This field course examined how humans are challenging the planet in ways that place some of the most vulnerable people at risk. Our investigations into Planetary Health were framed using using the River Continuum Concept, tracking water from headwater reaches to great lakes, and also explored the risks to ecosystem functions and services caused by human activities along the river continuum.
This three-week field school started when the ABATE team landed in Kampala, Uganda’s capital and largest city. The next day, the team traveled to the city of Fort Portal and the districts of Kabarole and Kamwenge, where Kibale National Park lies. The Kibale is located in a forest that is home to the world’s largest biomass of primates per square kilometer, including endangered chimpanzees, the red colobus monkey, and the rare L’Hoest’s monkey. The ABATE team visited a diversity of environments in the rainforest, from small streams and wetlands to extensive papyrus swamps. ABATE students learned about human-nature interactions and completed community-engagement projects, where students collaborated with community groups to assess challenges and opportunities and ultimately launch sustainable projects designed to support the community’s long-term well-being. These projects included a community water well, a community garden, and a company that rents equipment (like chairs and tents) for events.
After the students departed from Kiblae, they visited Queen Elizabeth National Park, the African Great Lakes, and Lake Katwe, where they explored human-nature interactions and the implications for human health and well-being. The field school ended in the city of Jinja, on the shores of Lake Victoria. The students visited the source of the Nile River, which drains through South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt and ultimately to the Mediterranean Sea, to explore the dependency of people on water.