplicate counting) carried out 570 resistivity surveys, drilled and completed 369 water wells and hand pump installations, and repaired 1,054 water hand pumps.  Today, almost all the Acholi program participants are working either part-time or full-time in various aspects of rural water supply, with many having created their own water supply businesses.

Learn more about this project.

By: Paul Bauman, Principal Geophysicist, BGC Engineering
PI for GWB’s Uganda water projects