UNICEF's water system transforms lives in Longaroe Sub County, Kotido District in Uganda
Daniel's joy of having access to water all the time
Longaroe Sub County in Kotido District, Uganda, grapples with recurring droughts that severely impact the local population and their livelihoods. These can go on for months, without a single drop of rain; however, thanks to the innovative efforts of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners, a transformative change has taken place in this arid region, bringing hope and resilience to the community.
At the heart of this transformation is the Multiple Use Water System (MUWS) constructed in the village of Nacuuma, Longaroe Sub-County, Kotido District, with funding from UNICEF for strengthening climate resilience intervention for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
The MUWS serves a population of around 4,400 people living in six villages, and provides water to Lopuyo Health Centre II, Kanawar Primary School, and a nearby Catholic church.
The system was installed at a cost of US$250,000 and financed through UNICEF’s set-aside funds meant to combat climate change. It includes a total of 1,500 metres of transmission pipeline, 740 metres of distribution pipelines covering six villages, a pumping station, 60,000 litre water reservoir tank and 40,000 litre water-reservoir tanks for livestock, four micro irrigation systems, six animal troughs and 15 community tap stands. Three existing community boreholes were installed with solar powered pumps, and together now serve as the main water source for the entire system.
The system has impacted the lives of the community and among the many lives touched by this remarkable initiative is Daniel, a 17-year-old cattle herder who has experienced first-hand, the profound impact of the water system on his daily life and future aspirations.
Previously, every day, Daniel would embark on a challenging journey of herding animals over 10 kilometres in search of water. It was a laborious task that consumed much of his time and often left the animals and his family struggling to access enough water and feed.
“In the past, due to the water source being far, the animals were not feeding sufficiently because we had to move at a time when it is safe to move and also leave early due to insecurity,” Daniel shares.
However, everything changed when Daniel learned that UNICEF would be bringing a watering system to their community.
"The moment I saw construction taking place for the water system, I ran and asked, and they said it was a watering system that will provide water for home use, gardening and animal-watering," Daniel recalls with a smile. "I was so happy. It's made a difference in our lives."
With the installation of the MUWS, water became readily available near their homes. The animals no longer had to travel long distances to quench their thirst, enabling them to graze and feed more comfortably. The water system not only improved the health of the animals but also increased milk production, ensuring a steady supply of nourishment for the entire household.
"We all have enough milk in the household now," Daniel explains. "Adults, children, and herdsmen alike, we have enough to consume."
The positive impact of the water system extended beyond the immediate needs of the community. The newfound abundance of milk allowed Daniel's family to produce butter, both for sale and for their own consumption, especially for the children. "I see people growing healthier, and we're also able to make butter for sale," he proudly shares.
Education has always been a dream for Daniel. He yearns to go to school and become a pastor one day, inspired by the love and unity he witnesses when pastors pray with them, referring to each other as brothers and sisters. However, the decision to attend school lies not solely in Daniel's hands but with his parents and the wider community.
In addition to supporting his family's herding activities, Daniel actively participates in the community's gardening efforts. He assists his mother during the weeding season, finding joy in supporting the cultivation of crops that sustain their household.
“The presence of water throughout the year has not only made herding and gardening simpler but has also enhanced the community's resilience during the dry season when rain is scarce. "Life has become much simpler due to adequate water that has not only made the feeding of animals much easier but also growing crops," Daniel explains.
"The convenience in feeding the animals and growing food for home consumption cannot be overstated, the lives of the community especially their nutrition have been improved and this is strongly linked to the MUWS. Moreover, the community Health Centre II also depends on this MUWS," Kotido District Water Officer, Mr John Paul Kedi shares.
While the MUWS has brought significant improvements to their lives, challenges remain. The community still grapples with tick infestations due to a lack of acaricides. Moreover, insecurity and the scarcity of food have led to temptations for young people to raid neighbouring communities. However, Daniel remains hopeful that through dialogue and peaceful resolutions, conflicts can be overcome, and peace can prevail.
“We identified the dire need for the MUWS in improving the lives of the community in Nacuuma. While they grapple with many challenges, including tick infestation, the construction of this system by UNICEF has impacted the community positively,” notes John-Bosco Sempala, the UNICEF WASH Specialist based in the Karamoja Region.
The MUWS project has truly been a lifeline of hope for the people of Longaroe Subcounty. It has improved community resilience, provided essential services to schools and healthcare facilities.