How one village has transformed its water supply

Thursday 4 July 2019

Children in Kyarugomoka collect clean safe water from their new supply

Children in Kyarugomoka village used to only have one source of water – the River Kitakena. Most drank directly from the river, putting them at risk of disease.  

Now the community has taken action to change this.

Kyarugomoka is now one of 52 villages benefiting from Save the Children’s disaster response and climate change project in western Uganda's Kasese district. The project helped establish Village Disaster Management Committees (VDMCs) in each village, selected by the community themselves. The committees identify and map existing and potential hazards in their communities, conduct a vulnerability and capacity assessment, and then put in place an action plan to improve the village’s ability to protect itself and respond to disasters.

In Kyarugomoka the committee identified the lack of safe water as one of the major hazards, resulting in outbreaks of deadly water-borne diseases like typhoid, diarrhoea, bilharzia. It was a major risk for the 120 households and nearly 500 children in the village.

The committee set about raising awareness in the community about the dangers of using unsafe water, and the possible solutions.

They then set up a fundraising drive within the village, to raise money to provide safe piped water. Between them, they raised 2.48 million shillings (approx. $670). With this they were able to buy six water pipes, four connectors and one tap stand.

They then advocated to water providers in the region to get the village connected to the piped water supply. Soon they managed to connect to the water supply in nearby Maliba trading centre.  

These kind of issues used to be left to government or NGOs to deal with. But with a helping hand the community has now taken the lead. As a result, nearly 500 children are healthier and now have access to safe clean water.

The VDMC approach and community ownership “leads to lasting change for children both in the short and long term,” says Vian Musika, Save the Children’s programme manager. This was recently recognised by Honourable Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, who announced that the government is considering using the VDMCs in Kasese as a model to expand to the rest of the country.

For the committee themselves it’s been a big success. “We are proud that we now have safe water in homes. It is no longer a dream, it is reality,” says the chairperson, Muserero Jackson.

But this is just the start, says the chair of the Local Council: “We would like to connect nine more taps and increase quality water access to more than 300 households in Buzibwera, Maliba 1 and Kyarukungu villages. We will continue to engage and where necessary ask for more support. We believe it is possible and it can be done. You see before this project, such issues were left to government or other organisations to deal with. That was our attitude. Not now - we are solution oriented.”

This project is made possible thanks to funding from the Japanese government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Save the Children Japan

Children from Kyarugomoka used to collect water from the river, putting them at risk of disease