Similar to what oil was for the 20th Century, water will be the commodity that determines both the wealth and health of nations. One of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030) is to ‘ensure access to water and sanitation for all’, highlighting the timely importance of investigating the intersect between water and health.
There is an increasing recognition that problems of human health are embedded in socio-ecological systems and in order to address them, one must investigate the interplay between the environment, social systems and human health. The Ugandan Field School was designed to provide innovative 'feet-on-the-ground' learning experiences that embrace the intersection of cultural, social, economic, environmental, and health studies on present-day communities-at-risk in Africa.
This three-week intensive field school examined the importance of water in Uganda. The course started in Entebbe, then moved to Jinja, where the headwaters of the Nile River are located. Next, the course moved to Kibale National Park in the tropical rain forest. During the two weeks in Kibale, the students explored human pressures on the planet (logging, agriculture, and human settlements) while tracking water from headwater streams to the African Great Lakes. The students gained an understanding of the ways that human activities impact the landscape, and the effects of watershed-scale impacts on downstream water bodies. They also learned about the effects on human health and well-being in a place that is home to some of the most vulnerable and at-risk communities.
You can follow the student's adventures in Uganda in 2017 by reading their blog posts on Western University's African Experiences Abroad Platform.