Madudu community finds hope in sustainable water system amid WASH crisis
In 2019, UNICEF in partnership with USAID conceptualized the idea of setting up a climate-smart water generation system at Madudu Health Centre III.
As the world marks the World Water Day this year, the story of Madudu Health Centre III in Mubende District, Uganda, stands out as an example of how access to clean water can change lives and improve health conditions of children and their families.
For years, the community around Madudu struggled to access safe and clean water. Some had to travel long distances to fetch water, while others had to rely on expensive sources of water, such as buying from vendors. The situation was made worse by frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases, which affected both the community and the health facility.
In 2019, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with United States Agency for International Development (USAID), conceptualized the idea of setting up a climate-smart water generation system at Madudu Health Centre III. The solar-powered system was designed to collect underground water, making it a sustainable source of clean water for the health facility and the surrounding community.
Eng. Dickson Kakyereka, the Water Officer in Mubende District, observed that before UNICEF came in, the community relied on rainwater or had to fetch water over long distances or buy water, which was expensive.
“However, with the establishment of the water system, the community got taps near them, making access to water easier and free of charge,” he exclaims.
“The water system project was a game-changer for Madudu Health Centre III and the larger community. Access to water had been a significant challenge for the health centre,” reveals Mary Namusoke, an Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Officer.
She notes that the water tanks installed by UNICEF have helped a lot within the facility, “bringing much-needed water nearby.”
“The water system not only supported handwashing and IPC in the maternity ward of the health facility, but it also provided safe water for the larger community, reducing the risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and dysentery,” Mary reveals.
“The community relied on rainwater or had to fetch water over long distances or buy water, which was expensive," says Eng. Kakyereka. “However,” he adds, “the establishment of the water system has brought taps closer to the community, making access to water easier and free of charge.”
Kato Kaamu, the In-Charge of Madudu Health Center III, notes that the facility was the epicenter for the recent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. He highlighted the importance of having adequate water supply saying, “the water played a key role in ensuring adherence to IPC, cleaning of the health facility, and for staff usage.”
He further expresses gratitude to UNICEF and USAID for the project, noting that the community had also benefited significantly since they no longer had to travel long distances to fetch water.
The benefits of the water system project are evident among the community beneficiaries, who include Resty Nabagulanyi, a mother of six. Resty notes that before the water system was installed, they faced challenges accessing water and had to pay for it using prepaid cards, “which was sometimes unaffordable.”
“However,” she says, “with the water system, we now have access to clean and safe water, free of charge, making life more comfortable. Even residents from as far as two miles come to fetch water at Madudu Health Center III.”
“The story of Madudu Health Centre III highlights the need to prioritize access to water and sanitation, especially for vulnerable populations, such as children. As the world marks World Water Day, the need for urgent action to achieve Goal 6 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be overstated,” says Eng. Peter Obwanya, UNICEF Mbarara Field Office WASH Specialist.
The theme for this year World Water Day is Accelerating Change to solve the water and sanitation crisis. Water affects all of us and as such we all need to take action. The ongoing WASH crisis, exacerbated by climate change and conflict, requires rapid scaling up of efforts and investments to provide access to safe water for every child and protect them from life-threatening diseases.
“Adapting WASH services to be climate-resilient and strengthening cooperation between parties amid conflicts is necessary to ensure that children and communities continue to have access to safe water and sanitation,” Eng. Peter adds.
From March 22-24, 2023, world leaders and experts will meet in New York for the UN Water Conference to commit to water related goals and targets. UNICEF is calling upon 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.