It’s been a few weeks now since I returned from visiting Uganda as part of our H2Orb project, for which Astrosat and Aqsen have partnered up to help fish farmers on the Ugandan side of Lake Victoria get better yields from their fish farms using in-situ probes in combination with satellite data to better forecast and mitigate any issues which could affect fish health.
I flew out to Uganda on a stakeholder engagement mission, to find out find out what challenges they face and what fish farmers, amongst others, need.
The thing I remember most from this trip is the openness and friendliness of the people, akin to local communities in Scotland where you become an adopted citizen by taking part and helping with community activities. During the trip, while talking with one of the fish farm cooperatives, I found the exact same behaviour and I was adopted as a tribe member. I am now a proud Basoga. This openness extended to a passion and desire to help me understand their needs for technology and how it can enable them to monitor fish cages and the surrounding environment.
Fish farmers, government officials and the academic community all need to monitor water quality more accurately, but each have a different motivation for doing so. We travelled around Lake Victoria, going from Entebbe all the way up to Jinja (the source of the Nile). There are many fish farms in the area around Jinja, some large organisations but also some small cooperatives. It allowed me to better understand the socio-economic impact that these large and small organisations have on communities around Lake Victoria and therefore, it drives us now more than ever before, to deliver this project successfully.
Travelling on the roads between Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja, you quickly realise that despite a number of cultural similarities to Scotland, things are unfortunately different in other areas such as social deprivation and extreme poverty. So, how can Astrosat help?
Projects like H2Orb help communities optimise what they currently have. By monitoring water quality and raising alerts at the right time, fish farmers can enact interventions to safeguard their livestock and prevent huge loss of yield. This helps to preserve their income and where possible, share their wealth beyond their community. This small step change in how fish farms leverage technology can bring huge socio-economic benefits whilst also providing opportunities for growth of the aquaculture sector in Uganda and neighbouring countries.
Did you know that Uganda has strong ties to Scotland? The new parliament in Kampala resembles the old Scottish parliament. Also, the road which links the parliament to the King’s palace is called the “Royal Mile”.
Before the trip, Astrosat and Aqsen joined forces to raise a small collection of sanitary products which I took along with me to donate to the Uganda Cheshire Home (a home for Ugandan orphans and disabled children). This charity was selected by our local project partner, Makerere University, the oldest university in East Africa. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Uganda Cheshire Home for orphans and disabled children to make our donation. During my visit I observed the determination and tenacity of the older children who start learning trades such as woodwork and metal work to custom-build prosthesis and wheelchairs for the younger children in the home who were living with permanent disabilities. I look forward to supporting this incredible charity once again during a future visit to Uganda, and to completing and delivering the H2Orb project so that Astrosat and Aqsen can play a small part in making a valuable contribution to improving the life of communities in Uganda.