Posted by Peter Szoke on May 26, 2020
Yesterday, Rotarian Richard Mewhinney of the Rotary Club of Newmarket, Ontario presented at our weekly Rotary club meeting (via Zoom).
For many years, Richard has been championing the support of Ongutoi, a village in central east Uganda – and the Rotary Club of Richmond Hill has been actively supporting Ongutoi too. 
Ongutoi had a languishing local economy and poor access to healthcare until Rotary-sponsored projects created a medical centre and transformed barren ground into a grove of Valencia orange trees. 
The most recent project was to build a local economy around an water project / agricultural crop with sufficient export value to fund the operations of a medical centre.  Here is the update/outline of the project:
Phase 1 of the water project began in the fall of 2018 with installation of a water collection platform, cistern and 381 Valencia orange trees.  Drip irrigation was used to water the trees during the dry season.  The trees tolerated this well.
Phase 2 commenced in the spring of 2019 with the expansion of water storage in tanks and a further planting of 404 trees.  An orchard of 3,000 trees is expected to provide full sustainability.  The Soroti fruit processing plant can put through 6.5 metric tonnes of fruit per hour.  A demo garden showing how drip irrigation can be set up for smaller applications is helping to educate local farmers about options for watering crops.  Concerns about monoculture have also been offset through the establishment of an apiary and the sale of honey.  You can view the most recent update here:  
Phase 3 is started in the spring of 2020.  The hope is to increase water storage to 225 million litres with additional crestanks and to plant a further 1600 trees.  Funding will consist of $250 thousand US from a RI global grant, plus donations from local Rotary Clubs and the project partner, Uganda Rotary Water Plus.  This will be the last major infrastructure project in the area because by it's completion, the medical centre will be self-sustaining.
Richard, thank you for sharing your experiences at our meeting.  But we particularly want to you for your hard work and dedication to the people of Ongutoi.  We at Richmond Hill Rotary are happy that we were able to participate.
Club meeting:
Richard presenting to the club: