By Joseph Baguma
Over 20,000 primary schools pupils and community members in Pakanyi and Mirya Sub Counties are to get access to safe and clean water courtesy of the Water Trust, an NGO operating in Masindi and Kiryandongo districts in western Uganda.
The NGO under WASH program has constructed modern hand dug shallow wells, bore holes and rain water harvesting tanks under water aid project. 12 hand dug shallow wells have already been sunk through community partnerships.
Three bore holes, 3 five stance pit latrine and 2 rain water harvest tanks have also been provided to the institutions like schools, and health centers in Masindi district under WASH program.
Some of the facilities were commissioned this week in three schools of Kigezi, Kijjogoro and Kisindizi primary schools and in some villages in Pakanyi and Miirya Sub Counties.
Laula Garcia-Puig, the program manager Water Trust Masindi area said that they have invested over shs208 millions in projects that were implemented 2015/16 financial year. “We have spent a total of shs95 million on the 12 shallow well, sh60 millions on the bore holes and the rest on five stance pit latrines and water harvesting tanks,” Laula accounted adding that 12 villages, four health centers and 8 primary schools have benefited.
Laula noted that they have invested a total of over shs2 billion in the various projects since 2008 when they started operating in the two districts. “We have built over 277 shallow wells, 3 protected springs, 22 bore holes, 21 five stance pit latrines, 15 rain water tanks and 3 elevated tanks in schools, the community and health centers since we began operating,” Laula said.
Commissioning some of the projects facilities, Francis Kyomuhendo the district education officer Masindi reiterated lack of water for schools in the district as a major challenge. “We have 69 government aided primary schools in the district but 13 of them do not have access to any water point and yet it is a recommendation that by the education ministry that every school should have water,” he said.
He appealed to the schools that have benefited from the projects to use the facilities well to serve them for a long period.
Martin Opio, Water Trust’s WASH project coordinator said that, failure by the community to own projects put in palace as another challenge. “Some of the facilities we have constructed have broken down because the community have failed to maintain them thinking that they are for Water Trust and don’t have user committees in place,” he said.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Elizabeth Nyamahunge the head teacher Kisindizi Primary School with a
total enrolment of 463 pupils said that they were facing a big challenge before getting a modern hand dag shallow well from the Water Trust.
“Sometimes some of our pupils were being forced to pay money before fetching water from a community well in this village and this was a very big challenge on our side as a school but we had no option” she noted.
Nyamahunge added that, some old female pupils in P.5 P.6 and P.7 could be harassed by villagers on their way to or at the village well as they tried to get water.
Hariet Tekya, the LCI chairperson of Kirunda village said that they were drinking water from a dam with cows, goats, and monkeys before getting before getting shallow well. “We had a lot of malaria, diarrhea and bilharzias related diseases due to taking contaminated water but these have greatly reduced after getting a shallow well, “she said.