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Clean water renews hope in Eastern Uganda
By Peter Kasango
Reprinted from Water and Sanitation Rotary
Action Group website (www.wasrag.com)
Life has been
renewed for the community members of Buffujja and Naluhonjohe by two
back-to-back water, sanitation, and hygiene projects coordinated by the Rotary
Club of Bweyogerere Namboole (E. Uganda, Africa) and the Rotary Club of
Bellingham (Washington State, USA). The people of Buffujja (population
6,000) and Naluhonjohe (population 10,000) now wake up every day with assured
access to safe drinking water thanks to Rotary. These two impactful projects
were funded by grants provided by the Rotary Club of Bellingham, District 5050,
and the Rotary Foundation (GG 1417543 and GG 1743510).
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project was developed in response to the
persistent water flooding in Butalejja District caused by the overflow of River
Manafa. This flooding destroyed gardens, which affected food production
and cash crops. Already problematic sanitation was worsened as toilet
facilities were often filled to overflowing by the flooding, which in turn
forced the river’s now highly contaminated water into the only open water sources
for the village of Buffujja and its surrounding communities. This flooding
dramatically and negatively affected the health of the people living in these
villages and communities by spreading a number of diseases, such as Cholera
outbreaks and diarrhea. Over 80% of illnesses were linked to poor water and
sanitation conditions: over 90% of the area residents lacked access to safe
drinking water; and over 80% of the residents lacking access to adequate
BEFORE - Villagers used an open well overrun by
created other problems as well: trees were destroyed, resulting in further
erosion and worsened flooding, and serious scarcity of firewood; and education
standards were reduced because of increased illnesses, and community time and
energy focused on the search for relatively clean drinking water.
comprehensive community-needs impact assessment, the Rotary Club of
Bweyogerere Namboole developed an Adopt-A-Village project for this area.
The project had four components; Water and Sanitation, Health Care, Education
and Alternative Income for the village and community inhabitants. The Water and
Sanitation component, with objectives cutting across the other three
components, received overwhelming support. For example, Uganda Water Rotary
Plus, an action group for WASRAG, advised that focus be fixed first on the
Water and Sanitation component. This advice, which coincided with the
community-needs assessment, led to the project entitled; Buffujja Water,
Sanitation and Hygiene Project, which was in turn discovered by the Rotary
Club of Bellingham (D 5050) on the WASRAG project online database. Through a
series of due diligence conversations, both clubs agreed to move forward with
seeking the necessary grant funding.
AFTER – Villagers
now have clean Water stations.
2014, the Rotary Foundation approved the Buffujja Sanitation and Hygiene
Project, GG 1417543 valued at $35,814.00 USD. The Buffujja Project deliverables
- Provision of
clean drinking water
- Hygiene and
related to health impacts and importance of clean drinking water, hygiene
- Provision of
energy-saving stoves to eliminate in-home air pollution
of three Eco System toilets
of reusable sanitary pads to community women and school children
and follow up support to ensure the Project’s sustainability.
of these deliverables included the village of Buffujja and six adjacent
communities, for a total of about 6,000 people. The success and great impact of
this project attracted many other villagers from as far as 10 km to access the
only three clean-water stations in the area.
post-project evaluations, it became clear that another result of the Buffujja
Project was that the village of Buffujja and nearby communities began to
experience more and more of a burden from residents of the outlying
communities. This was caused by the thousands of outlying community members who
trekked long distances to also access the safe drinking water provided by the
Buffujja Project. With the devastating effects on the women and children,
primarily girls, who spent long and exhausting hours walking to the new water
points, another community impact assessment was conducted to find out what
could be done to improve this developing problem. The result of this assessment
was clear: the same project must be implemented in the neighbouring villages
Pictured is an
This prompted the
birth of the Naluhonjohe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Project, GG 1743510
valued at USD $ 35,000, under the same needs assessment and model as the
Buffujja Project. As with the Buffujja project, the Naluhonjohe Project would include three water stations and three Eco
System toilets, energy- (and wood-) saving stoves, and re-usable sanitary pads,
as well as all the related training to assure the new Project’s sustainability.
of this second project is on-going and has generated more and more excitement
in the communities. As of this writing, all the water stations have been
installed and are up and running with great and positive impact. The
construction of the Eco recycling toilets is about 75% complete, 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.
execution overall has resulted in the communities’ strengthened ability to
develop and maintain sustainable water and sanitation systems, and to provide
supporting programs that enhance community awareness of the benefits of clean
water, sanitation and hygiene. The youth groups, the religious leaders and the
entire community have all enthusiastically unified to support the Project’s
sustainability and embrace it as part of their daily life.
- Women are no
longer stressed and exhausted with getting clean water
- Girls are no
longer exposed to predators while in search of water
- Children can
consistently attend school
enrollment and attendance has increased
grades have increased
- The overall
health of all community members has greatly improved
leadership has fully embraced the project and they are gainfully managing the
minimal user fees to sustain the water supply.
Over time, the
project has been gradually shifting from the hands of Bweyogerere Namboole
Rotary Club members to the community’s leadership elected to be ultimately
responsible for the Project’s sustainability. Likewise, ownership of all
equipment and related documentation have been passed to the communities’
trained water committee. This committee, which has received
highly-participatory trainings, has already demonstrated its capacity to
manage, maintain, and repair the equipment to ensure the equipment’s and
Outcomes and what
we have learned
The outcomes of
these two sister projects has been impressive; fewer children suffer from water
related illnesses, and attendance in schools increased by 40% leading to a 50%
increase in academic performances on final exams.
Along the way
we—Rotarians from the Bweyogerere Namboole Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of
Bellingham, Rotaractors, and the people of the Buffujja and Naluhonjohe
villages and communities—have learned that when we are inspired to work
together in the interest of an engaging cause, there is no problem bigger than
we are! The water stations are now “centers of health” in these communities.
community residents were afraid to go for health treatment because all they
were told was that they must stop drinking water from flood-contaminated open
sources, but they could not stop doing so because these were the only sources
they had available to them. Now, with the help of each of us that fear is gone.
We extend our thanks to the unfailing support of the Rotary Foundation, and the
Uganda government: the latter’s National Water & Sewerage Corporation was
instrumental to our projects in the permitting process, contributed its
expertise to the project’s construction, and allowed us to connect to an
existing municipal clean-water system so that our projects could supply clean
water reliably and without further treatment or pumping.
Just as the
Rotary Foundation work has helped save millions of lives around the globe, it
has also transformed the mindset of the many Rotarians involved in the Buffujja
and Naluhonjohe Projects, who were galvanized and energized by the Rotary
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