St. Mary’s Hospital, Uganda – A major order is realized

Around 4000 people are staying in St. Mary’s Hospital in Lacor, Gulu, Uganda per day-patients, medical staff and visitors. The Hospital has water supply facilities, which get their water from a number of wells.  The waste water is collected by a central sewer system and is going to be poorly cleaned in the wastewater lagoons.  Especially this insufficient preparation of the wastewater requires action.

An efficient waste water preparation is important, because without it, it would be impossible to eliminate the pathogens in the waste water.  Since there is the danger that resistant pathogens get from the groundwater into the drinking water. And because of that cause a disease cycle: The bacteria contaminated water is going to be pumped out of the well and gets like this back in the human body. This cycle should be stopped, so that no water based diseases could expand. The supply with clean water and the access to appropriate sanitation systems are the main challenges in this development cooperation.  The enhancement of sanitation and water supply is an important component in the fight against poverty and the destruction of the environment, which is also said in the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, as well as in the Laudato Si, the environment encyclical of the pope.


Dipl.-Ing. Josef Sperrer, a civilian engineer, planed the order of Horizont 3000 the plants for an improvement of the water supply, the use of rainwater and the preparation of wastewater according to legal requirements.  After solutions were found and the planning was coordinated together with local decision makers, the needed jobs were publicly advertised. The BBM could win this tender as the best and cheapest supplier and was instructed to realize these actions.

High-quality wastewater treatment with overgrown soil filter

So far the wastewater in St. Mary’s Hospital was directly brought to the wastewater lagoons without any preclearing, so that they silted as a result. From now on the wastewater is mechanically cleaned in a sedimentation tank with a usable volume of 300 m³. The sludge, which is settled down in the tank, is going to be pumped away and used for agriculture.

Coarse materials are hold back in the sedimentation tank

The wastewater lagoons clean the water only insufficient. To clean the 200 m³ wastewater per day according to legal requirements an overgrown soil filter with approx. 850 m² patch surface was constructed. This soil filter is a combination of biological sewage plant, trickling filter and a solid reactor.  The wastewater is gets intermittently to the biological level and is sprayed by an extensive laid piping on to the surface.

Underground Rainwater storage tank

In the hospital the rainwater is used for the lab and the washing facilities. For the storage of the rainwater underground tanks per 50 m³ usable volume were built.The plants were built very professional by local experts.

Norbert Demmelbauer: „We have worked with Dominic Ocaka and his employees since years. Because of his great competence, he makes the realisation of this project a lot easier.”

Water supply – Priority: Leak removal

The check at the water supply network showed that around 30 % of the transported drinking water gets lost because of various leaks. Mainly dripping fittings, old sealing but also regular leaks could be found. Alain, an Austrian plumber, trained the local plumbers. From now on local plumbers could do the necessary work themselves.

Completely renewed sanitary rooms

Due to the efficient use of available materials, a sanitation area could be completely renewed. For the first time built in cisterns were used. And also the partly corroded iron pipes were renewed.
The experts of BBM set together with Josef Sperrer new standards for the wastewater cleaning. The newly developed overgrown soil filter can clean large amounts of wastewater with a high quality and is suitable to upgrade insufficient plants.



BBM Know-How at Diocese of Rumbek / Solar Water System


Country: South Sudan
Supply and installation of three solar water supply systems at Pacong Parish, Warrap Parish and Bunagok Parish
  • Detail Planning
  • Delivery of electrical key equipment from Europe
  • Delivery of locally available materials (Uganda, South Sudan) to implementation sites
  • Assembling of the water towers
  • Installation of electrical / PV equipment
  • Testing
  • Commissioning
Project Partner:
Diocese of Rumbek
Duration: August 2014 – July 2015



Goal of the project was to supply 3 parishes / villages with drinking water. Due to the high amount of requested water, the implemented solution was to implement for each location a solar water pump and a 20 m³ water tank, together with tapping points. Advantages of the solar water pump are that they operate without running costs and almost maintenance free by providing a high amount of water.


The overall implementation took place between August 2014 – starting with procurement of local and international materials – until the beginning of May 2015. Challenges encountered and successfully dealt with were:

  • Weather conditions: long rainy season. Movement of workers and materials to project sites was difficult.
  • Delays in procurement and missing parts of water tanks
  • Insecurity on the roads to the missions


All three project sites were handed over to the project partner after the successful installation and electrical as well hydraulic tests.


Participation in the Technology Conference

Emmanuel Obwor, Employee from Horizont3000 / BBM was holding a speech at the 20th Ugandan National Technology Conference on Urbanisation with the title

“Urine Diversion Dry Toilets (UDDT) for Urban Towns”

The excerpt can be found here:

UDDT’s for Urban Towns


Further informations under:


Development of hybrid energy management

ASIC (Austrian Solar Innovation Centre) is a research partner of BBM. Within a new project the ASIC could help the BBM for the development of a hybrid energy management to support energy systems.

Especially in developing countries the quality of the power network is not really satisfying most of the time. Failures and fluctuations of the operating parameters make the supply of vital devices, e.g. in a hospital, to a complex task.  As a substitution expensive diesel motors are used. From now on they try to integrate PV plants, which make the power clearly cheaper, into the energy systems. A variety of configurations were tested with simulations, to find out, which is the best combination of PV and diesel generators. A core element was the development of an optimised energy management system regulating the interaction of the individual components during operations and collects at the same time data for an automatic review of the system for the error detection. In the next step the energy management can be integrated into the efficient control system (PLC), because of the knowledge gained. It also can be used in affected areas and plants.

In the meantime this PCMS (Power Control & Monitoring System) is used in two radio stations and one hospital

Solar award for Radio Pacis

BBM-project partner RADIO PACIS in Arua, Uganda wins solar award. Moreover, the president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, visits the radio station.

BBM and RADIO PACIS have a long history together. The BBM built the radio station in the north-west of Uganda with the help of Know-How and also constantly expands it.

The radio station, planned by the BBM, was part of two gratifying events:

Firstly, RADIO PACIS won the well-known EUROSOLAR award in the category “One World Cooperation” for the innovative solar-power-system, which reduced the operational energy costs drastically and has a role model effect for the region.

Further on, the Ugandan president Museveni visited the technical part of RADIO PACIS and visibly impressed.

The president visits RADIO PACIS

Right now, the BBM is working on the energy management of the radio station, to rise the efficiency of the plant.

Watersupply for St. Mary’s Hospital in Isingiro (120 beds)


Country: Isingiro, Tansania
Task: Spring preparation and gravity-fed water supply
Scope: Turnkey (planning, delivery, construction) beginning with supply network, including pipelines, reinforced concrete tanks, (domestic) connections
Project Partner: BSI Innsbruck
Duration: February 2010 to February 2011


St. Mary’s Hospital is now supplied with drinking water from Isingiro via a pipeline of about two and a half kilometres. The project followed an ecological rehabilitation strategy with work commencing in early 2010. First of all, a spring had to be located and made accessible; this was achieved by digging horizontally into the mountain at the spring outlet. A shaft consisting of three chambers is used to purify the water. The steep decline required the construction of an intermediate tank about 150 metres below the spring in order to reduce the pressure within the pipeline. Along the pipeline two additional control shafts were created which are used for inspection and maintenance.

The water is collected in two newly created tanks of reinforced concrete with a capacity of about 200 cubic metres. Beginning from there, about 800 metres of plastic pipes were installed to provide the separate buildings – as well as the flats of the employees – with drinking water. At the hospital itself, ten water taps were installed for patients and their relatives.

Watersupply for Mary Immaculate DOR Hospital, Mapuordit (150 beds)

Country: South Sudan, Diocese of Rumbek
Task: Drinking water excavation from two wells fed into a steel tank, newly laying the supply grid (1,250m), construction of 30 domestic connections in the hospital and another 10 water collection points
Solar pumps: 2 solar generators, each with 16 solar panels, 1,280 watts total power
Water storage: Water tower with a capacity of 20,000 litres, mounted on a steel frame at a height of 6m
Project partner: Comboni Missionare of Rumbek Diocese
Duration: September 2010 to February 2011


At the turn of the year 2010–2011 there were great fears that the impending division of Sudan into a northern and southern part could again lead to political unrest and armed conflicts. This had a large impact on projects within the region: all efforts were focused on swift completion. Likewise, the water supply project for the Mary Immaculate Hospital in Mapuordit (Rumbek) was to be implemented within the least amount of time possible. BBM was involved in a planning and executive role.

Despite the urgent situation, the system was installed with all due diligence. Drinking water from two wells is fed into a water tower via two solar pumps. The hospital’s diesel generator ensures that the pump can also be operated during the less sunny wet season. The water collected in the water tower is fed through plastic pipes (total length 1,250 metres) to the building connections and water collection points. In terms of quality standards the components for the new water supply system were not available either locally or regionally. Consequently, the pipe material was imported from Uganda, plug cocks and sliders came from Austria.

Power Supply of the convent of the Loretto sisters in Rumbek

The project objectives at the Sisters of Loreto in Rumbek required both to provide the Sisters with an independent power supply and also to reduce the running time of the diesel generator.

The installation was completed in August 2011 by BBM experts. The photovoltaic system with 45 modules was mounted on two primed 20-foot maritime containers. The previously constructed battery room was converted into the power control centre, housing the new batteries (12 units, 2V cells) along with other equipment (solar charge controllers, power inverters, power distribution).

For the power supply of the office a smaller system (4 solar panels, 1 power inverter, 1 solar charge controller, 2 solar batteries of 12V) was additionally installed. This ensures that office routines can be maintained independent of the main system.

Country: South Sudan
Task: Planning and construction of the photovoltaic system, delivery of all required components, installation by Austrian experts with local assistance
Power generation:
45 modules with 80 watts each, 3,600 watts capacity of the solar generator
Battery system: 12 2V maintenance-free gel batteries with a capacity of 2,000 ampere-hours (Ah
Additional components: 2 power inverters 3,000 W/24V, 2 MPPT 60A solar charge controllers
Project partner: Rumbek Dioccese
Duration: November 2010 to August 2011


St. Clare Children’s home


Location: Aber, Uganda (Lira Diocese)
Task: Planning and construction of three major buildings and three outbuildings, planning and implementation of infrastructure (water, sewage, energy)
Duration January 2009 to November 2011
Project partner: Seraphisches Liebeswerk (SLW) of the Capuchin and Lira Diocese


BBM was commissioned by SLW with the planning, the coordination of construction and installation of all technical equipment. A BBM staff member from Uganda was responsible for supervising the local construction and the on-site coordination of companies. BBM experts from Austria supervised the progress of work via regular business trips to the project.

First, the relevant plot of land was purchased, cleared and fenced-off. Additionally, an access road to the building site had to be created. Next, a well was dug, feeding a 20,000-litre water tank via a solar-powered pump. Three main buildings were constructed: the accommodations for girls and boys, each with 108 beds and a central service building with assembly hall, kitchen and offices. There were three outbuildings: a sisters’ house and two guest houses for short-term or long-term guests. All rooms were furnished and included complete plumbing and electrical installations. BBM were also responsible for landscape development and the creation of access roads.

Ecological Concept

The complex of buildings in St. Clare was constructed according to an overall ecological concept. Greywater from hand washbasins, showers and sinks is treated in a horizontal soil filter and reused in water-efficient flush toilets. Rainwater is collected in two 20-foot containers and used amongst others for laundry. Blackwater is collected in a three-chamber plant, pre-cleaned and fed via a solar pump to a two-tiered constructed wetland, at which the second soil filter (size: approximately 100sqm) is fed by a mechanical lifting mechanism entirely without the use of electricity. The treated wastewater is collected in a tank and used for the irrigation of the plantations and green spaces.

Sensor lights with integrated motion detectors and energy-saving lamps reduce energy consumption. Various photovoltaic systems provide the electricity for all three pumps, the emergency lights within the buildings, the street lamps and three freezers. Twelve solar heating systems with a 300-liter tank provide hot water for showers, sinks and washing.



Talking about 25 years of technical cooperation

Norbert Demmelbauer, 56, is head of major projects at BBM. He has been active in development cooperation since the age of 21; amongst others, he completed a seven-year engagement in Nicaragua. He began working for BBM on a freelance basis in 1990 and became a regular employee in 1995. Each year, Demmelbauer spends about three months on the road – predominantly in East Africa – monitoring BBM projects, sharing key expert knowledge in training courses and last, but not least, to meet and talk with the people.


You have been here essentially since the beginning. In your view, what were some of the achievements of BBM in the past 25 years?

BBM emerged out of the necessity for technical expertise for aid projects. Development experts very often are lacking technical proficiency. Franz Xaver Kumpfmüller, then managing director, recognized this challenge and consistently set up a new division to specifically address this issue. In the beginning it mostly involved projects where the content was determined by European organizations and missionary orders, whereas now we are predominantly approached directly by the local partners who intend to use our experience. Even in 1997 we were focusing on ecology – long before it was recognized and emphasized as a crucial issue for development cooperation. We install solar-powered water pumps, dry toilets, facilities for biological wastewater purification, and use photovoltaics instead of or in combination with existing generators. Once we have installed our systems in hospitals, schools, radio stations or workshops, people quickly notice improvements in their life situation. The cooling appliances for vaccinations or blood reserves in hospitals can be run on solar energy. Operations become possible at any moment. The lives of many patients suffering from malaria can be saved through oxygen from oxygen concentrators. I could list many more examples.


How mindful does any technician need to be of the culture of the respective country?

The cultural aspect often represents a key factor for the success of a project. Customs and traditions play a vital part in people’s lives. For instance, I have experienced that some societies do not use white mosquito nets since white is the colour of the shroud. With dry toilets we frequently use ash in order to dry faeces more rapidly and increase the pH value. This kills off the pathogenic germs. However, ash carries negative connotations in certain cultural areas. If you are already aware of that, then you can replace the ash with lime.


In what way has the work changed in the past 25 years?

Over the decades, we have gathered a large amount of institutional knowledge and in East Africa we now are able to rely on a local network of excellent technicians who have been trained by us. Engineers from both Europe and East Africa work collaboratively in the planning of the respective projects. Previously, most of the material supplies had to be imported from Europe. This has changed considerably with the establishing of local production facilities. For instance, water pipes are produced in Uganda these days. Their quality is good and they are much cheaper than competing products from Europe. We see it as our task to compare the prices and quality of local and international manufacturers and find the optimal solution for our project partners. Compared to our earlier work we have also increased our consulting services. And we realise a greater number of innovative projects. For example, in the northern region of South Sudan a team of experts under the guidance of BBM planned an energy self-sufficient operating room that is currently in construction. In any case, the projects have become more complex and require longer periods of time.


What has changed in terms of the aid services offered by BBM compared to the founding years?

There has been a shift from mere procurement to more advisory work, training, and concerted planning and realisation. What was and remains important to us is to provide our project partners with access to new, high-grade technology equipment. The African market is flooded with devices that in our region have long become obsolete, yet which are still sold as expensive new equipment. In our projects we rely on new and durable technology and at the same time train the local technicians how to use it. The equipment needs to be understood and maintainable by our local experts since this is the only way to guarantee that the operation span of the devices will last a long time.


What is the reason for BBM’s emphasis on sustainability regarding development cooperation?

The term ‘sustainability’ includes several different aspects. With regard to technical aspects it is primarily the exposure to extreme climatic conditions that will put a strain on the equipment. For instance, some refrigerators that would function perfectly well in Austria have a severely reduced life-span when used in subtropical climates. The high ambient temperatures, humidity and the dust during the dry season will impair any technical or medical equipment. Nevertheless, sustainability involves much more than that. We have formulated a specific list of criteria.
To us, sustainability means something that
– is practically sensible and needed (efficiency and effectiveness)
– is affordable both in acquisition and maintenance
– can be installed, operated, maintained and repaired by local personnel
– guarantees that spare parts will be available for many years
– can withstand environmental conditions and outside influences
– makes use of renewable and local resources
– is produced locally or as close as possible
– strengthens the role of women in society
– is beneficial for health and the environment


What are the reasons for the importance of BBM projects in the area of electricity supply, water and hygiene?

The biological purification of wastewater protects potable water resources. Purified wastewater can in certain projects be reused for the irrigation of fruit trees – this way, drinking water is conserved. Solar energy improves living conditions in a variety of ways: in huts, solar home systems provide better lighting and reduce potential fire hazards – the majority of huts are thatched with grass. Solar-powered water pumps in village squares improve the living conditions of women and children. Well water is clean water, and consequently prevents waterborne diseases – diseases that can be caused by contaminated surface water.


What has been your best moment in development cooperation?

My best experience as an aid technician was when during the Ebola crisis in Uganda (2000/2001) we were able to install a new hospital laundry within three months to prevent further infections with the deadly virus among the laundry staff.

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