BY KABONA ESIARA
Busoga Trust efforts to bring back clean water to communities is not only lifting the burden off mothers and children walking long distances. The charity organisation emove is also commended checking the spread of COVID-19 pandemic that has brought the world to its knees.
The trust started repairing dysfunctional boreholes in Buyende District April this year, as a response to President Museveni’s appeal to stakeholder to help in repairing non-functional boreholes, to ensure that the population access clean water.
In Buyende, the Busoga Trust has repaired 47 dysfunctional boreholes, some have been in disuse for over 10 years. The trust targets to repair 100 by December 2020, a move which is set to further reduced queues at water points, time children and their mothers spend each day walking to collect water and increase the safe water coverage.
Busoga Trust has also installed several 150 litres plastic water tanks for the communities to wash their hands near the boreholes to ensure that before a person pumps the water, they have to wash their hands to stop spread of COVID 19 under the Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project.
The hand washing points are also used for training the community to trigger hand washing habits as recommended by scientists to stop diseases spread through handling dirty surfaces and handshakes.
“We feel as an organisation, it’s our call this year to put resources aside to effectively work with our communities and the respective authorities to ensure these boreholes are revartilised,” Johnson Waibi, Country Programme Manager Busoga Trust explained.
Against this backdrop, Richard Ogwal Odyero Resident District Commissioner Buyende describes Busoga Trust as a true development partner.
“In the district we have briefcase development partners. But we are proud of Busoga Trust. We really wish that they continue to work for us to improve water coverage, sanitation and hygiene in Buyende,” said Odyero.
A big population in Buyende district does not access clean, affordable and safe water partly because of the high number of dysfunctional boreholes, the main source of clean water in the area.
According to Odyero, the clean-safe water coverage in Buyende stands at 47 per cent, which is far below the national average of 60 per cent. The hygiene and sanitation in the area is also wanting as some members of the community still defecate in the open.
The high number of dysfunctional boreholes is partly blamed on low quality of parts used in the construction of boreholes. While Buyende water contains high mineral content which causes the pipes to rust and corrode, technicians used galvanized iron pipes to build the boreholes.
Currently Busoga Trust is removing the gulvanised iron pipes and replacing them with stainless steel. Boreholes installed using galvanized iron pipes are prone to rust, as a result they break down fast.
Instead, experts at Busoga Trust recommend the use of stainless pipes, rods and cylinders with a long lifespan as they resist corrosion
“The Busoga Trust has the capacity. The speed of their work is unmatched. They have trained water management committees to ensure sustainability of the Buyende Wash Project,” said Odyero.
Borehole technicians to be paid
Busoga Trust plans to roll out a “Payment By Result Programme (BPR) to ensure sustainable maintenance—it should never break down again. Under the programme borehole technicians will earn a monthly stipend as opposed to being volunteers.
“Nobody wants to work as a volunteer. He has other work to do for a living,” said Waibi blaming the 6700 dysfunctional boreholes countrywide to dependency on volunteers who abandoned the work.
The persistent low funding of the water department constrains holding back scaling up of water coverage in the district.
Information from the district planner’s office indicates that at least Sh4.7 billion is needed to increase water coverage; improve hygiene and sanitation in the next five years.
However, the Buyende District Water Engineer Agrey Zijja said Shs19.02 million was appropriated for sanitation and hygiene in the 2020/2021 district budget.
It is unlikely that the district will drill all the 30 boreholes in time given the low funding. Estimates indicate that drilling one borehole costs Shs 18 million. This translates into Shs 540 million for the district to drill 30 boreholes.
In Kamuli, Busoga Trust is using its own funding to finance the construction of shallow hand-wells in Bugulumbya, Butayondwa sub counties and Kisozi Nawandako.
Busoga Trust will move out of Kamuli in October 2020 to enter Namutumba, specifically to rehabilitate the dysfunctional boreholes in the district. The district has 100 boreholes which are in disuse. The Busoga Trust targets to reach 100 percent functional boreholes.
The Busoga Trust is mulling model villages in Busoga sub region to further reduce the rate of open defecation, one of the most unhealthy hygiene habits in Busoga region.
The model villages are planned to be set up in Namutumba, Kamuli, Mayuge and Bugiri and Jinja districts.
“The aim is to push latrine coverage in the beneficiary project districts to 100 per cent,” said Waibi, further explaining that each household.
According to Waibi, each household will be facilitated to have a rubbish dump pit, bathrooms, and bath areas and also to separate households from sleeping with livestock. The move improve sanitation and hygiene in the area.
In Mayuge, dysfunctional boreholes are to be repaired while modern latrines which are washable are to be constructed.
In October 2020, at least 30 villages in Makubira and Buyikwe will be declared open defecation free zones.
The households have benefited from the Busoga Trust has partnership with the Iceland Embassy which selected 32 schools and 39 villages in areas known for open defecation.
The main drive of this project is to have pit latrines which can contain human dung (faeces) as opposed to the old latrines which turned out to be a source of contamination of the environment.
Waibi says the state of the latrines was appalling as they were filthy, did not have covers, that even the kids would fear to use them, ending up defecating outside or on sides.
An additional 167 villages Buyende rural and Buyende Town Council are also set to benefit from the open defecation free zones.
Low interest rate credit
The Busoga Trust-UN-Habitat partnership which started in Bugembe Town Council in Jinja to improve sanitation in the area through low interest rate loans.
The money borrowed is invested in constructing and improving latrines into flash or pour water toilets. The community also borrows to construct ecological sanitation toilets.
The interest rate ranges from 1 per cent to 1.5 percent per annum.
Busoga Trust has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Water and Environment to pilot a microcredit facility to finance domestic water harvesting in Kamuli district. Households, bars, hotels, schools and other institutions are the targeted beneficiaries. The project has been tested in Kaliro, Buyikwe, Jinja.