health, water and sanitation

Miriam: The Woman at the Well

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By Nolly Molton.

Every year approximately 1,000-1,500 boreholes are drilled in Uganda. At a glance, this figure seems to be reasonably high, and the recent push by the government and certain NGOs to increase this figure even more, all seems very positive. Sadly, a vast number of boreholes have fallen into disrepair over the years (some statistics suggest that up to half the boreholes in Uganda aren’t functioning properly), a fact that is causing huge problems in the villages and communities that are dependent on them.

Each month ALBOH tries to identify one broken borehole that, with the help of the local community, we can go about mending. Our Director, Ivan, runs the project and each month he and an engineer will go out to assess the borehole before contacting the water users committee to begin the process of fixing it. With each community contributing 15% of the repair funds, we are then able to move forward in mending the damage and eventually return the borehole to working order.

As you can imagine there are many factors that can slow or impede this project. Often communities cannot raise the funds to support the work which can have a knock-on effect on the subsequent reparations. Our team has been working together with the water committees in those areas, and has recently fixed two boreholes in Mabale and Busyama.

To get a sense of the impact these repairs would have, Ivan interviewed several local members of the community who were dependent on the well. Among them was Nachuli Miriam, a resident of Busolwe central village who has always used the Busyama borehole. Ivan tells her story:

She [Miriam] told me that before their borehole got broken, they used to get water with ease and at any time, but when the borehole broke life became hard. People lacked water for preparing their food, washing was difficult and also children would sleep without bathing as an outcome.

The alternative source of water was a borehole in the neighbouring village. However, this was guarded and the people there always charged others coming from other villages for the water, or they’d chase them away.

After the borehole was fixed, she expressed great happiness. They will not suffer from being chased at boreholes, or competing with animals at the well for water. Miriam said that they would sit as a community and devise means of looking after their borehole well to make sure it doesn’t break down again. Finally she thanked a little bit of HOPE for their effort towards fixing their broken borehole. Thank you.

It’s incredibly encouraging to hear from Miriam and see the repairs from her point of view. She and all of us at a little bit of HOPE are so grateful to those of you who help make this work possible. Boreholes cost between £100 to £250 to repair so if you would like to contribute towards this project, go to alittlebitofhope.org/give. It’s a hugely encouraging and rewarding project to be part of.