Despite great improvements in access to safe water and sanitation in Uganda over the past 10 years (64% coverage in rural areas; 70% in urban areas), there are still many communities that rely on contaminated sources for their daily water needs, including streams and open wells that have been exposed to dangerous chemicals and livestock interference. Even water collected from sources thought to be safer, such as bore holes and harvested rainwater, is usually contaminated during the collection, transportation or storage stage.
The lack of education and awareness of proper sanitation and hygiene techniques further compounds the impact of dirty water on Uganda's population; it is estimated that less than a third of the population wash their hands with soap after latrine usage, and more than 14,000 Ugandan children die every year from diarrhoea.
Water School Uganda (WSU) works with education, healthcare and water provision partners in government and local communities to empower people to access safe drinking water for life using Solar Disinfection System (SODIS) water treatment technology.
The organisation helps to construct more resilient home compounds and sanitation facilities, including clean pit latrines, compost heaps and 'Tippy Taps' — structures that encourage sanitary hand-washing. It also provides an education programme for children, families and the wider community on proper hygiene practices in order to improve the health and wellbeing of the local community.
Since March 2010, Water School Uganda has installed more than 2,500 'Tippy Taps' and constructed more than 1,000 pit latrines at household level, increasing latrine coverage from 63% to 78% across eight counties in the Busia district.
There has been a dramatic reduction in dysentery and diarrhoea cases amongst schoolchildren in the communities where WSU have made WASH interventions, and school attendance has increased an average of 17%. Busia's Masafu Hospital has also noted a roughly 50% drop in cases of dysentery, typhoid diarrhoea and skin rashes amongst communities being served by WSU programmes.
Photos: Jimmy Adriko / Majority World