Rwenziramire village is located in the Masindi District of Uganda. This village is gifted with fertile soils suitable for commercial farming and food crop production. This has boosted community members to actively engage in food crop and sugarcane production for both commercial sale and home use. They grow food crops like cassava, sweet potatoes, and beans for subsistence purposes only.
A natural abundance of sand in the area serves as another valuable natural resource. People mine the sand as an economic activity that is a source of income for the youth in the village.
The village's natural resources fall short when it comes to water, however. There is only one water point serving more than 3,000 people here. This has caused significant water stress for the community, especially during the dry season when the demand for water increases.
Yovan Beyeza, a 74-year-old father of ten children, described the village's water situation as "a serious water crisis."
"Homes use water sparingly, some bathing only once a day. Washing clothes becomes an enormous challenge since getting water is tough," he said.
To make matters worse, the well requires significant repairs. That leads to a slow water discharge that causes people to wait in long lines to fill up their water containers each day.
"There is always a lot of crowding and long queues, leading to fighting for water, especially in the evenings," said primary school-aged Beatrice.
Because the well is not reliable, people turn to alternate and unsafe sources for water. One is a stagnant pool of water that fills up with the rain. Passing animals walk through, defecate in, and drink from the pool, while people must wade in to collect water. These conditions expose people to waterborne diseases, like typhoid, which causes families to spend a lot of money on medical fees and leads students to miss school.
Here’s what we’re going to do about it:
We are going to restore water to the broken-down borehole. Since this water point is located at the center of the village and easily accessible by the majority of people, unlike the springs which are located at the far ends of the village, when this borehole is restored to its original status, it will provide the community with easy access to clean and safe water. We will remove the old pump, clear out the well, reinstall a new stainless steel pump, and build a new well pad to protect the water.
Training’s main objectives are the use of latrines and observing proper hygiene practices since these goals are inherently connected to clean water provision. Open defecation, water storage in unclean containers, and the absence of handwashing are all possible contaminants of a household water supply. Each participating village must achieve Open Defecation Free status (defined by one latrine per household) before the pump installation for a shallow hand-dug well.
This social program includes the assignment of 1 Community Development Officer (CDO) to each village. The CDO encourages each household to build an ideal homestead that consists of a latrine, handwashing facility, a separate structure for animals, a rubbish pit, and a drying rack for dishes.
We also implement the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach with each of our village partners. This aims to improve the sanitation and hygiene practices and behaviors of a village. During these sessions, village leaders naturally emerge and push the community to realize that individual households' current practices – particularly the practice of open defecation – are unhealthy and affect the entire village. CLTS facilitates a process in which community members realize the negative consequences of their current water, sanitation, and hygiene behaviors and are inspired to take action. Group interactions are frequent motivators for individual households to build latrines, use the latrines, and demand that other families do the same.
The aim is that all households own an improved latrine. Many families do not use a latrine but use the bush. Due to open defecation, feces are spread all over the village. This leads to waterborne diseases and contamination of groundwater and surface water. Our aim is that the community can live a healthy life free of preventable diseases. We endeavor that people will have both access to sustainable, clean water and access to sanitation at the end of our presence in the community. We have now organized families to form digging groups for latrine construction and empower them with the tools they need.