In December 2012, work began on an integrated community managed water and sanitation project, implemented by Just a Drop together with local partner Voluntary Action for Development (VAD) and sponsored by Thomas Cook Children’s Charity. The project addressed the unsafe water problems of four villages in Namakonkome Parish.
In Uganda, 33% of the population do not have access to safe water and 52% of people are without sanitation. Infant mortality stands at 130 in 1,000, and 26,000 children under the age of five die every year die from diarrhoeal diseases.
Namakonkome is one of the ten parishes that form Gombe Sub-County, in Wakiso district. It is located 18 miles from Kampala. It is an area with undulating hills which makes it possible for the development of both shallow and spring wells. The project consisted of the construction of five shallow wells, one spring tank, five water jars and five latrines. The project’s aim was to improve the water and sanitation conditions of the community in this parish.
Many households would resort to collecting water from nearby stagnant ponds which resulted in the prevalence of diseases associated with dirty water sources. Diarrhoea, dysentery, vomiting and skin infections were commonly reported by the community, especially the elderly and children below eight years of age.
Namakonkome parish has six schools including two secondary schools – St. Mary College, with 500 students and Migadde College with 1000 students ranging from 12 years to 18 years. These schools comprise of day and boarding sections and these two schools fetch water from the newly constructed Munuubi spring well. The primary schools include, Buwambo primary school with 230 pupils, Namakonkome Primary School with 200 pupils, Seed Primary School with 150 pupils and Namakonkome Community School with 180 pupils. Children from these schools are now able to fetch water from the water sources that were recently constructed for cooking porridge and drinking.
The community faced many severe water, hygiene and sanitation problems. The women and children were most affected, with the responsibility of collecting water: they used to walk 2-3km to access water from safe water sources, to then find themselves in long queues. They would spend up to two hours fetching water.
The people of Namakonkome Parish are now collecting clean, safe water. The community walk a shorter distance to access water, now on average 1-1.5km, and queue less at water sources. Reports of water related diseases have also dropped. The original unsafe water sources are now only being used for brick making, irrigation and for animals. The project has also allowed community members to become more active in their gardens, because they no longer have to spend a lot of time collecting this water, this is hoped to result in an increase in income generating activities.
The community of Namakonkome received six water sources. One spring tank and five shallow wells which are all functioning well – Munuubi spring tank, Kaligga shallow well, Kabiswa shallow well, Mubiru shallow well, Lule shallow well and Nababirye shallow well.
A total of 3,080 people have benefited from the constructed water sources including two secondary schools, four primary schools and all of the communities.
Sanitation facilities for the vulnerable:
The five vulnerable beneficiaries of this project have been encouraged and helped to set up simple hand washing facilities near their newly constructed latrines along with dish racks and compost pits for proper waste disposal. The beneficiaries included Jane Nalunkuma, 106 years and her great, great, great grandchildren. A total of 30 people including dependants are benefitting from these facilities.
Rain water harvesting jars for the most vulnerable:
Five beneficiaries each received a rain water harvesting jar of approximately 2,500 litres capacity.
The water jars will also benefit their dependants and neighbouring households.
Just a Drop and local partner VAD worked closely with the communities to promote the long term sustainability of the project. To ensure community ownership of the project a high level of community participation had to be achieved.
During the construction of the water and sanitation facilities the communities mainly contributed manual unskilled labour, food to the masons and other community members and storage space for the construction materials.
They were then trained by VAD in the operation and maintenance of the new water facilities. The communities were encouraged to elect the water user committees and community monitoring teams; the two community structures which will help ensure the sustainability of the project through maintenance, repairs, and cleaning, encouragement of community mobilization and the promotion of good hygiene/sanitation practices. The Water User Committees also have the responsibility of collecting monthly water user fees, which will be used for future repairs and maintenance.
The Headmaster of Namakonkome Community School, Herman Mukisa:
“I am very grateful, life was very poor before this project. The school administration used to send home 25 pupils every week because of diarrhoea, stomach ache and skin diseases all of which were caused by the dirty unsafe water at the school which all the pupils were using. Children used to drink this water no matter how dirty it was. With the construction of Kabiswa shallow well, which is near to our school, children now fetch clean, safe water from this newly constructed water source.
The number of children being sent home because of the previous diseases like diarrhoea and stomach ache has tremendously reduced too. Only five children per week are sick which is very good progress and children have now settled to their studies, unlike before. A lot of time that was being used to collect water from far away sources has now been devoted to studies. We are expecting good performances this year because of this project – thank you so much for this work in our village.”
Jane is 106 years old and has to use a hole in the ground outside for a toilet. She walks with a stick and has to be careful of snakes which are attracted to the hole, especially at night.
This project has provided Jane with a water jar and a latrine. This will be Jane’s first toilet.
Jane says: “Walking with a stick, to relieve myself in a hole in ground was difficult and undignified. I often used to wait until it got dark, but that meant I had to be careful of snakes. Now, I use my latrine at any time of day. It’s safe and comfortable for me to use. I feel much safer and will find life much easier.”
Jane lives with her great, great, great grandchildren Andrew, 9 and Regan, 18 months, 2.5km from the nearest water source. She is the sole carer for the children and the eldest often helps out with all the cooking, cleaning and water carrying for the family.
Jane continues, “I often had to beg for water from my neighbours and with the little water we were given, we had to decide whether to cook or wash ourselves and our clothes. Now, my water jar provides us with enough water for our daily needs. These facilities have changed my family’s life and restored my dignity.”
Date of Project: April 2013