By Lt.j.g Stephen Woodham, NMCB 14 Public Affairs
Brig. Gen. Mathew Gureme of the Uganda People s Defence Forces extends his gratitude to a representative of the Seabees for their work on a public restroom at the Source of the Nile landmark in Uganda during Eastern Accord 15 in March. U.S. Army Africa photo by Capt. Danielle Covington
Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 14 Det. Horn of Africa (HOA) renovated the only public restrooms at the "Source of the Nile, Jinja, Uganda, March 15, as part of Eastern Accord 15, a joint military training exercise focused on humanitarian aid and disaster response in East Africa.
Eight NMCB 14 Seabees joined with members of the U.S. Army 404th Civil Affairs Battalion and the Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF) Construction Brigade for the project to support the local population and build relationships with African militaries and local communities.
The Source of the Nile, where the Nile River flows out of Lake Victoria to begin its 2,299-mile course, is a major local tourist attraction. However, its only public restroom was in poor condition.
BU2 Christine Fletcher, NMCB 14, Detachment 1, fills cement into a wall during restorations in a public bathroom at the Source of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda, March 5, during Eastern Accord 15. U.S. Army Africa photo by Capt. Cara Bousie
The Seabees and Soldiers demolished the existing latrine's interior, repaired walls, replaced doors, added lighting, placed new tile and toilets, and painted the inside and outside of the latrine. All of the materials needed to complete the project were purchased from local vendors, supporting the Jinja economy.
The finished project provides modern restroom facilities for male and female visitors to the Source of the Nile, boosting local tourism.
NMCB 14 Seabees renovated a public restroom during Eastern Accord 15, Jinja, Uganda, March 15. Photo by BU2 Christine Fletcher
Originally estimated to be a routine project, the renovation captured the attention of commanding generals from the United States and Uganda, and officers from Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda and multiple European nations, along with the local population. The project quickly became the epicenter for relations between the U.S. forces, the UPDF and the municipality.
U.S. Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, commanding general, Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), stated, "You may not know what a difference this job means for future relations with our African partners."
The response from the Jinja municipality was overwhelmingly positive. Locals stopped team members out in town and thanked them for their work.
Deputy town clerk Jofram Waidhuuba spoke about the partnership during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
"On behalf of the Jinja people, we thank you so much," Waidhuuba said. "In just a few days, you give us a sense of hope, and helped promote tourism in this town."
Posing with members of the Ugandan People s Defense Force and local Residents during Eastern Accord 15, Jinja, Uganda, March 15 are LSCS (SCW/SW) Mark Cashion, BU1 (SCW/EXW) Heath Younts, CE1 (SCW) Scotty McFadden and EO3 Brandon Paul, U.S. Navy Seabees; and Capt. Ahmand Martinez and SSGT Jason Larson, U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers. Photo by BU2 Christine Fletcher
In typical Seabee fashion, NMCB 14 left an impression of their "Can Do" spirit on everyone they met.
"I love Seabees, I love what you do," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander, U.S. Army Africa. "When I get done with this Army gig, I want to be a Seabee."
Eastern Accord 15 is a military exercise that focuses on humanitarian aid and disaster response in East African nations. The 10-day training exercise enhanced participant capabilities to plan and employ forces to effectively counter violent extremist organizations, as well as enhance cooperation and coordination among participating partners. Approximately 320 military personnel from Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and the U.S. participated in the exercise.
NMCB 14 is a reserve Seabee battalion based out of Gulfport, Miss., specializing in contingency construction, disaster response and humanitarian assistance. NMCB 14 Det. HOA is currently deployed to Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti in support of CJTF-HOA, which counters violent extremist organizations in East Africa through theatre security cooperation activities and enables regional access and freedom of movement within East Africa in order to protect and defend United States interests.
Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams (center), U.S. Army Africa commander, takes part in a group photo with Ugandan military personnel, U.S. Navy Seabees and U.S. Army Civil Affairs Soldiers who are completing a public restroom renovation at the Source of the Nile River during Eastern Accord 15 in Jinja, Uganda, March 10. U.S. Army Africa photo by Capt. Cara Bousie