PAKWACH, September 7, 2023 – Families in the cholera-prone villages of Okuma, Chakali and others in Nyakumba parish, Ragem Sub-county in Pakwach district are jubilating after the launch of a tap water project courtesy of African Water Solutions [AWS], a charity providing millions in Africa with safe water.
According to the leaders, Okuma and Chakali villages are cholera-prone due to poor hygiene and sanitation associated with open defecation in the fields, forests, bushes, water bodies, or other open spaces.
However, the beneficiaries will now be able to use clean water for drinking, cooking, and washing household utensils and clothes, thanks to AWS which supported Pakwach District Local Government in installing the tap water system for the locals.
Speaking at the commissioning of the project days ago, the assistant water officer Pakwach district, Geoffrey Abara said access to safe and clean water will now prevent the persistent outbreaks of water-borne diseases like cholera diarrhea, dysentery, and typhoid fever.
Abara added many families in Okuma village had limited access to clean water before AWS came in to help, with the only available water sources being open shallow wells and the nearby River Nile.
“The communities have reasons to celebrate this water project because families now don’t have to walk long distances in search of water, moreover from contaminated sources,” Abara said.
Pakwach district has an estimated population of 211,500 people, but only 122,500 have access to clean and safe water. The Safe and clean water coverage in the district stands at 62 percent, leaving the population of 36.7 percent in the district.
The chief administrative officer, Moses Ondyemoli urged the village health teams [VHTs] in the district to sensitise locals on ensuring good hygiene and sanitation.
He said women and girls are the most vulnerable when there is a scarcity of water, adding that they sometimes face risks such as rape as they search for water. He urged government to increase funding for safe and clean water.
“We want to turn cholera-prone villages of Okuma into model communities and form village sanitation committees to monitor the hygiene of the communities,” Ondyemoli said.
He said over 100 households in Okuma village are ready to benefit from the Shs 700 million tap water project and that the same project would be extended to neighbouring villages.
According to officials, each household will deposit Shs 3000 monthly to the community bank account for routine maintenance.
“We are here to improve the hygiene and sanitation of the communities by sensitising the community members to adopt the sanitation packages and also protect water sources to avoid being attacked by waterborne diseases like cholera,” said Colleens Pimer, the AWS programme facilitator for West Nile region.
Nelson Kitaga, one of the residents in the area expressed excitement about the water project, saying it has saved him from riding a bicycle for long distances in search of water, adding that some people were selling a jerrycan of water at Shs 2,000, which most households couldn’t afford.
“Our communities are relieved from the water burden they experienced for decades and we really thank God who brought us the piped water because our production was greatly affected,” Kitaga added.
Gloria Owachi, a mother of five children and a resident of Alicako village said some girls in the village had dropped out of school to fetch water for their families.
The Pakwach district LCV Chairperson, Steen Omito Robert hailed the development partners such as AWS for financing water and sanitation projects in the district.
Omito was optimistic that the tap water system in Ragem Sub-county would restore hope in communities after some members in 2019 died due to a cholera outbreak.
“We shall engage the VHTs to start door-to-door health campaigns to ensure households have the recommended sanitation packages that can prevent outbreak of water-borne diseases,” Omito said.
One of the staff at Ragem Health Centre II in Ragem Sub-county, Mary Akecha Korobu welcomed the water project, saying there where many cases of typhoid fever, diarrhea, and skin diseases related to contaminated water sources the communities were using.
Now since we have water available within the facility and communities, I am very sure the situation will change and the communities must be sensitised to use clean water containers to avoid catching waterborne diseases,” Akecha said.
Buy your copy of thecooperator magazine from one of our country-wide vending points or an e-copy on emag.thecooperator.news