This project restored the community’s water supply through the renovation of its reservoir, break tanks, pipe distribution and water point network, in the villages of Kicumbi Parish, Kamungunguzi sub-county, Kabale District. The project was implemented with local partner Africa Equipment for Schools and sponsored by Thomas Cook Children’s Charity.
Kabale District is found in south west Uganda, bordering Rwanda to the south and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west. The area is hilly, with volcanic mountains, hot springs, swamps and large rivers in the valleys. Subsistence farmers grow cabbages, potatoes, tomatoes, maize, bananas and some wheat. The land is heavily fragmented due to overpopulation, which has cleared the shrubs and eucalyptus forests. This is also the home of the country’s revered Mountain Gorilla population.
The village primary schools provide a basic education for 6 – 18 year olds. Less than half the population are literate, with 76% of the adult population never having progressed further than primary education. Local work includes timber cutting, stone quarrying and brick making, which alongside seasonal agriculture and the responsibility of collecting water, pull many children out of school.
Many of the Kicumbi Parish community would collect water from springs below Kicumbi Primary School. Girls and women bear the responsibility of collecting water, regardless of age. Travelling up to 4km is difficult enough on the way down, but is a long hard haul back up with full jerry cans, especially for children. Old ladies would also be seen slowly walking uphill with large cans of water.
The dirty water collected from these polluted streams led to diarrhoea, intestinal worms and many other water-related illnesses.
In order to restore the community water supply, the entire water supply system first had to be inspected. It was found that the original pipes along the system had not been buried deep enough. Over the years they had been damaged from farming and land erosion. The renovation of the community’s reservoir, break tanks, the pipe distribution and water point network began with over 4km of trenches being dug, new pipes laid and new tap stands built.
Work was implemented between March and May 2013. During the first four weeks a dozen local labourers were employed and then after Easter another eight joined the team. The community offered accommodation to the team throughout the duration of the works and provided secure storage for rolls of pipes, bags of cement and two of the workers’ motorbikes.
The community have organised small teams of ‘Tap Committees’ as well as an overall Water Committee, to ensure the longevity of the water system. During meetings with the officials and the community, certain rules have been put in place which the local chairmen will enforce. LC1 Chairman Polito has ruled that the very young children must not be allowed to collect water as they are the most likely to forget to turn the taps off. The school children have also been reminded to turn off any taps they see flowing. Several local men from the different villages have been trained on the upkeep of the system.
At the official handover, the Gomborro Chief said that in some cases 500 Ugandan shillings will be levied (around 12p). In other cases the amount will be double this. The bulk of the fees will be for the overall water account, with a smaller portion to be put towards each tap stand. The money will be kept in a local savings bank, which was agreed by all the elders present at the meeting. The Treasurer will be accountable to all and spending decisions must be agreed by all elders.
The general health and well-being of the villagers will also improve.
Davis Ntegyereize is 13 years old and Head Boy at Kicumbi Primary School.
“At home we collected water from a spring. It took two hours. At school we had to climb down a hill and then back up again with heavy jerry cans. Now at home I walk only for 30 minutes, and my school now has two taps. We can wash our hands after visiting the latrines. We are glad we no longer have to walk a long distance. If we see someone damaging the tap we will tell the headmaster.”
Susan Muka and Patience Tumwine are nurses at Kicumbi Health Centre. “Before, we collected water from the spring; it would take 30 minutes just to get there. We lacked sufficient water to keep as clean as we would like. Now we have a tap next to the health centre. The children will have fewer stomach illnesses, like diarrhoea and worms – they will be healthier. There will be fewer accidents as well as children won’t cross the road for collecting, they can get it here. My family and friends are very happy with the water. Having the tap here is a very good thing.”
Our sincere thanks to the Thomas Cook Children’s Charity for making this project possible.
Date of Project: June 2013