A staggering 784 million people on this earth live without clean water. As we mark World Water Day, a rural community in Uganda is celebrating having getting access to safe water for the first time thanks to help from former Minister and Kerry football legend, Jimmy Deenihan, and friends
How access to clean safe water is reducing diseases in a rural village in eastern Uganda.
Water is life. And in Nyaminyagwe village, Bugiri District in eastern Uganda, 434 locals are rejoicing.
For years they had to make a daily two-hour trip to the nearest borehole to collect clean water. But often, instead of making that trek, they resorted to drawing contaminated and disease-borne water from nearby shallow wells, impacting on the health of families, especially young children.
But today they community is celebrating the commissioning of a new borehole in their village which is providing fresh, clean water. The new borehole was constructed by GOAL Uganda with funds raised by GOAL board member and former Minister, Jimmy Deenihan, and friends in Ireland.
“Until now we had to get water from shallow wells for use in our homes. The wells are contaminated with worms. Children and adults often fell sick,” says Francis Etiang, Chairman of the local Water User Committee.
World Water Day
Coinciding with World Water Day, (Monday March 22nd), the community is celebrating the commissioning of a new borehole in their village which is providing fresh, clean water, and keeping the 434 locals safe, especially during this time of Covid-19.
According to Mr Deenihan: “I was shocked when I visited Nyaminyagwe and saw that families had to walk two hours a day to access safe drinking water. Too often instead of making this journey they resorted to drawing contaminated water from local water wells which led to cases of typhoid, diarrhea and cholera.”
“Safe drinking water is something we can all too often take for granted in Ireland. Access to safe drinking water is a basic human right, so I decided I had to do something to help address this problem.”
Mr Deenihan undertook a Mount Everest Base Camp trek to raise funds. He trained for six months for the 5,380 metre expedition which he did with fellow Kerry natives Carly Horan, Claire Trant and Blondie Horan.
The cost of building the new borehole was €6,900. “It is incredible to think that this relatively small investment will transform hundreds of lives,” said Mr Deenihan.
According to Francis the Water User Committee will oversee the maintenance and cleaning of the borehole. Each household will contribute 25 cent (Euro) per month towards the upkeep.
“I was elected to lead the water committee for this borehole. Our primary role is to enact by-laws that ensure the borehole is kept in good condition and clean,” Francis says.
Two people are selected from the houses each week to ensure the borehole is kept as clean as possible. The borehole also has a soak pit that is covered to avoid digging by animals that would make the area muddy and dirty.
Access to clean, safe water has helped the community improve hygiene and sanitation, something made difficult due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Having a water point closer to their homes makes it possible for the community to reduce the risk of water borne disease,and contributes to healthier lives.
Now when community members meet to discuss hygiene issues, they also talk about how to improve sanitation at household level. Both are necessary to end the scourge of water borne diseases in the area.
GOAL is implementing sustainable WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) practice in Bugiri and Namayingo Districts in Eastern Uganda. This is promote access to clean and safe water for vulnerable communities in these rural parts of the country.
In 2020 GOAL Uganda constructed 119 new water boreholes, rehabilitated 32 and installed six community tap stands.