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There are 125 rainwater harvesting tanks in the Luweer district of central Uganda. This is the work of a women’s group called Kikunyu Kwagala. The group’s goal is to improve both farming and hygiene.
The women are spreading the word about sanitation and hygiene amongst their members and in their communities. Each member is encouraged to have a pit latrine, a facility for hand-washing, and a pit for garbage disposal, making them role models in their community.
Agnes Namuga Mugwanya is the chairperson of Kikunyu Kwagala. She says that in the past, many people relied on valley dams for water, and shared this water source with animals. The dam water was both far away and potentially contaminated by the animals.
She explains, “You could spend between three and four hours at the dam. But that is changing because we harvest rainwater and store it, and this has been helpful, especially with farming.”
Rainwater harvesting tanks mean easier access to water for agriculture and sanitation. They also save money that the women used to spend on water treatment.
Edward Lukwago is an officer at Busoga Trust, a UK-based NGO working in Uganda. He says the success of this women’s group is a result of hard work, unity, and a willingness to learn. He adds, “They work as a group to do all the construction work for the rainwater harvesting tanks because they are trained and have mastered the art of constructing and maintaining water tanks.”
The women clean the tanks themselves and can be contracted to build water tanks for other people. They even clear the bush around their homes to eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Hygiene is vitally important, as contaminated water can cause a number of health problems, including diarrhea and cholera.
John Paul Kibalama is the chairperson for the sub-county. He says the women are role models and hopes they receive funding to expand their promotion of water harvesting.
Jane Habawanda has a rainwater tank in the area. The 54-year-old says she used to trek seven kilometres to the nearest valley dam for water. She explains, “We used to spend a lot of time walking, looking for water both for farming and home consumption. Now the water is right in our compounds.”
This story is based on an article titled, “Rural women’s group changes lives through sanitation project.” To read the full story, go to: http://www.monitor.co.ug/artsculture/Reviews/Rural-women-s-group-changes-lives-through-sanitation-projects/691232-3846674-kg3drw/index.html
Photo: Women in Luweero District. Credit: The Monitor