In June 2011, Just a Drop – together with local partner Voluntary Efforts for Community Health (VECH) Uganda – began work on a community Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) project. Sponsored by Thomas Cook Children’s Charity the project was implemented in eight villages: Kisimbizi, Kiyoola, Kisoko, Bumbaija, Katwe, Katente, Namaliga and Nantuula, in Mukono District.
Many of the villagers were previously collecting water from unsafe water sources, such as ponds and streams, thus risking water-borne diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, bilharzia, diarrhoea, worms and skin infections. They had poor access to clean water and safe latrines, with school children between 5-17 years being more vulnerable to the situation. In this respect, the pupils wasted a lot of time walking between 2-3 km in search of water, instead of concentrating on class work. This was further worsened by the fact 5% of these children have disabilities and 7% come from families affected by HIV/AIDS. Due to insufficient resources and poor sanitation practices many people have no access to safe and private latrines and are then forced to practice open defecation.
The project aimed to improve the general health conditions of the communities in eight villages in Mukono District, through increased access to safe water, effective sanitation facilities and the promotion of good hygiene. The project achieved these aims through: the construction of six shallow wells; making improvements to two well heads of the two ordinary springs and the construction of one spring tank; the installation of two rainwater harvesting crest tanks at the two primary schools and through the construction of 15 rain water harvesting jars for the vulnerable and disabled people in the village.
- Sensitisation/awareness and mobilisation seminars were held for project beneficiaries to ensure community ownership of the constructed water sources
- Election and training of nine WATSAN Committees. In order to ensure community participation, involvement and ownership of the project, committees had to be selected and trained in various skills including financial management and leadership and basic community development work
- Increased access to safe clean water resulting in a reduction of water-borne diseases
- There has been a positive change in behaviour towards sanitation and hygiene practices. Many people in the community have now started washing their hands before and after using latrines
- School absenteeism has reduced and concentration levels in class have increased
- Household savings have increased as reduced treatment is needed for water-borne illnesses
- The local schools with access to the facilities have begun to include health and hygiene education into their timetables
- As women no longer have to walk long distances to collect water they are able spend more time on other income generating activities such as gardening
We worked closely with the communities to promote long term sustainability of the project. To ensure both community ownership and success of the projects, the communities participated in the following activities:
- Members of the community shared their views and ideas about the design and sites of the project. They also participated in collecting data during a baseline survey and helped to select which schools and individuals would receive support
- The community provided unskilled labour and locally available materials such as land, banana stems, casting of blocks, clay for water sources, reeds, and provision of venues for training
- The trained community based monitoring team and WATSAN members also conducted house to house follow up visits in their respective villages to monitor the progress of the project and provide feedback as well as continuing to promote good hygiene practices
MAINTENANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY
All possible efforts have been made to ensure the sustainability of the constructed water sources. Cleaning, servicing and replacement of parts will be carried out by each community. Each water facility has a User Management Committee (which is gender sensitive) comprising seven members: a chairperson, vice chairperson, treasury, secretary, one woman, one boy and girl. Water user fees are collected by these committees for maintenance repairs of the water sources. Each household in the project area pays 500 shillings (around 12p) per month.
The two schools – St Joseph Kiyoola and Kisimbizi Primary Schools have agreed to maintain the tanks using a trained school management water committee. These committees together with VECH staff are responsible for ongoing hygiene and sanitation promotion and monitoring. Furthermore, community-based masons were trained for two weeks in theoretical and practical skills to ensure correct operation, servicing and repair of the new water sources.
Message from Ronald Mutebi Kizito, Executive Director at VECH:
Over 4,130 people have directly benefited from increased accessibility to safe clean water in these rural communities and in two schools. Nine community water sources of different technologies have been constructed. These include six shallow wells, two ordinary springs and one spring tank and these have benefited 3,540 community members. Two rain water harvesting tanks of 10,000 litres each were installed in two schools of St Joseph Kiyoola Primary School and Kisimbizi Primary School and this has increased access to safe clean water to pupils there. 12 rain water harvesting jars were constructed in 12 elderly, disabled and HIV/AIDS affected households. These benefited these people and the children in these households.
At Kisimbizi Primary School, the head-teacher has said before the project the school would send back home three to five pupils on a daily basis with complaints related to water born diseases. Pupils suffered from malaria, skin infections, vomiting, diarrhoea, dysentery and stomach ache. Now the head-teacher believes that in future the school might send no more pupils home on a daily basis with water-related diseases. In schools, there has been improvement in pupils’ attendance, performance and a reduction in time wasted in search for safe clean water.
The local health centres show that they treated about 20-25 children under thirteen years every week with diseases associated to drinking unsafe water. Since the project, the two health centres register only seven children of the same age every week still suffering from these diseases.
Thank you so much Thomas Cook Children’s Charity and Just a Drop for your support.
Date of Project: May 2013