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A Return to Health

Two back-to-back water, sanitation and hygiene projects have given the people of Buffujja and Naluhonjohe a chance at a healthier life. The projects were coordinated by the Rotary Clubs of Bweyogerere Namboole (D9211, Uganda) and Bellingham (D5050, USA). The grants used to fund the projects were provided by the Bellingham club, District 5050, and the Rotary Foundation.


Before the project was implemented, the community was forced to collect water from pools contaminated with human waste as a result of frequent flooding

The Buffujja Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project was developed in response to persistent flooding of the Manafe River in Butalejja District. The flooding destroyed gardens, affected food production and cash crops. An already problematic sanitation situation worsened, as the floods caused toilets to overflow and contaminated the river water with human waste. This filthy water pooled in the open water sources used by the village of Buffujja and its surrounding communities.

A number of diseases, such as Cholera and diarrhea began to appear. More than 80 percent of illnesses within the community were linked to the poor water and sanitation conditions. More than 90 percent of the area’s residents lacked access to safe drinking water and more than 80 percent of them lacked access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Trees were uprooted and erosion increased. This in turn made each flood worse and firewood became scarce. Education also suffered as absenteeism increased due to illness and more time being needed to find and acquire safe water.

Following a comprehensive community-needs impact assessment, the Rotary Club of Bweyogerere Namboole developed an Adopt-A-Village project for the area. The project had four components; water and sanitation, health care, education and alternative income generation.

The water and sanitation component, which had objectives that intersected with the other three components, received overwhelming support. Advice from Uganda Water Rotary Plus, an action group of WASRAG, concurred with the findings of the community needs assessments and led to a water and sanitation project being undertaken. The Buffujja Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project was listed online in the WASRAG project database and discovered by the Rotary Club of Bellingham. After a series of due-diligence conversations, both clubs agreed to move forward and seek the necessary grant funding.


The community receives continuous post-project training to ensure the project’s sustainability

In September 2014, the Rotary Foundation approved the Buffujja Sanitation and Hygiene project, which was valued at nearly US$36 000. The beneficiaries of these deliverables included the village of Buffujja and six adjacent communities. Its deliverables included:

• The provision of clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation facilities

• Health, hygiene and sanitation education and awareness

• The provision of energy-saving stoves to eliminate in-home air pollution

• The construction of three eco-system toilets

• The distribution of reusable sanitary pads to community women and school children

• Education and follow up support to ensure the project’s sustainability.

The success of this project attracted the attention of many people from other villages, some as far as 10 kilometres away, as there were only three cleanwater stations in the greater area.

During the post-project evaluations, it was evident that the village of Buffujja and its nearby communities were starting to struggle under the burden of residents from outlying communities trekking great distances to access their safe water supply.

It was decided that the best solution would be to implement the same project in neighbouring areas.

This prompted the birth of the Naluhonjohe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene project which followed the same model and deliverables as the Buffujja project.

The implementation of this second project is ongoing and has already generated great excitement in the communities. So far, the water stations have been installed and are up and running, while the construction of the eco-recycling toilets is about 75 percent complete. The construction of energy-saving stoves has begun and distribution of the re-usable menstrual pads is underway. Community leadership and end-user training is also in process. The project is on target to be completed in January 2018.

Overall, the project has resulted in the communities’ strengthened ability to develop and maintain sustainable water and sanitation systems. It has also provided supporting programmes that enhance community awareness of the benefits of clean water, sanitation and hygiene.


Now the community collects clean water from one of the water stations.

The entire community enthusiastically united to support the project’s sustainability and have embraced it as part of daily life. The community leadership has fully embraced the project and is gainfully managing the minimal user fees to sustain the water supply.

Responsibility for the project has been gradually shifting from the Bweyogerere Namboole club to the community leadership who will be ultimately responsible for its sustainability. Likewise, ownership of all equipment and related documentation has been passed to the community water committee. This committee, which received training, has already demonstrated its capacity to manage, maintain and repair the equipment to ensure the equipment’s and system’s sustainability.

The outcomes of these two projects have been impressive. Women are no longer stressed and exhausted from trying to find drinkable water and young girls are no longer exposed to predators during their searches for safe water. Education has improved with attendance increasing by 40 percent and a 50 percent increase in academic performance during final exams. Residents have experienced fewer health complaints and fewer children suffer from water related illnesses.

Along the way we (the Rotarians of the Rotary Clubs of Bweyogerere Namboole and Bellingham,

Rotaractors and the people of the Buffujja, Naluhonjohe and surrounding communities) have learned that when we are inspired to work together there is no problem bigger than we are!


Rotaractors participating in the project

The water stations are now “centres of health” in these communities. Previously, people were afraid to go for medical treatment as they were told to stop drinking water from flood-contaminated open sources – their only sources of water.

The Ugandan Government’s National Water and Sewerage Corporation assisted with permits, contributed its expertise to the project’s construction and allowed connections to an existing municipal cleanwater system.

Just as The Rotary Foundation work has helped save millions of lives around the globe, it has also transformed the perceptions of the many Rotarians involved in the Buffujja and Naluhonjohe projects who were galvanised and energised by its support.

When Arch Klumph announced his vision of creating an endowment fund “for the purpose of doing good

in the world,” never could he have imagined just how much “good” his idea would ultimately accomplish. A century later, The Rotary Foundation continues to touch people’s lives every minute of every day of every year.

It’s true: The sun never sets on the work of the Rotary Foundation.

NOTES:

  • First published in Rotary Africa, a member of the Rotary World magazine Press
  • Written by Peter Kasango
  • The opinions expressed in this make-up article do not necessarily represent the opinions of Rotary eClub One and its editorial staff





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