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Friday, July 21, 2017

#Bududa District residents trek for 10km in search of #Water - #Uganda


BY: LEONARD MUKOOLI
The role of water in our lives is substantive and the saying goes “water is life and clean water means health”.  Clean and safe drinking water is not easily available in in many of hard to reach and distant villages in Bududa District in Eastern Uganda.
There are over 4000 residents in Bududa District who are exposing their lives to preventable diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and bilharzia with these diseases being on the rise.
The acute shortage of water can be attributed to the incompetence of the Nabweya gravity flow scheme phase one contractor (KOL Service) which has failed to deliver clean and safe water to the communities.
The most affected communities are Nabweya, Bukigai and Bushiro sub counties (Nabweya hill) where residents have had no option but to walk for 10 kilometers down slope in search of water.
Even though families have some food, they need the water to cook and clean, wash dishes and for their own hygiene.  The place is very hilly and many hours are spent on just the task of going to fetch water. Yet Nabweya is located in the middle water bodies on the valley sides and it is only a matter of pumping the water closer to where the people live.
The dry season is the hardest on the residents because they cannot harvest rain water and are then only left with the long walk down the hill for water.
A 54-year-old Namanda Grace of Buluwande village in Nabweya sub-county located at altitude 1800 meters above sea level, says the situation of the residents moving down the hill in search of water is a normal routine to them though hectic.
She adds “I move for three hours every day just to get 20 litters of water for cooking food for my children without that it means they have to stay hungry even if we have food”
Looking quite aged, Grace, the mother of 8 further articulates that she has done this as her daily routine for the thirty years she has been in her marriage.
Having only one spring serving over 10 villages is a great challenge. “We just line up for water as if we are in the market and sometimes we get ourselves fighting as we struggle to fetch just a drip of water to the jerrican” she exclaims as her eyes well with tears.
Living on Nabweya hill, life is quite cumbersome as Jenifer Namono, a 47 year old of Bumaasa village Bukigai sub county narrates “I wake up in the morning as early as 4:00 am in the morning and by 4:45 I have to be on my way to the valley to collect water that I will use when I return from the garden and by 6:30 I need to be at home so that I prepare to go to the garden”.
The idea of fetching water in the dark now poses another risk to the mothers.  They can get attacked as they walk in the dark. In addition, the children from these families also live a hard life.  They have to go to school with jerrycans for water so that they return with water from school.  Should they refuse, their parents or guardians punish them usually by a good beating or denying them food.
Another resident of Bumahase village called Kutosi Michael kutosi micheal treks for 13 kilo meters daily to Bulucheke Secondary School for water.  He says he has resorted to bathing in  nearby Manafwa river next to his school as he cannot carry a jerrycan for all that long distance uphill.
He adds “I am the only one doing this but even big men of my father’s age come here to bathe because we get water from very far in Nakalema spring and when one evaluates the energy of carrying the water over such a long distance, it is better to wash here instead of carrying the water home only to bathe it”. 
The residents share Manafwa river with their animals while they bathe in it, drink it and use it for cooking and washing clothes as well as kitchen utensils.  You can see how easily people can get sick.
Makomu Ben,  the district local council vice chairman of Nabweya says the water crisis in his sub county presents a very big obstacle for developing the area because half of the morning hours which people could use to go to the garden are wasted spent on fetching water.  “Nabweya hill is the food basket of Bududa and the surrounding districts. We grow all kinds of food here and still have the capacity to feed our families and other people.  But how can this be when our people are unable to access clean water from a closer source so they can use the extra hours on farming?” he states.
Water contractor problems
The government of Uganda, under the Ministry of Water and Environment, established the 13.7 billon shilling Nabweya gravity flow scheme to cater for the water needs in 2013.  However, the project contractor failed to meet the target. The delayed project has been attributed to the contractor, KOL Contractors Ltd. who has been inconsistent in paying workers.  The none payment has forced many workers to abandon the work site so there is hardly anything being done timely.  According to the principle engineer Stanley Watenga, the ministry has availed all the necessary financial resources required for the project but the contractor is still failing.
Watenga adds that “we have been too fair to the contractor and always extended the contract but all in vain”.  Even Watila Wilson, the Bududa District chairperson says “as leaders of the district, we have tried to put pressure on the contractor but it has always been futile as the contractor is always never on site.  You can’t believe the contractor only appears on the site for work when he hears us making noise but the rest of the days he is always away and does not bother about the project yet he has been paid a huge sum of money”.
The Nabweya gravity flow scheme started in 2013 and was to take 2 years.  However up to date the project is not yet complete and because the treatment plant that is the heart of the project has not even been accomplished.  At the time of writing this, all efforts to contact the contractor was fruitless as they were unavailable to give any comments.



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