PONT’s University team link the University of South Wales with universities and community organisations in Mbale.
We share expertise through our research work, field trips and development projects. Many students and staff have visited Uganda and had chance to use their skills in a new context. Collaborating with health projects is saving lives.
Field courses and Student visits
University of South Wales students have the opportunity to visit Mbale as part of undergraduate and postgraduate courses:
They make a contribution to improving health and education, working with grassroots partners at the heart of communities. At the same time they gain practical, hands-on experience and go into their careers with a global perspective.
Staff and student projects make a lasting impact – sometimes a lifesaving difference.
The Almobile: On rough terrain in a mountainous region, people in many parts of Mbale struggle to get relatives to a health centre when they’re ill or injured. As part of his final year project in 2011, Mechanical Engineering student Al Mazroui designed a mountain hand-stretcher that does the job safely and quickly. 30 stretchers are now used by PONT’s health network.
Namatala latrines: Namatala is one of the poorest areas of Mbale. Professor Dave Jenkins worked with Namatala Community Development Organisation (NCODO) to understand what would help them most. They decided to build toilets and the University of South Wales got behind the project and raised the funds needed. The 7 toilets are the first public flush latrines in the area, where bad sanitation causes disease.
Health science lecturers have worked with Ugandan midwives and NGOs to train our volunteer healthworkers.
Lecturer Jeff Evans spent 3 months in 2018 on placement with the Ugandan Red Cross, who respond to floods, landslides and disease outbreaks. 15 students from the MSc Disaster Healthcare and MSc Hazard and Disaster Management courses then delivered training to local branch volunteers. Read more
Geography students have worked with Bunghoko Rural Development Centre to train locals in two villages in Solar Disinfection (SODIS). Done correctly, this simple technique means placing empty plastic bottles filled with water on rooftops in the sun kills off almost all bacteria and other pathogens in the water and makes it safe to drink.
Other Geography projects have supported water quality testing, surveys for micro-hydroelectric projects, developing new models of sustainable development in Namatala slum and reducing landslide risks in Bududa.
Researching better health
USW researchers have provided academic back-up for PONT’s health network model, with impact assessments and monitoring and evaluation of the health teams. They have collaborated on research into the diagnosis and management of diabetes.
A group of USW researchers are currently working with Ugandan NGO FDNC to develop a pilot food security project. The project would improve soil fertility and retention and test the introduction of hybrid seeds in three villages, while training youth as advisors.
The PONT workshop makes the stretchers – a perfect example of PONT’s links working together. Being part of the PONT family makes the impact of student projects go further.
Climate change is very real for people in Mbale. Weather patterns are changing and affecting crops. When heavy rain comes, landslides happen on land where trees have been chopped down and crops grown on steep slopes, and sometimes they are fatal.
Action by USW’s Marga Quince and Tony Harris has led to tree planting projects in Mbale schools, the Mbale Coed group and the Mbale Trees project as part of Size of Wales. Every child born or adopted in Wales now gets a certificate to say a tree has been planted in their name – they are aiming for 10 million trees! Read more on our Environment page.
Watch: MSc Geography students own story of their visit to Uganda – with tree planting, community engagement, drinking water training, workshops with local students – and maybe a little dancing!
Watch: 10 years after Geography students took part in water testing in Mooni, there have been no cases of cholera reported amongst the 8,000 residents
Watch: The mountains of Bududa District in Mbale region made a beautiful backdrop for a football match between USW students and Bukalasi Secondary School pupils.
Why it works
PONT’s approach is to empower people to develop their own interests, projects, and initiatives. Within the framework of the community link, students and researchers can bring their own skills and expertise to what they are most passionate about.
All of the PONT University projects are united by wanting to give people who live in poverty the knowledge, resources and opportunities to confront challenges that seriously impact their communities. They’re linked in to a holistic family of PONT projects so the whole is bigger than its parts.
Quite simply, mountain stretchers and clean water are saving lives.
But we’re also having an impact in Wales – PONT’s unique range of links are bringing together experts from across departments at USW.We’re building a network of people linked by roots in South Wales who care about Uganda.
Visits to Mbale are opening up new global perspectives for students from Wales – and for the Ugandan young people and community members they work alongside.