Rainwater Harvesting

In 2017 there was a severe drought in parts of Uganda and many of the community groups realised the importance of rainwater harvesting and asked UWCM for advice.  As Trustees of Uganda Concern UK, we decided that we would like to support a rainwater harvesting project – especially as this is a community led initiative.

The World Health Organisation specifies that 50 litres of water per person are required every day for basic sanitation, and 75 litres are needed if household members are to be fully protected against disease. But in rural areas most Africans use, on average, only 30-40 litres of water, and in the remotest areas as little as 4 litres per day.

In comparison, every person in the UK uses on average 142 litres of water each day (Energy Saving Trust).

UWCM work in very remote and rural communities where households do not have running water and although there are some water taps/pumps, many rely on the local river or stream for their water supply. A simple step such as installing a rainwater harvesting tank would enable families to have access to their own supply of water throughout the year and would reduce the amount of time spent each day on fetching water from the nearest source, as well as improving basic health and sanitation.

The Trustees of Uganda Concern UK (UCUK) commissioned Uganda Water Project (UWP)  to undertake a feasibility study of the communities in the Bulambuli District of Eastern Uganda to find out whether it would be advisable to install community or individual tanks. At present, the primary water supply for households in this region is a lake or river which is also used daily by animals. UWP raised the following environmental concerns associated with the conditions surrounding this facility: steep slope; dense vegetation; sexual harassment, assault or rape; mugging or other crime; algae/animal faeces

They concluded that due to the hilly terrain and the fact that the houses are widely dispersed it would be preferable for each household to have their own water tank (minimum 1000L).

At present, UWCM support 11 groups in the Bulambuli area each with 30 members ie 330 households who would benefit from having individual rainwater harvesting tanks. Uganda Concern UK are committed to raising funds to buy 1000L tanks for as many of these households as possible and the Trustees have been working closely with staff from UWCM and community leaders to ensure that communities take ownership of this project and do not simply rely on donors to provide all the resources.

Community leaders met with UWCM and agreed that anyone who receives a tank shall be required to cover the cost of providing the gutters, pipework and concrete base and would receive training on general maintenance and repair of the tanks. It was also agreed that if a member wanted a larger tank that they could pay the difference.

We are delighted that Kenn Road Methodist Church in Clevedon have chosen to support this project for one year starting in September 2019.   Graham Roberts, a member of Kenn Road, will be joining a small group going out to Uganda in January 2020 who will visit the communities and see for themselves just what a difference these tanks are having on the lives of those concerned.

See below for feedback from the communities following the initial pilot scheme:

“The 1000L water tank given to Soti cluster chairperson has become a saviour to the whole community as far as water is concerned. Thanks be to God because it rained almost every day and so there was a continuous supply of clean water for the people in the community.

If there would be more water tanks, it can help reduce the rate of school drop outs because most of them fail to attend school because they have to go and fetch water, moreover, from a very far place or long distance.”

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