By: Bogere Ali
In Iganga district (the project’s target area), 71.5% of communities lack access to drinking water. The situation is made worse by the high population density, together with inequality in access to drinking water (less than 45% of the rural population).
Water consumption in the worst affected rural areas is around 10 litres per person per day, according to national poverty eradication documents, significantly less than the recommendations of what constitutes the right to water (between 50 to 100 litres p/d) and national targets (20 litres p/d) according to the “Ministerial Political Communication 2015/16” of the Ministry for Water and the Environment.
Given the limitations in access to drinking water in rural areas (under 50% compared to 95% in urban areas), women and children still have to bear the burden of fetching water, something which takes between 30 to 45 minutes per day (a round trip of between 1.8 to 2.5 km). This puts them at greater risk of sexual violence when collecting water, and also causes school absenteeism.
The Project focuses both on improvement of equal access to water, and strengthening local capacities, based on four different activities:
1. Increasing the amount of water for human consumption available to 13 of the 15 communities identified, which currently lack adequate water resources. New wells will be dug, hand pumps installed, and the water quality tested to ensure adequate quality standards and parameters. In the other two communities, which have sufficient quantities of water but of inadequate quality, automatic chlorine micro dispensers will be installed to reduce the impact of water-related diseases.
2. The second activity will focus on awareness-raising and good hygiene and water consumption practices, as well as ownership by the 15 communities.
3. The activities will be strengthening governance in order to guarantee project sustainability. Fifteen water management committees and an association of water users (this latter to ensure transparency and accountability, and to act as a link between district authorities and the 15 communities) will be set up. The project will also provide training to the committees on operational management of the water points (such as monthly fees for use of water) and on monitoring construction and installation works (with the help of Plan Uganda).
4. A key element of the project is training local mechanics to ensure project sustainability, in addition to training for local “carers” who would be in charge of preventive maintenance and direct management of the water points (under the supervision of the management committees). This training will increase the life cycle of the water resources and boost project efficiency.