Water and People in rural Uganda

15 10 2010

“Safe and clean drinking water is a human right”, declares the United Nations. However, its such a shame that to many rural communities around the world, this “human right” is still a “myth”. Many communities don’t have access to safe and clean drinking water.

Personally, I have a very special interest in observing the way people access water in rural Uganda. Often I carry a digital camera, to take photos on water access.

From my observation, I have noticed that many rural areas have hardships in accessing water sources – they often have to walk more than one kilometer to find the nearest water source. Often these are swamps, lakes, rivers, streams, or even mere trickles of water. A few rural communities have access to boreholes while others have managed to dig up water wells to enable free access to water.

During my travels to several parts of Uganda, I have noticed that women and children are the ones in charge of fetching water in their homes. Often, I would see women, girls and boys in both small and big groups carrying jerrycans of water on their heads and sometimes on a bicycle.

Even though many of these communities will not complain openly, they often face hardships. Hardships range from the long-inconveniencing distances that people have to walk to access water to threats of infections from water born diseases like typhoid, dysentery and bilharzia that people are prone to due to dirty and unsafe water. Rural people live with and suffer from, but know little about these threats because they are not informed but cases of typhoid, dysentery and bilharzia are very common in rural areas and the biggest cause is drinking dirty water.

I believe our communities need more information on improved water access, their rights and health information.


Communal Water Access - Apac District, Nothern Uganda

In the cities like Kampala, the story of water access is really saddening. People have to depend on broken water pipes to access free water. Others will look for streams on the suburbs of the cities where they live because many people still live in poverty and them, clean water (which they have to pay for) would not be very helpful when they don’t even have food. Often people choose to spend more on food and improvise with water by looking for free water sources in the neighborhoods. Even though the many urban poor don’t have to walk kilometers to access free water, they are at the same risk of catching diseases from this free-unsafe water.

Now the question remains, what can the United Nations do to ensure that even the rural-poor communities of the world get improved access to clean and safe drinking water?

At the same risk of catching diseases from this openly available water– so easy to reach in the short term, yet so costly in terms of health after all.



5 responses

10 12 2010

“Now the question remains, what can the United Nations do to ensure that even the rural-poor communities of the world get improved access to clean and safe drinking water?”

Why should it be a problem for the UN to solve if the Government of Uganda doesn’t appear to be concerned about it?

25 02 2011

Tumwijuke, this indeed should NOT be a problem/ obligation of the United Nations. But we all know how much influence the UN has on governments in developing countries (like that of Uganda). And of course the Ugandan government will NOT be concerned because this seems to be a non-issue to them.
This is our (concerned citizens of the world/ Uganda) duty to lobby for the voiceless! And the UN should know that while they are trying to achieve so and so Millennium Development Goals by 2015, some governments (like that of Uganda) are making ZERO efforts. Hence my question – “Now the question remains, what can the United Nations do to ensure that even the rural-poor communities of the world get improved access to clean and safe drinking water?”

31 01 2011

This problem is a humanitarian problem and if you are a human with some compassion and it is in your power to do something you should. We have been active for 17 years to get water from the source to the home – at least alleviating the issue of carrying water. some people carry water for up to six hours a day – just to live!

25 02 2011

Shaun, your work at Hipporoller is very, VERY amazing! Its always amazing to know how creativity and innovations like “The Hippo” – drum can make life so simple for people!
Keep up your good work! And I cannot agree with you more, making clean water accessible is our duty as concerned citizens of the world. 🙂

3 10 2013
Mbabani Allan

The government of Uganda should for UN to do something.Us Ugandans can do something about clean and safe drinking water and the UN comes in later to lay a hand.

1.The government should asign some funds per FY specifically for safe&clean drinking water, which can be used to construct boreholes in rural areas.And these jobs should be awarded to indegnous drilling companies such as Triton Associates,hippo etc who will do standard work because of being part of people affected,other-than foreign companies.

2.The government has successfully had a BSC.Water resources engineering at Busitema university,and the pioneer student(3rd yrs) are about to come out.This year’s intake is the biggest (80-and 57 have reported) with private as majority.But can they graduate come 2018 with this economic crisis? Then UN should come in and spornsor these bright young engineers who can try solve the problem at hand.

I remain Mbabani Allan a student of BSC.Water resources engineering 2013/14 at Busitema university,Uganda

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