Hi all- this is just a really quick post (because my computer power is waning) to let you know we are all eagerly waiting to embark on our safari to Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda tomorrow. This will be our last full weekend in Africa. It is amazing how quickly this time has gone.
Today I woke up to LIGHT- the electricity was on. For the first time in days I was able to dress and get ready without using my flashlight. But, the excitement was short lived because by 8:30 or 9am it was already off and only returned a couple of hours ago. Now I have only 1 outlet with which to charge my laptop, iPad, iPhone, Uganda mobile phone, and camera. Yeah- I know this sounds crazy but all of these things have served me very well in different ways. Today I’ve been busy working on a project for The Water Trust. TWT is an NGO that works to improve access to water and provides sanitation and health education in Masindi District, Uganda. They began working here in 2008 helping communities who desire better water to dig shallow hand dug wells and install latrines. My project is two-fold. First of all I’m doing research to see if access to safe water is improving the health of villagers and second of all, I’m researching water testing supplies to help them find a more effective, reliable, and economical way to test for bacterial contamination (coliform and E. coli counts). I learned about their current process today and it is quite cumbersome and because of the many steps in the process that use reusable equipment, there are many potential sources of contamination which could lead to false positive results. Anyway, with the help of my brother, Tom Heikkinen (General Manager at the City of Madison, WI Water Utility) and his colleagues as well as the help of Brian Oram, Geologist and Soil Scientist of BF Environmental, I have learned a whole lot about water testing and have identified some potential products. Now I will need to contact the companies for prices and availability. So far I have identified the 3M product, Petrifilm EC Counts (E.coli and coliforms) and the Colilert test by IDEXX. The former is less expensive but I don’t think it is officially approved for water safety testing- just for food and dairy. If anyone out there has any advice or knows of other products that can be economical as well as reliable and easy to use for water testing in rural Africa, please leave a comment.
Hopefully I’ll be back in a day or two with some nice animal pictures from our game drives at Murchison Falls.