The title for this project is slightly misleading as it would suggest that the beneficiaries are purely women. The reality is that the Kituntu Women’s Association (KAWA) was set up many years ago to help improve the lives of the local people in Mpigi District, central Uganda. Over the years, it has grown substantially to include many people with a variety of skills and expertise to bring about the changes that are needed; however it has retained its name!
KAWA focuses on improving the living conditions of disadvantaged people including the elderly, disabled children and those living in poverty. In December 2010, Just a Drop worked with the organisation on the construction of three wells, six rainwater harvesting jars and latrines in four villages: Kituntu, Kyengonza, Bulo and Migambo.
Elizabeth Nannyonjo from Kyengonza village said, “In this community elderly people have been neglected and denied their right of accessing clean water, leaving them to think that they may die any day. But a vote of thanks goes to Just a Drop because this is not the case. They have brought such services to us (the elderly) which adds value to our lives and hope of living. So, long live Kituntu Women’s Association and Just a Drop and stay in existence for many more years!”
Ever wondered how water jars were constructed?
A water jar is a large structure measuring around three metres high and four metres in diameter (at its widest point). It is shaped like a huge sphere and can hold approximately 2,000 litres of water. Water jars abut domestic houses, which have been fitted with gutters and a pipe attachment which feeds into the jar through a filter. Construction is a time consuming basis consisting of six layers being applied to something akin to chicken wire, in much the same way as you make papier mache. This is carried out over a period of time, allowing each layer to be dried by the sun.
Most of the toilets in the villages were simple holes in the ground. Our project engineer, Mike Reynolds describes an encounter he had with one of the village elders, following the completion of the construction of some latrine blocks:
“First of all, we were shown where this lady had defecated in the past. In essence, it was an open pit, covered with wood, with a small opening. There were no walls for privacy and the wood had been eaten away by termites. At any time, the platform could have given way to devastating effect.
Next, we inspected the new latrine blocks. One of these was a simple hole in the ground; the other housed a seat with grab rails on the sides of the cubicle. Both fed into a deep pit below.
One had been built close to the house of the old lady, who had severe mobility problems. Upon seeing us, she clasped her hands together in thanks and fell to her knees in gratitude at what had been done for her. Her only tongue was Luganda, but at times like these, such language transcends all boundaries. She was eternally grateful for having the dignity restored to her by being able to ablute in private while her legs are supported by the toilet bowl. So simple but so meaningful, and so humbling.”
Each of the three wells were hand-dug by members of the local communities and lined with interlocking bricks. The wells consist of a hand pump set on a raised, round concrete plinth. The pumps are easy to use and fill a 20 litre jerry can in under a minute. Trees have been planted around each site, which will eventually provide a protective screen against wild animals.
“I now have Hope”, says Alice Ndagire, age 99
Alice informed KAWA staff that washing her clothes and bathing her body were not a priority since she barely had enough water to drink. After receiving her water jar, she could hardly wipe the smile from her face. “It was like a miracle. Who could have given this to me, just as old as I am? People say I am useless! I am very happy because I now have hope. Hope of life! I guard my water so jealously! I will not allow anybody to come near my water jar apart from those few who helped me before. Thank you so much for giving me another hope of life. I can now bathe and wash my clothes any time.”
Desilanta lives in Kyegonza village and says she always regarded clean water as her first priority in her home, although her storage container was very dirty and anyone could easily tell that it was contaminated. When she received a water jar, she had this to say: “My water jar is my pride. l suffered a lot with accessing clean water and l had become a beggar in my own home. l would call anybody who passed my house and request help. Can you imagine, I only bathed twice a week… Now, with my water jar, I am proud that I have enough water all the time. I can even bathe twice a day! With my water, l know I can now live longer”.
Our sincere thanks to Hayes & Jarvis for making this project possible.
Date of project: December 2010