Clean water, healthy communities: How UNICEF's intervention transformed the community of Kalwana
The community of Kalwana in Kassanda District now has access to clean water and improved sanitation facilities, making it a model community for others to follow
At the onset of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Mubende and Kassanda districts in 2022, the Ministry of Health and partners including UNICEF mounted a comprehensive response to curb the transmission of the deadly disease. The response included contact tracing, surveillance, risk communication & community engagement, Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and case management in the affected districts.
On its part, UNICEF supported the response in several sectors among them, WASH and provision of IPC supplies. In addition, with funding from United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (UN-CERF), UNICEF drilled and installed a motorized solar water supply system to provide piped water to the Kalwana Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU), Kalwana primary and secondary schools, as well as the community.
“These interventions were intended to bolster the response in the affected districts to manage the suspected EVD cases and prevent further spread,” says Eng. Peter Opwanya, the UNICEF Mbarara Field Office Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene (WASH) Specialist.
Installed near the Kalwana Primary School, the solar-powered system draws water from an underground production well, and the water is stored in two elevated water tanks, each with a capacity of 5,000 liters. The water then gravitates to the mounted tap-stands, where users can collect it from.
According to Sarah Alinyikira Mugenyi, the Assistant Head Teacher of Kalwana Primary School, "UNICEF has been very active in helping our school. Before they installed the system, we had challenges that hindered the education of our learners, including the general cleanliness of the school, maintaining hand hygiene and all these were due to difficulties in accessing water.”
“The provision of clean water has not only improved the health and hygiene of the students but has also transformed the school,” as Mugenyi notes.
The impact of the water system is heavily felt by the pupils, as the Head Girl, Allen Namugenyi explains, "in the past, every morning meant going to the borehole, which is far from the school, to fetch water, which affected our class schedules due to the time used to fetch water."
“The intervention from UNICEF which was part of the wider response to the recent Ebola Outbreak in Mubende and Kassanda districts revealed a low coverage of safe and clean water at 54 per cent with high reliance on intermittent rainwater against the national average that stands at 68 per cent,” explains Eng. Peter Opwanya.
He further notes that the water supply system remains very beneficial to the schools and wider community even after the EVD outbreak was declared over.
To ensure sustainability, UNICEF, worked with the district leadership to establish and train water and sanitation committees to ensure proper use and sustainability of the water supply system before its commissioning and handing over to the beneficiaries.
“These committees play a vital role in guiding the community on appropriate use, protection, and collect user fees for maintenance of the water source. I am happy to not that over 1500 people benefit from the system,” Mr. Donath Eswilu, the Chief Administrative Officer of Kassanda District remarks.
The UNICEF interventions have transformed not only the school but also the surrounding communities as Sarah notes, “traders, farmers, and even passersby, are able to access clean and safe water, thanks to the tap-stand adjacent to the school that is accessible by the community."
The provision of clean water has had a significant impact on the community, transforming lives and improving their health conditions. The community of Kalwana in Kassanda District now has access to clean water and improved sanitation facilities, making it a model community for others to follow.
The provision of safe and clean water to the population of Kassanda fits in well with this year’s World Water Day of Accelerating Change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. Water affects all of us and as such we all need to take action.
The 2023 World Water Day is coinciding with the UN Water Conference in New York from 22-24 March where world leaders will meet to commit to water related goals and targets. UNICEF is calling upon the world leaders to prioritize children by ensuring:
1) Water for health: Rapidly scale up efforts and investments to provide access to safe water for every child and protect them from life-threatening diseases.
2) Water for climate: In the face of worsening climate change, adapt WASH services to be climate-resilient and help protect children and communities from floods, droughts, and other climate-induced disasters.
3) Water for cooperation: Amid conflicts, implement efficient coordination and strengthen cooperation between parties, to ensure children and communities continue to have access to safe WASH.