Jared Joseph-White: “The greatest experience of my life”

Jared Joseph-White is a third-year BA (Hons) Geography student at UWE, who travelled to Uganda in the summer of 2014 as part of the UWE Global Water Security Project.

The focus of my research was on water use and sanitation in schools. More specifically the study asked ‘to what extent do primary and secondary schools in Kanungu hold adequate water quality, water access and sanitation?’

The main participatory body of the research was Volunteer Uganda, the organising charity of the excursion to Kanungu, Uganda. Three research interns including myself were from the University of the West of England, one from the University of Nottingham and another from Leeds Metropolitan University. The study was conducted under the auspices of Great Lakes Regional College, which contributed an additional nine interns.

The study conducted through this research aimed at facilitating a nuanced understanding of water quality, access and sanitation conditions in schools in Kanungu whilst also providing the foundation for an evidence-based intervention.

The research in Uganda has assisted in developing my dissertation, as it has provided me with primary data, which will provide underpinning in the conclusions of my hypothesis and dissertation question. Data was collected through interviews with senior school staff and focus groups with non-senior school staff. Additionally, samples of treated water were collected and tested for faecal contamination by coliform testing kits.

Taking a sample from Standard Academy's water tap for a coliform bacterium test

If I had this opportunity again I would definitely stay out in Uganda for a much longer period, as I don’t feel I had a proper chance to appreciate the geography of the county. In regards to my dissertation, in a perfect world I would have liked to compare the effects of the dry and wet seasons in Kanungu and how the effects of the season changes affects water access, water quality and sanitation, though that would require a greater, in-depth study over a number of years if I wanted to gain reliable data and a truly valid understanding.

Overall my trip to Uganda has been the greatest experience of my life, and much is owed to the University and IWSN for providing the opportunity. Moreover without the support of Volunteer Uganda, I am sure my time in Africa would not have run so smoothly.

This was my first taste of such a ‘researching’ scenario in the field without the guidance of lectures, and it has planted a seed in my mind to possibly pursue a PhD or research-related career.