In January 2013, work began in Nakasedhere Village on a project to provide an accessible, clean and safe water source and storage tank. The project was implemented by Just a Drop in partnership with Smileback Ministries and sponsored by dreamwater lounge in cooperation with New Events Ltd and Pool & Spa Scene Magazine.
There are 4,520 people in Nakasedhere Village, which is located in Namisambya Parish, Kamuli, eastern Uganda. The age gap between the young and old people in the village is pronounced – most are aged either below 15 or above 50 years old. 52% are children under the age of 18; only 18% are aged between 19–39 (the percentage of the population most able to engage in income-generating activities).
The above partly explains why a staggering 85% of the village lives below the poverty line. The majority of the villagers cannot read or write and over half do not have any of the skills needed for paid employment: most depend entirely on subsistence farming. They live very basic lives without access to communication, adequate housing, or paved roads.
The school where the project is based is the only one in the village; otherwise children over the age of 12 have to walk a distance of up to 18 miles to the next nearest school. This also applies to the nearest health facilities which are located over 20 miles from the village.
With no access to safe clean water, the villagers had to travel a distance of up to 8km to fetch a 20 litre jerry can of water, carried on their heads. As the role of fetching water is culturally considered to be a female responsibility, women and girls would walk to the neighbouring villages to fetch water. Once there, they would always find a long queue and so the task of collecting water could take up to five hours. Domestic violence could be a consequence of this lengthy task. On return to their homes, some women would face being beaten by their husbands who assumed that they had been engaging in extra-marital affairs.
The education of girls was also affected as they would miss school because of the amount of time it took to fetch water. There were also many reported cases of rape as they walked back.
Furthermore, in this part of Uganda, superstition and the sand dark cultures are prevalent and there were reported to be an increasing amount of child sacrifices from this village. Witch-doctors would ambush the children as they walked back from the wells in the late evening.
To avoid this danger and to save time, many women and children would use nearby swamps and ponds to draw dirty stagnant water. They would drink this water; use it for washing, cooking, bathing; and for their animals. The community, including many of the children, would then suffer from waterborne illnesses such as; schistosomiasis (bilharzia), diarrhoea, worms, river blindness, skin infections, cholera amongst others.
What we did
In response to the urgent need of this village, Just a Drop’s local partner, SmileBack Ministries (Uganda), together with DH Borehole Drillers (U) LTD, undertook a detailed study of the community. A hydraulic geo-water survey was completed: the conclusion reached was that a borehole was the most suitable solution for this community.
Community meetings were then carried out and over 700 households supported the borehole project. As work began, the community contributed all unskilled labour and donated local materials, such as sand, stones and fencing poles. Once the borehole was drilled using a local contractor, and the water storage tank constructed, the community was trained in basic hygiene and sanitation awareness.
To ensure the sustainability of the project, a Water Management Committee was established. This committee has the responsibility of organizing the community to clean around the borehole and tank as well as to collect a small user fee of 500 shillings per month per household (about 12 pence). This money will then be used for any necessary repairs. Two young persons who are also members of the committee have been trained by the contractor to do simple hands-on repairs and replacement.
Since the project has been completed, cases of reported domestic violence have been reduced and there have been no reported cases of rape. In due course, we are also expecting to see a reduction of water-related illnesses. Many households will consequently save money from treating these preventable illnesses. With their increased spare time, the project will also enable women to pursue income generating projects and children to attend school. It is hoped that ultimately, the project will contribute to lifting the village out of poverty.
Our sincere thanks to dreamwater lounge in cooperation with New Events Ltd and Pool & Spa Scene Magazine for making this project possible.
Date of project: April 2013