This project took place in Kituntu county, Mpigi District, one of the poorest regions in central Uganda with much of the population living as subsistence farmers on less than one dollar a day.
To compound the difficulties of everyday life, women and girls are expected to walk several miles on a daily basis to collect water from unsafe sources and children are the most at risk from the associated dangers.
Indeed life here has become particularly hard for the most vulnerable: the elderly, children and teenage mothers. The reasons for this are manifold: for example, in addition to a lack of clean water, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS has led to an increase in the number of orphans in the area and therefore grandparents who have lost their children to the disease now have to shoulder the responsibility of caring for their grandchildren. To make matters worse, there are high levels of illiteracy in the district and a lack of proper information about diet means that many children in the area are suffering from malnutrition.
Illness and decreased school attendance caused by waterborne diseases inevitably affect the education of many local children. Furthermore, girls often have lower levels of literacy as they are particularly vulnerable to having their education cut short, due to a high rate of teenage pregnancies. There is a high maternal mortality rate, particularly among young girls.
What we did
Findings from a baseline survey which was carried out by Just a Drop’s local partner, the Kituntu Women’s Association together with local leaders and identified community volunteers, showed that only 23.7% of households were aware of correct hygiene and sanitation practices. 88.1% did not boil or purify their water and a mere 19.7% families had properly maintained pit latrines and hand washing facilities. Feedback from community meetings revealed a determination and enthusiasm to improve these figures.
Site surveys were conducted with the following objectives:
- To determine the appropriate technological solutions
- To establish the number of expected users
- To determine all possible sources of water contamination so that they can be eliminated before construction of the wells etc.
- To identify the negative and positive environmental impacts of the project
Hand-dug wells and hand-pumps
With the funds provided, five hand-dug wells and hand-pumps were constructed for use in the targeted villages. The local people were able to help with the manual digging of the wells and in addition, spare parts can be secured locally in Uganda if needed.
VIP School facilities
Two 10,000 litre tanks were constructed at Daar-Ulum Primary School and St. Cecelia Nursery and Primary School. The water from the tanks will be used for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. In addition, segregated ‘Ventilated Improved Pit’ (VIP) latrine blocks and hand washing facilities were built in each school.
As a result, female pupils no longer have to miss school during their menstrual cycles and the general health and well-being of all the pupils has improved, thus absenteeism has significantly reduced.
Taps and toilets
10 water jars, each with a capacity of 2,500 litres, were constructed in the homes of the most vulnerable in the communities – the elderly and the disabled, who would otherwise be unable to reach the new water sources. These jars will collect rainwater and store it in a container for consistent use by the householder and their families. The jars have a capacity of 2,500 litres.
In addition, the locally appropriate, user-friendly type of hand washing facility known as a tippy tap will be promoted. Tippy taps are made using a small jerry can and tied on a string connected to a stick. After using the latrine, the person uses their feet to access the water without touching the jerry can.
Maintenance and training
Five Water User Committees have been set up, each comprising seven people who will be trained in the operation and maintenance of the new water sources. Committee members will also be responsible for collecting a small water usage fee from each household (roughly 30p per month) to pay for any repairs.
Elizabeth Nalumansi is 49 years old and has five children. She narrates her own story:
“On this fateful day – not knowing what would come out at the end – my angel goes to the well alone, as a daily routine before and after school. This is the day I can hardly forget in the whole of my life. I sent my daughter Mary, aged seven, to the well which is situated 2km from our home. She never used to spend a lot of time there, but she did this time. At first I did not take it seriously because I knew as a child she may have stopped somewhere to play with her friends. I prepared to punish her as soon as she came back home – for not being responsible enough to come back home before it was too late. Close to six hours passed by and I began to worry. I asked my neighbours if they had seen Mary.
To my dismay, a good Samaritan brought Mary home, telling me she had found her in the forest, lying unconscious in a pool of blood. When Mary regained consciousness, all she could remember was that a mean faced man that had attacked her and beaten her up. We rushed her to health centre and when she was examined it was discovered that her private parts were severely damaged.
We were advised to report the case at the police station. The police were successful in their investigations and found the evil man who had raped my daughter, but he bribed the police and the case was settled in a village court. I was compensated with a goat?!
But I have all the reasons to smile because Kituntu Women’s Association – in partnership with Just a Drop – constructed a water harvesting jar at my home. My children no longer walk to look for water anymore and they have more time to concentrate on their studies than hurting for water. Long live Just a Drop.”
Our sincere thanks to the Guernsey Overseas Aid Committee for making this project possible. In total, approximately 11.544 people have benefited.