As the SAFE project approaches the end of its 5 year grant period the staff has begun planning how to do a final evaluation and report for the project. To build the reporting system, the whole SAFE staff underwent a two day workshop on monitoring and evaluation. During this training, we learned about various tools that can be used to assess the impacts of our work including methods for recording and verifying unexpected outcomes and how to write accurate reports on the project’s impact.
It was interesting to hear about the diverse outcomes the project has had and to be able to map out the overall impact of the project with the SAFE team. I am glad that I was able to contribute and learn more about NGO project planning and how to draft and report on outcome harvesting. Now the M&E team is out in the field using the surveys we drafted to assess the outcomes in one of our target communities in the north.
After the training Kiren and I took advantage of our three day weekend by going on a safari in Murchison Falls National Park. We drove to the park Saturday morning and by the afternoon we were hiking to the top of the Falls themselves. Our tour guide informed us that this was the most powerful waterfall in the world which was easy to believe as I watched the Nile river tumble off the edge and then bounce back nearly the entire height of the drop at roaring speed.
I was not prepared for how beautiful the hike would be, the red dirt glittered heavily with mica and quartz making the whole area seem as if it was coated in silver glitter. My feet got muddy near the river but when the dirt dried it looked more like I has dipped by feet in silver paint than mud.
The whole park looked like a fantasy scape straight out of a movie or a dream. The rainforest was dense and green and crawling with innumerable monkeys, chimps, and baboons (one of my tour mates actually had his lunch stolen out of his hands by a baboon). The savanna was wide, open, and littered with antelope, giraffes, elephants, buffalo, warthogs, hippos, and lions. And the Nile River was as calm and magnificent as I could have dreamed despite the occasional crocodile sighting.
The highlight of the safari was having a hippo unexpectedly show up at my campsite Saturday night. That was the first time I have ever had to say to a group of people, “ I guess I’m not showering yet because a hippo is blocking the front of my tent”. After freaking out for a minute or two my friends and I learned that the hippo was a benign addition to our campsite and actually enjoyed an hour of star gazing with the friendly hippo grazing only 10 feet away.
The only Ugandan animal I didn't get to see on this trip was a leopard, which are famously illusive, but I suppose that is just another reason to come back in the future.