July 2012 Archives

Looking Back: The African Well Fund in Uganda, 2006

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To celebrate a million dollars raised, we're taking the opportunity to look back at the projects which your donations have made possible. To begin, a project AWF undertook in Uganda in 2006.

Once called "The Pearl of Africa" by Winston Churchill for its magnificent landscapes, Uganda has seen its share of changes over its long history. Since independence, it has at times been subject to immense upheaval, from the regimes of Amin and Obote to the terror wrought by Joseph Kony and the LRA throughout its northern regions. Contemporary Uganda has made great strides over the last 25 years. It has had the single-most-effective response of any African country to the HIV crisis, bringing infection rates from 30 percent in the 1980s to 6.4 percent in 2008. Poverty has been reduced from 56 percent of the population in 1992 to 31 percent in 2005. And while the price of coffee (Uganda's biggest export) has dropped dramatically, the country still posted 7 percent growth in 2008, despite the global recession.

Despite these great strides, many in Uganda, particularly in rural Uganda, home to approximately 85 percent of the population, still lack access to clean, safe drinking water. Women and children are particularly affected. While over 90 percent of rural women work in agriculture, they're also largely responsible for all domestic tasks, leading to average workdays of 15 hours or more. Having to walk many kilometers for water not only adds to the time each woman must spend working in a day, but also reduces the amount of time she has to participate in other small-scale economic activities such as breeding and raising livestock.

With this project, the African Well Fund and partner Africare sought to construct and reinstall 15 water wells to serve community members in the Ntungamo District.

Africare has enjoyed great success in the Ntungamo District before, increasing water access in some sub-counties from as little as 14 percent to 75 percent. These new wells were designed to join 31 other water sources already created with funding from AWF that serve 12,400 community members, some of which were toured by AWF board members in 2006.

An AWF well in Orwina, Ntungamo district, Uganda, 2006.

Building new water sources is done in close partnership with the communities served. These communities provide the land required for projects, as well as labor and whatever materials are provided locally. In addition, they house and feed project masons. Africare supplies skilled masons and supervisors, as well as sourcing materials not available locally.

Once funds were raised, Africare was able to mobilize local communities, securing volunteers to start excavation of the wells.

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  Once their well was not functional, children depended on gulley water. The water was shared with animals and when it rained, the contaminated run-off was washed into the gulley. 

An Africare water mason inspects abandoned water well that was later rehabilitated.

On the left, two water user committee members assist an Africare water mason and Jacob, a Peace Corps Volunteer hosted by Africare, to install a pump. In the process, they learn how to repair minor faults.

As the wells are constructed, community members are trained in proper sanitation techniques. In addition, Water User Groups, comprised of four women, four men and a supervisor, are established and tasked with the upkeep and operation of each waterpoint. Each Water User Group is equipped to keep the well operational. Further, small income-generating activities such as fish farms and vegetable gardens are established at the wells, allowing communities to supplement the income of well-keepers.

  uganda-garden.jpgA community vegetable garden photographed by AWF on our 2006 trip to Uganda.

The 15 new water points were completed in 2007 and are serving 6,000 community members in the Ntungamo District.

To learn more about this project, read the complete reports here.

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This page is an archive of entries from July 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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