Uganda: Over 930 Families Exchange Labour for Water.

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Nelson Kukundakwe
April 23, 2014

Close to 1000 residents of Bunusya in Kakiika Sub County, Mbarara district of southwestern Uganda are choosing to work communally to extend water to their communities after being hit by severe water shortage.

Over 930 families with a population of about 9200 have been affected by this water shortage.

Children in Bunusya in Kakiika Sub County, Mbarara district of southwestern Uganda fetch water from a swamp
Children in Bunusya in Kakiika Sub County, Mbarara district of southwestern Uganda fetch water from a swamp

The decision by the residents to volunteer their labor was unanimously reached at in a community meeting that was held at Bunusya cell.

It follows an official letter that was received from the water and environment minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu. In the letter, the minister was responding to the demands the local people had submitted in 2010 petitioning for a clean gravity water scheme.

Now, the residents are to give in a helping hand in digging pavements for underground water pipes that will cover a 6km distance from Koranorya to Bunusya and Kamurangire.

Godfrey Baryomunsi, the Vice chairperson Mbarara district says the work is projected to take 3 months maximum.

Speaking during the meeting, the residents expressed relief over the given support. “Since 1961, I have suffered water shortage and I had wanted electricity but I have gotten none” said George Kasigaire an elder in the village further stressing that “since this has come up and it’s a social need, we have to pay any price so as to seize it.”

Another resident, Immaculate Katushabe laments the burden they go through in trying to raise the family without water. She pleads to men for quick intervention.

“Men please, kindly come to our rescue by giving in your labor at will. It costs us 2 to 3 hours to get a Jerrycan of water that is even too dirty,” note Katushabe.

Residents in Bunusya and Rwemigina up to now depend on seasonal rain water and resort to swamp water when ponds deplete during a dry spells.

“This swamp never dries up at least but on top of our children who move more than 2km for water, we also fear for our health because this water is contaminated, all exhausts from Mbarara municipality and uphill collect here” says Stephen Muhumuza a resident.

A girl child returns from collecting water in a shallow well in western Uganda.
A girl child returns from collecting water in a shallow well in western Uganda.

Muhumuza notes that three children have so far drowned in the swamp in a period of two year.

Considering the geographical terrain, all the two parishes of Bunusya and Kamurangire with their 11 villages lie in the valley and the Akashengye swamp is the only existing catchment swamp.

The chairperson Kakiika sub county Benon Muganga says the scheme will not compensate anyone whose property such as land will be encroached on.

“We expect residents to lend us their land out of free will because this came in as an offer that is to our benefit,” he says.

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