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Uganda, April 2015: No more pumping: UNICEF provides piped water to the people of Kapedo, Kaabong District

© UNICEF Uganda

By Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye

It was a moment of joy when taps of clean water were turned on during the launch of the UNICEF–supported solar motorised water system in Kapedo Sub County, Kaabong District, North Eastern Uganda.

The new water system constructed with funding from Department for International Development (DFID), is providing clean and safe water to a population of 3,500 people in Kapedo sub-county, including a primary school, health centre, trading centre and the surrounding community.

The system that cost over 300 million Uganda shillings has a capacity tank of 60,000 litres, 98 solar panels and has been designed to pump 6000 litres every hour. The water generated is much more than the people of Kapedo need in a day. “The system has a capacity to feed the community beyond their demand”, says Franco Ongom, District Engineering Officer.

Kapedo is one of the sub counties in Kaabong District, Karamoja region that has suffered water shortage for a very long time. With only one borehole serving over 3000 people, the community had to endure long queues, long distances in order to access clean and safe water. Others resorted to collecting unsafe water from alternative sources like man made ponds, which exposed them to water borne diseases, snake bites and the fear of drowning. Fetching water was a risky venture then!

Anna Amuge, a mother of five, says the water system is a big relief. “I and my children had to travel 6kms to the borehole, queues were long and we would spend many hours waiting to get water,” she mentions.

As a result of the inadequate water supply in Amuge’s household, a lot was compromised. Washing hands and bathing were not a priority. The little water available, was reserved for cooking and drinking. No wonder, skin infections and diarrhoea were very common illnesses among her children. She also says diseases like cholera and hepatitis B were very rampant among the community, especially during the rainy season.

From the jubilation, there is no doubt that the situation will definitely become better for the Kapedo populace. “We now have access to clean and safe water, very close to our homes at all times,” Amuge mentions with a smile.

UNICEF Moroto Zonal Office Chief, Rebecca Kwagala notes that investing in clean and safe water, directly impacts on the health and wellbeing of communities especially the young children who are more vulnerable than any other age group to the ill effects of unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hygiene.

“The investment therefore, will ensure less and less children die from water related illnesses,” Kwagala adds.

“The clean and safe water from the solar system, coupled with the improved sanitation, will significantly improve the lives of the people of Kapedo,” asserts Joseph Komol, District Chairman who was the Chief Guest at the event. He thanked UNICEF and DFID for choosing Kapedo for the water system and urged the local leaders to ensure it is properly maintained.

The pupils of Nakalas Primary School and beneficiaries of the solar water system, also joined in celebrating the clean and safe water. Thanks to UNICEF, the school now has constant water supply and pupils don’t have to endure long distances in search of water for cooking and drinking at school like they used to in the past.

“I am so happy to see water in the school compound. Fetching water was very tedious and it interrupted our class sessions. Water shortages meant delayed meals or no meals at all,” says Lotyan Paul the School Head Boy.

According to Timat Prossie, Head Girl of Nakalas, many girls dropped out of school due to hygiene related issues. “During their menstruation periods, many girls were mocked and branded ‘smelly’ because they didn’t have water to clean up. However this is no more. The girls now have access to constant water supply and will bathe as and when they need to and more girls will stay and complete school.”

Stressing the benefits of clean and safe water, the District Chairperson urged the Community of Kapedo to ensure proper maintenance of the system to avoid contaminating the water. He also urged them to embrace proper sanitation and hygiene practices in their homes as this will enable them live better and healthier lives with no diseases.

Amuge who has been around and observed the suffering due to water scarcities, couldn’t agree more. As a water board committee member she is confident that the system will be protected and certain that the lives of her fellow community members will greatly improve with the provision of safe water and proper sanitation and hygiene.

“No more pumping. No more trekking. All we have to do now is turn on the taps and we will draw clean water,” she concludes with a smile.



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