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Sunday, 6 November 2011

Climate change and water

Climatic changes are happening in Uganda. On the one hand there is more erratic rainfall in the March to June rainy season, bringing drought and reductions in crop yields and plant varieties; on the other hand the rainfall, especially in the later rains towards the end of the year, is reported as coming in more intense and destructive downpours, bringing floods, landslides and soil erosion.

Over the last 100 years the frequency of drought has been increasing quite dramatically and a recent Oxfam Report on Climate Change in Uganda provides ample evidence that this is a real issue. The report is called Turning Up the Heat and can be read on the Oxfam site.

Most of us thought that the recent drought in Somalia and Kenya had not reached as far as our schools in Uganda. Sadly that was not the case. 2011 has been a really tough year and for the first time since St Zoe’s opened 10 years ago we have had to put back spend on infrastructure just to make sure that the children has food and water. This has often had to be purchased at prices several times greater than the normal prices.

In 2003 we had our first Water Harvesting project thanks to the support of the Bishop family and other donors. A part of this was the creation of a 250,000 litre underground storage tank with roof rainfall catchment. This was very successful but we had to augment the plan with a major extension and more tanks in 2010.

Water catchment is great if there is any rain to catch. This year there has been very little. Fortunately we have strong evidence that there is a very good water supply about 120 metres below ground level on land we purchased last year as part of our farm which feeds the children.

Now we are going to commission a hydrological survey to make absolutely sure that this is true before we invest up to £30,000 in sinking the borehole, installing the pumps which are solar powered, and erecting a large overhead storage tank so that the school buildings can be gravity fed.

This blog will keep you informed. Our Trustees decided that we will need to start a special appeal to help to fund this work but lets wait until we are sure that the water is there before we ask for help. We should know this in the next few weeks.

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