“Our water is enough”

UNICEF solar motorised systems provide adequate water

By Catherine Ntabadde
clean and safe water for refugees and host communities
UNICEF Uganda/2018/Sibiloni
15 May 2018

Jane Nameka,15, a primary Seven pupil of Imvepi Primary School in Arua district can now concentrate on her lessons without worrying about water. A refugee from South Sudan, Nameka is among over 46,000 refugees and nationals accessing safe water from new motorized water supply systems in Arua and Yumbe district. Each person enjoys atleast 20 litres of water per day.

With three tap stands a few minutes from her house, Nameka is able to reach her school on time at 7:00am.

I collect water in the morning at 6:30am and in the evening after school at 5:00pm. In the morning, I use the water for bathing and washing utensils before I go to school,

Nameka says.

When Nameka, her brother and aunt had just arrived at Imvepi Refugee Settlement, they experienced a shortage of clean and safe water. She narrates how they would collect dirty and smelly water from River Enau. In addition to the river, they had a borehole whose water was not reliable. Authorities later switched to water trucking, which Nameka says did not solve the situation.

People were always very many. With the new arrangements (water trucking), one tank was availed to us. When the wait would get finished, we would wait for a long time before it is refilled. Lugbaras (South Sudanese) and nationals would always fight since the tank was shared. I would spend an hour waiting in the line. This means I would be late for school,

she narrates

Nameka says she now spends less time at the tap stands and is grateful because she goes to class early and has time to read her books instead of lining up. “We now have too much water. This water is clean. It is chlorinated because you can hear it from the way it smells,” she adds.

Apart from bathing, Nameka uses the water for drinking, cooking, washing, watering crops, feeding animals.

With funding from the Japanese Government, UNICEF through Water Mission Uganda has reached 46,000 South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan nationals with 20 litres of clean and safe water per day. This has been achieved by constructing eight new boreholes and five new solar powered motorized water supply systems.

Dorothy Poni who came in 2017 also says there was lack of water at that time, adding that they would fetch water from the river and a borehole amidst high numbers. “We would line up for a very long time that sometimes our jerrycans would even be stolen. When a tank was brought, it was not enough,” Poni says.

A mother of 2 children, she further reveals that, “We now have plenty of water. No more quarrelling or even gossiping at the water points. We no longer suffer from diarrhoea because this new water is clean. With the previous tanks, the water would be unclean because the tank was never washed,” Poni says.

With the abundance of water, Poni and her family can afford to bathe five times a day. “We can bath as many times as we want. We water our greens to enable us have a balanced diet, we wash our clothjes, clean our utensils and homes,” Poni notes.

Charles Arimaga, a national and secretary of the water user committee of Point D2 Zone 2 in Imvepi Refugee Settlement could not hide his joy when asked about the new tap stands. “I am grateful to the Government of Japan through UNICEF and Water Mission for bringing us this water stands,” says Arimaga who requested that his gratitude be delivered to the Government of Japan. Water Mission Uganda is an implementing partner.

He notes that the refugees and nationals peacefully share the stands without any quarrel. “This water is just enough for all of us,” Arimaga further noted.

As a way of promoting proper hygiene and sanitation at the facility, a fence was constructed and communities are always mobilized to clean and sweep the area. “We were trained on how to protect the water sources by maintaining the fence constructed by Water Mission Uganda and encourage the community to always wash their jerrycans before collecting water,” Arimaga says.

Samuel Apire, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Community Development Officer, Water Mission Uganda enlightens that motorized water systems once completed are cheaper than water trucking, adding that it is also more sustainable as the community can access water at any time. Water trucking is recommended for emergency phases and communities have to wait for trucks to bring water into the tanks.

He also adds that they treat the water and monitor the water treatment levels to ensure it is clean and safe for consumption.

UNICEF Uganda/2018/Mbiri