Uganda Red Cross water and sanitation projects bring relief to rural communities

Publié: 16 novembre 2011 12:19 CET

By Catherine Ntabadde

They carried on with their lives as though nothing was wrong. Men, women and children died of diarrhea. Many thought the cause of death was witchcraft while others said it was all God’s plan. The cause of death, though, was dirty water and poor hygiene.

The Rural Water and Sanitation Program managed by Uganda Red Cross Society and supported by Danish Red Cross and the European Union has been implemented in the districts of Ntoroko, Bulisa, Kabarole, Kasese and Hoima, bringing clean water and hygiene  promotion, and having a massive impact on communities. The programme targeted towns around Lake Albert which were prone to cholera outbreaks.

In his brief about the programme, Uganda Red Cross Society Secretary General Michael Richard Nataka said the society had constructed and rehabilitated over 550 water sources including bore holes, shallow wells and springs.

In addition, 776 water user committees have been trained with the aim of ensuring community participation to enhance ownership of the facilities for proper operation and maintenance.

To promote hygiene and sanitation, the Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST) approach was used in reaching and disseminating health information to community members. As a result,
4,191 model homes with basic sanitary facilities like pit latrines, bathing shelter, refuse pits and drying racks were established.

300 PHAST groups of 60 people each have been trained to act as role models to promote the best practices within their communities.

The model homes demonstrate the value of cheap hand washing facilities, clean homes, clean latrines, and clean kitchens. The PHAST groups also teach their neighbors about good hygiene and sanitation at household level.

Nataka said that URCS has also constructed a gravity flow scheme (GFS) for the supply of safe water to 6,000 people in Butiaba on the shores of Lake Albert. The communities in Butiaba previously only had access to water from the river which was polluted.

The URCS GFS receives raw water from River Waaki, treats it to acceptable standard and feeds it into the existing distribution network and tap stands.

To ensure proper functionality of water sources, 28 village pump mechanics were trained and equipped with repair tools. The programme also repaired 150 bore holes and shallow wells, benefiting 45,000 people, and established Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE) plans in 70 primary schools. PHASE kits and materials were distributed to schools while teachers and pupils were trained on the use of facilities like latrines, urinals and hand washing sets.

131 water user committees were trained and equipped with knowledge to effectively operate and maintain the constructed water sources and enhance their functionality even when the project ends.

With the provision of safe water and the hygiene promotion, poor sanitation related ailments and water borne diseases greatly reduce in the district.

On November 4, 2011, the URCS together with the Head of Delegation of European Union Ambassador Roberto Ridolfi and the Danish Ambassador Nathalia Feinberg handed over the facilities to the district leadership. The duo praised URCS for its successful implementation of the programme, noting that since the interventions, cholera outbreaks have not been reported in the five districts.