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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
• Health, hygiene and sanitation education and awareness
• The provision of energy-saving stoves to eliminate in-home
• 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
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
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
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!
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
It’s true: The sun never sets on the work of the Rotary
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- 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