health, water and sanitation

Raindrops keep falling on my head

By Nolly Molton.

With Japan and Utah both experiencing devastating flash floods after storms this month, it’s sometimes hard to remember that there are places where the lack of rain can be equally disastrous. While it is considered one of the more fertile countries in Africa, Uganda still experiences long periods of aridity during its two annual ‘dry seasons’. Therefore, when it does rain it’s vital to make the most of it, a fact that has served as the motivation behind our rainwater harvesting program; a project involving the installation of large, sustainable tanks in homes which can then be used to safely store clean rainwater. As we prepare to enter into the second Ugandan rainy season, these drums would make an invaluable addition to many homes!

Malita is an elderly widow living in Namuhoho village, who is currently caring for 5 of her young grandchildren and her epileptic son. Nearly all the domestic duties fall to her including the daily water-run. Each morning, Malita must go and collect water to cook and clean with, however the queues at her nearest borehole mean an average wait of 4 hours every day. As you can imagine, this simply isn’t feasible for Malita who instead frequents a nearby stream which, while closer and more convenient, carries risk of contamination. Furthermore, Malita must transport all this water herself (up to several litres a trip).

You can imagine the difference it would make to families like Malita’s to have a way of storing clean water in the house. Over the last few months, Fred (this project’s coordinator in Uganda) has overseen water tank instillations in three family homes: Malita’s, Ben’s and Negohe’s (all pictured). Not only do they now have direct access to clean drinking water but our health team also provides training on how to use, maintain and store sanitary water making this a sustainable and long-lasting solution for many.

It would be fantastic to be able to explode this project across the district as it has such huge implications for health and sanitation in families. With an average cost of £150 to set up, these tanks are simple but very effective. There’s a Greek proverb that says, “Many drops make up the rain” and it’s certainly true of this project! If you feel this is something you would like to get involved in, please go to