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Promoting sustainable underground water sources in Uganda.

Carry out field research, establish and organize the construction of connected water wells in Kaabong, Uganda.

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How does your idea apply new technologies to make agriculture and water systems more resilient in the face of climate threats?

Our idea will provide the local communities in Kaabong, Uganda, with a network of water wells connected by channels from different wells. In this technology, the wells will provide water to the communities from the water level at their bottom and along the channels connecting them, since the channels will also be running along the water level within the rocks or soil. Thus increasing amounts of collected water. The well water will also be guided to the farms by a simple setup irrigation system.


1. Our project will start with a 1-day awareness raising campaign in Kaabong district, carried out in 3 communities, a day each, by our institution, informing the locals and local government officials about the research to be carried out in their community and how they can assist the team carrying out the research. The awareness raising campaign will help create partnerships between the local government officials, locals and our project team, therefore avoiding local conflicts. The awareness raising campaign will be attended by local tribal leaders, local government officials, our partners or donors, 1 person from the engineering team and the locals within the selected communities. At least 40 people will attend each community raising campaign.

  1. Carry out, repackage, publish and disseminate, a 3 months, research report carried out in Kaabong district, on determining the availability of rock water, the topography of the area, what people use water for, the areas to be supplied, where the wells will be dug, routes for channels connecting the wells, and the safety guidelines to be followed during construction. The report will also provide our team with an accurate project cost estimate, that will be used for further fundraising. The research will be disseminated to our interested partners, who may fund the total project cost or provide partial funding. Our current project estimate cost is provided for under our project proposal (to be availed in 14 days), hence the project costs will be made more accurate after the research.
  2. Attend meetings with local government officials in Kaabong district on accessing a legal local government license to carry on with the project in the district. The meetings will be carried out for a period of 4 months, since the countries policies require consultations with different authorized local officials before beginning the construction process of the project.
  3. Organize a 1-day awareness raising campaign in Kaabong district, carried out in 4 communities, a day each, by our institution that will inform the locals about the implementation process of the project to be carried out in their community and their duties, responsibilities in relation to the project. The campaigns will also be used to call on all the locals in the four tribal communities, that is, the IK, Mening, Nyangea and Dodoth, to apply for jobs provided by the project, please see, page 8. The call for jobs will not discriminate and will call on both women and men to apply, unless culture bars any. Finally, the awareness raising campaign will help create a partnership between the locals and the project team, therefore avoiding conflicts with the locals. The awareness raising campaign will be attended by local tribal leaders, local government officials, our partners or donors, 1 person from the engineering team and the locals within the selected communities. At least 40 people will attend each community raising campaign.
  4. The locals, coming from the different tribes in the district, will be trained in Kaabong district, by the engineers, within 28 days, on how to dig wells and channels connecting such wells using the project provided simple, easy and cheap tools. The training will also create gender sensitive workers, who will work as a team and respect their teammates while implementing the project to success. At the end of the training, 2 well diggers and 1 well foreperson will be employed for each well, hence, 12 manual laborers and 6 forepersons will be employed by the project, adding up to 18 locals. Therefore, 6 wells will be constructed at the end of the project, each with 3 workers. The training will also be attended and observed by our institution staff and development partners or donors. At least, 50 people will attend the organized training.
  5. Establish, organize and manage the construction of 6 wells within 70 days, that is about 2 months, all starting on the same day, thus all the 6 wells will be dug and finished within 2 months in Kaabong district. After digging the wells, the locals will create channels within 91 days, connecting all the 6 wells, again starting on the same day. The construction of the wells and channels will be established, organized, managed and supervised by our engineering partners, M.B.J Technologies limited, who will ensure that the construction of the wells and channels is safe and falls under the safety guidelines demanded by policies. Our organization, MIGHT, together with our development partners or donors, will observe the construction and ensure that the engineering team fulfills its responsibilities and accountability obligations during the implementation of the project, in addition, we will contribute when called upon or available. This activity will benefit at least 18 locals directly; and at least 100,000 people in the district, who will; collect water from the project wells and irrigation system; repair and monitor the wells; share knowledge on how to construct wells; and construct wells in their communities, since they will remain with all the tools and knowledge used during the implementation of the project. However, the locals will not be encouraged to construct channels connecting wells, since this process is dangerous if not done in the presence of an engineer, so when the locals are scaling or growing the project by constructing wells in other communities, they will be encouraged to invite our organization, so that we can, through our engineering partners, connect the wells using underground channels. Hence, creating safe and sustainable partnerships with the locals in Kaabong district.
  6. Organize and create a simple ground irrigation system connected by small and shallow water trenches from which the well water will flow or be directed to the farmer’s land or animals, in Kaabong district, within 28 days. The system will separate and direct water to  farms with plants from places where animals drink, thence ensuring that; the water source (or wells) is not strained by the many locals; the locals save time by having well water channeled to their farms or animals or to a specific place; there is equal distribution of the water within the community; watersheds or ponds are created, by farmers, to collect and save well water and rainwater for irrigation and, where possible, rare fish; diseases from animals do not spread to human beings; and finally, avoid conflicts over limited resources or destruction of crops by animals, among others. Therefore, the activity ensures resilient agriculture and water systems in Kaabong. Our engineering team, with the guidance of an irrigation and nutrition expert, will design the simple irrigation system, which will be created by the locals. The irrigation system will benefit at least 50 farms, in 1 year, and at least 200 cattle keepers in 1 year. The irrigation system will not use electricity or an electric pump, but a simple method to bring water to the surface like suction, among other methods. This will make the project easy to replicate by the locals. This activity will be observed by our organization staff and development partners or donors, who will contribute when called upon or available.
  7. Organize a safe water test in Kaabong district, within 7 days. The test will be carried out by our engineering partners, M.B.J Technologies limited, who will test the quality of the rock water before commissioning the project. The activity will be attended by our staff and development partners or donors.
  8. Draw, review, produce and disseminate the As-built drawings / maps of the project. The maps will be disseminated to the local government and community leaders who will use the information on the maps to monitor, repair and protect the well system that has been constructed. The activity will take 14 days and will be carried out by the engineering team in Kaabong and Kampala districts.
  9. Organize, in Kaabong district, specifically near the project site, the commissioning of the project. The activity will be organized by our organization and will be held in 1-day. The event will be attended by key stakeholders including 2 journalists, 6 partners and/or donors, 5 local government officials, 4 local leaders, 18 locals who participated in the construction, 4 tribal leaders or their representatives, 3 interested regional NGOs, and 1 religious leader among others. At the event, the As-built drawings / maps will be officially handed over to the local government, and local leaders, who will be informed about their duties as the guardians of the constructed agricultural and water system. Speeches will also be made by the project coordinator from the engineering team, the executive director or programme officer of our organization, donors and partners, local government official, local leader and finally a religious leader. The event will be attended by 45 invited key stakeholders in the agricultural and water sectors. The event will also include a tour of the project site.
  10. Package, repackage, publish and disseminate a project research, in a 1-day meeting organized by our organization, in Kampala, about the facts, evidence, actual project cost and best practices collected during the implementation of the innovative project in Kaabong, Uganda. The meeting will be attended by 35 key stakeholders including, the minister responsible for local government, minister responsible for water, members from NGOs, international organization like UNDP, media, among others. The meeting will be organized in the 14th month after the month of commissioning the project. Speeches will be made by the project coordinator from the engineering team about the research, the executive director or programme officer of our organization, donors and partners, and ministers, among others. Finally, the full and summarized soft-copies of the project report will be shared or uploaded on our institution website for the world to read. Questionnaires will also be distributed at the meeting in order to receive opinions from unheard attendants at the meeting. At least, 1,000,000 people will be interested in the report, by the end of 1 year.

The partial implementation cost, that is, $383,334, indicated for construction, is an estimate provided for under our project proposal, which will be ready in 14 days, and covers all construction activities, except the accurate excavation of channels or construction of channels connecting the wells, especially the supports which will avoid the channel walls from collapsing on the workers. Thence, more accurate costs will be included after the field research in Kaabong is concluded. In the end, being an innovation, the actual accurate costs of the project will be indicated in the project report that will be disseminated in the meeting organized in Kampala for all interested parties to refer.

In conclusion, our project will last about 18 months and 20 days, in which we shall; carry out the field research; attend meetings with local government in order to attain a construction license; carry out construction of wells, channels and irrigation system; and, finally, organize the dissemination meeting. In addition, our project will, in as far as possible, not involve the use of pumps, drills or any modern or complex method or tools that the locals cannot afford or use easily, however, this will be done with the exception of constructing well channels. Given the high risk attached to well channel constructing, a few modern and expensive materials will be used in order to meet the safety guidelines and to protect the lives of the workers. Kindly note, that none of the modern and expensive methods used during the construction of the wells or channels will involve the use of electricity or fuel to create electricity, but simple local skills and tools that can be replicated by the locals.

Thank you for your kindness!

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We might try out the following lightweight experiments; I) Travel to Kaabong district and observe the grasses, plants or rocks that prove the presence of underground water; or II) Carry out research, in Kampala, Uganda, on the presence of underground water in Kaabong district, or presence of grasses, plants or rocks proving the presence of underground water or the type of soil for water well channel construction; or III) Both.

We are excited to learn about ideas at diverse stages of development. At what stage would you currently classify your idea as? (multiple choice)

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

How do you plan to grow or scale this idea?

The local communities in Kaabong will scale well construction, while the dangerous channel construction will be scaled with our assistance and engineering partners, once called upon. In addition, we will further scale this idea by researching on the presence of an underground water fossil in Uganda, specifically in the drought affected districts of Kotido, Kaabong and Moroto. Once discovered, the fossil will be used wisely to provide water to South Sudan, Kenya and, where possible, Ethiopia.

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

The OpenIDEO community would help us in the following ways. By; I) Referring and/or connecting our organization to development partners interested in our idea; II) Partnering with our organization as interested development partners or trainers or advisors; III) Fully or partially funding the field research of the idea, costing $71,906; IV) Fully or partially funding both the field research and partial construction costs, at about $383,334. The latter costs are indicated in our project proposal.

This idea emerged from:

My idea emerged from the BBC human planet series, on deserts, episode 2. In the episode, BBC documented, partly, the way Algerians in the Sahara Desert create channels between wells to increase their supply of water in the harsh conditions of the desert. This documentary forced me to think of and area and a way of applying this amazing technology in Uganda. It's through this thinking that I identified the poor and hungry people in Kaabong who would benefit from an idea like this for many years.

Tell us about your work experience:

Minority Rights Foundation Uganda (MIGHT), is a non-profit, advocacy, litigation and community development institution that promotes peace, human rights and sustainable development in Uganda. MIGHT has been actively engaged in community matters affecting minorities since 2014 and created the Sexual offences and Related Matters bill, 2015, a bill that opposes the Anti-homosexuality bill, 2010. MIGHT was registered in 2016 and continues to actively represent the interests of minorities in Uganda. MIGHT is composed of three staff members namely; Mpagi Derrick, the Executive Director; Kamurungi Daphine, the programme officer; and Nabagesera Susan, the accountant. Also see our attached resumes.


Join the conversation:

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Hi Derrick!

Great to have you onboard! We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.

Photo of derrick Mpagi

Thanks for the message. Yes, it is my intention not to publish at the moment, but I will as soon as it is finished.