Scalable and Sustainable Water Harvesting in Rural Uganda

EPA Grant Number: SU834765
Title: Scalable and Sustainable Water Harvesting in Rural Uganda
Investigators: Tollner, E. W. , Kasisira, Levi , Mulamba, Peter , Ssegane, Herbert
Institution: University of Georgia , Makerere University
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: August 15, 2010 through August 14, 2011
Project Amount: $9,602
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2010) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Agriculture , P3 Awards , Sustainability


Burgeoning population growth and declining natural sources of fish in the sub-Saharan Africa is driving an unsustainable destruction of wetlands and riparian buffers. Fish farming in Uganda is predominantly practiced by poor people in villages for subsistence with ponds of usually less than 500 m² and production in the range of 5 kg to 10 kg/100 m² per annum. Many of the ponds are just dug in swampy/wetland areas or micro-watershed concentrated storm runoff areas without proper planning or guidelines that take into considerations the ecological and environmental impacts. This has led to drying up of ponds and massive encroachment on wetlands. Also, on the national coverage, there is no detailed map of Uganda depicting areas that show the potential for pond sustainability and benefits of riparian buffers to ecological sustainability.


The project goal is to develop strategies to better employ water capture in Uganda by modeling for surface catchment and site evaluation in the presence of potential surface water runoff. The specific objectives include: (1) use of geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) to develop ecologically sustainable ponds in Uganda; (2) use of watershed, computational, and statistical models to assess long term pond sustainability for a specific location; and, (3) develop guidelines on siting ponds to ensure sustainable water and ecological existence within the micro-watershed.


The physical research will begin with remote sensing assessment of Uganda with emphasis on soils, topography and climate.  Working with host country personnel, sites will be identified for the preliminary screening analysis based on the spreadsheet tool (developed by the lead investigator). Potential sites will be further analyzed using the SPAW and ACRU model. A qualitative assessment of potential water quantity will be completed based on watershed assessment techniques, with attention to fish production. Sites deemed desirable for aquaculture production would also include levee pond water balances for assessing the aquaculture water demand. The model pond will be constructed to be in compliance with safe-dam guidelines.

Expected Results:

Outputs will include: a) an sustainable pond site suitability map of Uganda, b) a properly sited, designed, and constructed pond, and c) a guidebook for siting, design, construction, and management of ponds. The graduate and undergraduate students will directly benefit from this project. Also, the software suite and instructional modules will encourage building of local capacity through enhancing analytical skills of host country personnel for ecologically sustainable pond development and strategies to better employ water capture in regions of potentially erratic rainfall.

Supplemental Keywords:

sustainability, riparian buffer, water harvesting, pond design, GIS, geospatial modeling, remote sensing, site suitability;

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report