A Travellerspoint blog

Resolving Conflict

The Water Tank, Tear Gas and Being Beaten

semi-overcast 25 °C

‘How do you resolve conflict?’ asked the lecturer last week for our topic on relationships. Students started responding:
‘When there is a conflict in the village, the chiefs meet the two parties under the tree and beat the party they believe is in the wrong.’
‘In Kampala, when there is conflict the police control by tear gas’

Multicultural learning is not limited to the classroom- we’ve had the opportunity to work on real-life conflict resolution at the base this week with a water crisis. The town water has stopped, which means that most of the base (maybe 50 people) are sharing the rainwater tank at the side of our dorm. It's a big plastic tank, but it's not THAT big!
A crisis like this highlights massively different expectations and reactions.

There has been no rain for the last few days so the water is not being replenished and is going down quickly. When the rainwater has gone, we will have to lug water back from a leech-infected stream, which will take more time and effort and forward planning. So my view is… let’s conserve the water we have, but this conflicts with the attitude ‘when it’s gone, it’s gone, so let's just use it until it's gone’…


There are other conflicts surrounding the water issue, such as why rainwater harvest tanks are not attached to each building. The are more buildings being built on the base, but rainwater tanks are not a priority, even though if each building had one there would not be this crisis. It is rainy season here and we see an abundance of rain quite often at the moment, which is good news for our water tank but unbelievably frustrating to see so much water wasted as it tumbles from the sky onto the roof… and flows away in muddy rivers....
Lots of rain!

Lots of rain!

Our American colleague, Christian tries to collect water in his kettle

Our American colleague, Christian tries to collect water in his kettle

We had a community meeting yesterday to try and resolve some of the conflict (unfortunately we didn’t use the method of meeting under a tree and beating the wrong party) and we came up with three basic rules…

1. recycle water to use for the toilets
2. only go to the bathroom if you have collected dirty water to wash the waste away
3. no more urinating in the shower area...

Other suggestions could have been that It would good to make use of the long-drop toilets more often. These don't require any water, though they can be more hazardous if the person before you hasn't got accurate aim. The long- drop is also a very good test of your quadracep muscles while squatting.

In actual fact, it seems to me that building good quality long-drop toilets on the base instead of flush toilets would have made better sense for the culture and conditions. It doesn't seem that the town water is reliable, while flush toilets use a lot of water. Local people aren't used to Western-style seat toilets or flush systems, so it seems to make sense not to be relying on a flush toilet system anyway...

We are living in hope that the town water returns soon, that it rains tonight and tops up the tank, that our bladders become stronger, and that we start to live the reality of resolving conflict!
Amelie still needs to learn about conserving water...

Amelie still needs to learn about conserving water...

Posted by africraigs 13:39 Archived in Uganda

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The best long drop toilet I used had a toilet/commode over the hole. No squatting and no water needed!

by Denise

Will be praying that the town water is restored as soon as possible! Love and blessings
Eve, David and Jonathan

by Eve

Well you are certainly being tested at the moment!!!! But may I add are doing a grand job!!! Hopefully your diplomicy will be welcomed by many and yes water tanks on each provision would aleviate difficulties x crisis seems obvious to me!!!! But like you say this is where cultures and experiances differ!!!!!!! mel xxxx miss you all xxx

by mel taylor-hanks

I will pray for a builder/plumper to come, who can construct a water harvest system for the other buildings, so there will be plenty of water for everybody and everthing, whether in times of shortage or in times of plenty. Much love to you all xxx

by Jenny

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