Uganda: Pictures to Tell the Dilemma; Adah and Shakira’s Story

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Fredrick Mugira
June 24, 2011

Adah and Shakira are all girls aged below 15. They live in Kakatunda Parish in Bukinda Sub County of the mountainous district of Kabale in south western Uganda.

The two girls collect water for their families from a shallow well at least twice a day. They collect water of questionable quality from unprotected surface water source at a great distance from their homes.

Apart from deterring them from collecting sufficient quantities, it wastes their time so sometimes they have to skip school.

This problem is significantly worse during the dry season, when the water table drops, and rivers and shallow wells dry up.

Adah and Shakira's shallow well. It is situated in Ibasyo village, Kakatunda Parish in Bukinda Sub County, about a kilometer from their homes. The water's quality is questionable and the well is unprotected.

This unprotected shallow well often collapses and fills up with soil due to soil erosion which is common in the hilly Kabale district

The girls arrive at the well; they weigh in the mind with thoroughness and care. Do we collect the water or leave it. They also know its quality is questionable.

All the dirt from the hills usually flows into this well. Surprisingly some people in this village do not know that something is wrong. After all, their grandparents had been drinking from these wells and they survived.

Take it or leave it. The girls risk and collect the water. After all they have no option.

It is such unsafe water that kills. In his message to the world during the 2010 World Water Day, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented that unsafe water kills more people than war plus all other forms of violence combined.

Adah takes home, the water she collected. She is not bothered about the quality of the water she is carrying

Like Adah, many children in Uganda spend hours each day collecting water instead of going to school.

Shakirah carries home the water. She used this water to wash her family’s plates and saucepans

Instead of going to schools, millions of children in rural parts of Uganda spend almost half a day collecting water for their families. Others spend weeks at home suffering from unsafe water-related illness or attending to their parents suffering from unsafe water- related illnesses.

Extension of safe water to such homes would help these children study uninterruptedly, live healthy and became prosperous in future.

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