How clean water has reduced waterborne diseases in a rural village in northern Uganda

Diarrhoeal diseases have gone down since this borehole was constructed. Worms would be in that shallow well."

By Catherine Ntabadde
clean water, borehole, hygiene related illnesses, water supply, unsafe water
UNICEF Uganda/2020/Emorut
04 November 2020

In Teatit village, Kole District in northern Uganda, 300 community members have a reason to smile. 

Since April 2020, the members have not suffered from diarrhoeal diseases, thanks to Kole District authorities who have built a borehole that gives them clean and safe water.

Previously, the community was collecting contaminated water from a shallow well. “Diarrhoeal diseases have gone down since this borehole was constructed. Worms would be in that shallow well. Children and adults would fall sick,” says Okello Ronald, Local Council 1 chairperson.

Collecting water from the shallow well also meant a 40-minute trip to and from the water source. 

clean water, borehole, hygiene related illnesses, water supply, unsafe water
UNICEF Uganda/2020/Emorut

When a team from UNICEF and Kole District visited the borehole, it was clean and sparkling. The community devised ways to maintain the water source in case of breakdown, and also ensured that good hygiene and cleanliness was practiced. 

A water user committee, chaired by Santa Aciro, was elected to oversee the maintenance and cleanliness of the borehole. Although the borehole is still in good condition, each household using the water source has been contributing US$0.30 per month. The contributions have, however, dwindled as community members’ earnings have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I was elected to lead the water committee for this borehole. Even for the shallow well, I was the chair. Our primary role is to ensure that our environment is clean.

From the 60 households that make up 300 community members, two people are selected every week by Aciro to clean the water source and its surrounding environment.

clean water, borehole, hygiene related illnesses, water supply, unsafe water
UNICEF Uganda/2020/Emorut

Kole District Water Officer, Patrick Ocen, says that the district built the borehole in the 2019/2020 financial year when they saw that Teatit village did not have access to clean and safe water.

Clean water, good hygiene and a sanitary environment are key to preventing child malnutrition and poor health.

When community members meet to discuss issues of hygiene, they also talk about how to improve nutrition. Both are necessary to ending the scourge of malnutrition in their area.

In Kole and 14 other districts in northern and north-eastern Uganda, UNICEF is implementing the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU), which promotes a multi-sectoral approach to nutrition, integrating nutrition services with other sectors such as water and sanitation, education, and agriculture, among others. 

The European Union is funding DINU. Whereas UNICEF focuses on 15 districts, DINU is implemented in more than 37 districts.

Through the knowledge acquired by the district nutrition coordination committees and sub-county nutrition coordination committees from UNICEF-DINU trainings, communities are learning how malnutrition can be stopped through multiple angles involving all nutrition-sensitive sectors.