An estimated 8 million Ugandans lack access to safe and clean water. If that is not bad enough, 27 million do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
The crisis is particularly hard-hitting for the urban poor who suffer the effects of inadequate sanitation facilities like toilets on the one hand, and have to spend a huge chunk of their savings to buy water.
According to experts, this water and sanitation poverty has kept millions of people even poorer as they have to spend heavily on basics and therefore cannot save money to rise from the desperate situation.
In a bid to address some of these challenges, some community based organizations are stepping in to help.
One of them, Hope of Children and Women victims of violence (HOCW), a Ndejje Division based Non- government organization this week unveiled 10 Ecosan toilets and 10 boreholes in a project dubbed a ‘Water for a decent life’.
The project is aimed at providing safe and clean water to the community of Ndejje in Makindye division in the wake of the fight against the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
While launching one of the boreholes and toilets on September 15in Mutungo Village, Ndejje Division, HOCW executive director John Bolingo Ntahir said that they came out to help people go through the trying times of the pandemic whose added challenge is living without access to safe water.
“Now more than ever, access to safe water is critical to the health of families in Uganda. We have so far constructed 5 boreholes and water will be accessed at a zero cost but It is up to you the citizens to utilize the well and toilets to the best use,” he said
He added: “We have also constructed 65 wells for farmers and 5 toilets have so far been built. We built this Ecosann toilet and will also help the citizens who access Mutungo Health Centre 2.”
The project is supported by the Republic of Slovenia through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It commenced on June 1 and will run up to October 15, 2023.
Shafik Ssonko, the Ndejje Division Mayor thanked the Bolingo for considering the Ndejje community and constructing wells, toilets. He also urged local leaders to closely work with HOCW to ensure that the community has access to safe and clean water.
“The responsibility starts with all of us in the community and our participation is key. So we pledge to work with HOCW to ensure that the project is fully implemented because it will benefit us in a positive way and the community will keep them clean,” he said.
He advised that: “The founders will always monitor the projects so we need to keep it safe and ongoing so that we can all benefit out of it. We need to ensure that these properties are secured. It should be key and if the tap gets spoilt please repair it as a community,”
Godfrey Kigoye, Program Director Katende Harambe Rural Urban Training Centre Namugongo, said that the project will also improve urban livelihood as it can be used for urban agricultural activities especially those carried out on a small scale thus helping people improve on their style of living.
“We also need to sensitize the people, make them aware that water must be recycled by treating and cleaning it before it can be used again or returned to the environment,” he said
Odong David, Executive Director Eastern Water Ways noted that the shallow wells are powered by solar pumps and water will be accessed at zero cost.
“The villagers have to come together and maintain the well so that it can be of use to them for a long period of time. Though some people were hesitant to provide space to construct the wells however they later complied,” he said
Asked by the locals whether the water is safe for drinking, Odong said that the underground water is clean and safe for drinking even if it is not boiled, assuring the community that the water will not make anyone sick.