Spencer Caldwell (Uganda)

Born in Arkansas, raised in North Louisiana as well as New Orleans, Spencer was always an energetic and adventurous person from the start. Spencer has had many outdoor adventures, including hiking through the trails in the Olympics outside of Seattle, and the Black Hills of South Dakota and traversing the United States in multiple cross country trips. Upon joining the US Navy in 1999, his worldly adventures only increased, with deployments to SE and SW Asia along with many many months spent out to sea enjoying an uninhibited view of the stars and the oceans. His venturing outdoors continued by taking on of snowboarding as a hobby to coincide with rugby. Since then he has snowboarded in 7 countries and played rugby in 8. Recently, Spencer graduated from George Mason University with a Masters Degree in Public Administration concentrating in Non-Profit Management at George Mason University. As Spencer's graduate school experience is reaching its final semester, the door opened up for humanitarian work and the ability to apply by learned skills and acquired knowledge to the world around him. Life is about the journey, much less about the destination.

The Sustained Latrine Model for Gulu

29 Jul

The brick and mortar, concrete, and hard manual labor is coming to a close with only minor piecework inside the individual stances remaining. This includes grab bars, railings, the approved wheel chair height, and the appropriate water tanks and basins for cleaning. An elongated walkway from the school to the latrine will deplete the final count of cement bags and funds for construction, as the budget and supplies have run its course in the latrine construction.

Patrick and I reflecting on work success

We must finalize a date for inclusivity and hygiene training involving the teachers, parents, school leaders, and students in these final weeks of work. Community and school inclusivity between all parties will strengthen the relationship between the District Education Officer (DEO) and GDPU as well as open the way for GDPU’s model to be used more in 2020 and ensure sustainability. Girls and boys will enjoy an improvement in WASH services, with an increased assurance of privacy and equity for girls, and the inclusivity of disabled students. We want to prevent bullying of disabled students and increase their attendance numbers and prove their value to the community by including them in all school functions.

The head school teacher, Joseph, was telling Patrick and me of the Gulu District’s proposal for a secondary latrine for boys at Abaka, as this GDPU latrine will be girl specific. To our surprise, they were planning on hiring the same contractor who built the condemned latrine to complete its refurbishing for a secondary latrine. We fail to see the sound reasoning in this decision, as the contractor wasted district funds, time, and damaged the relationship between Abaka Primary School and the Gulu District. This is a very questionable decision making process that needs to be revisited and we both expressed our disappointment with the proposal, with hopes that it can be amended.

Although no exact date has been set and nothing is written in stone, Joseph mentioned the proposal includes the plan to dig a new pit latrine beside the failed one. Yes, an entirely new dugout pit for a substructure. Patrick retorted with the lack of need for a new pit. Simply use the old pit, clear out the damaged substructure, and work from there. As we have seen from the previous blogs, the pit excavation and substructure is the most time consuming and laborious part of the entire process. 

GDPU and Kinyera David should be awarded the contract, as the decision was definitely not well researched and there seems to be obvious influences beyond our scope of vision. David’s present work stands on its own for acceptance as the working engineer for the GDPU model. It is possible that the second latrine construction plan can be altered by the DEO once the Gulu District Ministry of Health and Safety gives the final approval of the Abaka Primary School latrine. This will provide resounding support for the GDPU model and may drive the DEO to alter the plans. 

GDPU has also demonstrated success in installing accessible toilets at three schools in Gulu District before, at Tochi primary (2015), Ogul primary (2017) and Awach Central primary (2018). The continued success at Abaka will lead to a surge in enrollment, reduced bullying, and motivated teachers. The DEO will be excited by these results and will want to ensure a long-term sustainability of latrines and delight in the positive effects on enrollment, attendance, and quality of life.

Posted By Spencer Caldwell (Uganda)

Posted Jul 29th, 2019


  • rachel wright

    July 29, 2019


    The amount of work GDPU was able to accomplish with regards to the latrine in such a short amount of time is quite impressive. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your next blog to get an update on issues with the potential future contract!

  • Emily

    July 29, 2019


    It sounds like GDPU has a good track record in the community. I hope their work continues throughout Uganda!

  • Abby Lahvis

    July 29, 2019


    Wow! The latrine looks amazing. I really hope that GDPU gets the second offer for the Boy’s latrine, especially because you finished ahead of schedule! Hopefully this will make an impact on the school’s retention rates come fall.

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