By Peter Kasango, TRF Cadre of Technical Adviser and member of the Rotary Club of Bweyogerere-Namboole
To develop a response to persistent water flooding in Butalejja District, Uganda, caused by overflowing of the Manafa River, my Rotary Club of Bweyogerere Namboole partnered with the Rotary Club of Bellingham in Washington, USA, on a global grant project.
This flooding would destroy gardens, which affected food production and cash crops. Already problematic sanitation was worsened as toilet facilities were often overflowing due to the flooding, which in turn forced the river’s highly contaminated water into the only open water sources for the village and its surrounding communities. This flooding was dramatically affecting the health of people in the village and nearby communities by spreading a number of diseases, such as Cholera and diarrhea.
The flooding created other problems as well: trees were destroyed, resulting in further erosion and worsened flooding, and serious scarcity of firewood. Education standards were reduced because of increased illnesses, and time and energy focused on finding relatively clean drinking water.
Following a comprehensive community assessment, our club developed an Adopt-A-Village project for this area. The project had four components: water and sanitation, healthcare, education and economic development.
Through a global grant we were able to:
- Provide clean drinking water;
- Provide hygiene and sanitation facilities;
- Educate the community on health impacts and importance of clean drinking water, hygiene and sanitation;
- Provide energy-saving stoves to eliminate in-home air pollution;
- Construct three composting toilets;
- Distribute reusable sanitary pads to community women and school children;
- Train and provide follow-up support to ensure sustainability.
The project impacted 6,000 people, including residents of the Buffujja village and six adjacent communities.
During the post-project evaluations, it became clear that the project success led to a strain on resources as neighbors from surrounding communities starting coming to access clean water. Thousands of outlying community members began trekking long distances to also access the safe drinking water resulting in devastating effects on women and children, primarily girls, who would spend long and exhausting hours walking to the new water points.
We conducted a community impact assessment to find out what could be done to improve this developing problem. The assessment results were clear: the same project must be implemented in neighboring villages and communities. Since then, we have been able to provide similar water and sanitation facilities to the nearby village of Naluhonjohe.
Youth groups, religious leaders and the entire community have all enthusiastically unified to support these projects and their sustainability. Over time, the project has been gradually shifting from the hands of the Rotary club to the community’s leadership elected to be responsible for the project’s sustainability. Ownership of all equipment and related documentation has been passed to the community’s trained water committee. This committee, which has received training, has already demonstrated its capacity to manage, maintain, and repair the equipment.
Along the way we—Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Bweyogerere Namboole 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, no problem is bigger than us! The water stations are now centers of health in these communities.
Before, 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 couldn’t stop doing so because these were the only sources available to them. Now, with the help of each of us, that fear is gone.
This post was original featured on the WASRAG blog. WASRAG is an international group of Rotarians, their family members, program participants and alumni with expertise and passion in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). WASRAG advises on club and district WASH projects while offering a wealth of resources for enhancing initiatives. Visit www.wasrag.org to access resources, become a member, or request assistance.