Reasons for unsustainable water and sanitation projects
Publish Date: Jan 08, 2014
  • mail
  • img

By Simon J. Mone

A lot of news sources have on many occasions published information about user communities fetching water from unclean and unsafe water points and communities littering bushes with human waste.

Other sources have gone ahead to reveal that communities share water points with domestic animals.

On my many travels to the countryside, I often see water access points that are not operational. With the looming prolonged dry spells ahead, one would expect water points to be serviceable during the January to March period when the dry conditions severely affects not only humans but also livestock.

Continued break down of water pumps and drying up of wells and springs leaves a lot to be desired. During the dry season, lack of water has usually forced communities to seek unsafe water sources. Sections of communities have often ignored sanitary facilities provided through the various government and non-governmental organisation interventions.

This has attracted questions whose answers can be provided through a careful analysis of the socio-cultural make-up of the different communities, their environment and traditional norms. In trying to answer such questions, it is also pertinent to incorporate the definition of “sustainability” of such project interventions.

Sustainability should be a deliberate process with the intention of providing reliable services over a period of time and this should be characterised by the following factors.

The first one being coverage of intended projects. We need to answer the question of how easy it is for communities to access water and sanitation facilities that are provided for them. Facilities should be equally located within the user population.

Secondly there has got to be continuity of service provision. It ensures that the tendency of people resorting to the old practices of accessing contaminated water sources is stopped.

It is the common case in Uganda’s rural communities where broken down hand pumps leaves user communities with no option but to access water from contaminated sources. If hand pumps are unserviceable, there should be a process to have them repaired as quickly as possible.

This is where members of the user community should be empowered with the necessary skills to repair unserviceable pumps.

Thirdly for a water supply project, there should be adequate quantity for the population. This reduces the time and effort that many people take in colleting water. Instead it increases the effort in the other productive areas of their lives.

It also allows that school going members of rural communities spend more time in the classroom and less in walking for long distances to look for water. The forth factor is the quality of services provided. Water quality is critical in its acceptance by the user community.

Should the user community find that water from a given source taste different from what they have been accessing initially, most likely that source will be abandoned.

The fifth factor is the cost of providing these projects as well as the cost of maintenance. This goes a long way in ensuring whether or not projects are successful and sustainable. Lastly, there should be a sense of ownership of these interventions.

Communities should be involved right from the initial phases of the project because their participation provides essential inputs that would have otherwise been omitted by not involving them.

Implemented projects should be in agreement with the socio-economic and gender aggregation aspects of user communities. Unless these factors are taken into account and duly implemented, there shall be many more unsuccessful and unsustainable interventions.
The writer is a civil engineer

P. O. Box 36045, Kampala, Uganda, Mobile: 0772 676174
E-mail: smone@mail.com

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Celebrating Independence without Gen Aronda
This year has been another long year and a difficult one at that. Difficult in a sense that we have an important election in a couple of months from now, for which we must prepare and ensure a peaceful, free and fair election....
Sustainable development goals achievable with everyone playing a role
Last month, world leaders converged in New York and adopted the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)....
A call to protect African arts, culture and heritage for sustainable development
From April 16th till May 6th , 2013 China Federation of Literary Arts Circles (CFLAC), received 17 cultural officials and artists’ representatives from 10 English-speaking African countries, namely Sierra Leone, Zambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and Egypt...
Strategic impact assessments should not be ignored in oil development
Fear raced through Faith Kiiza’s body when she heard the news that the presidents of Kenya and Uganda had announced that they had agreed on a route for Uganda’s oil export pipeline....
Makerere should negotiate with Parents, Guardians to reduce fees strikes
This week has been horrendous. There has been student unrest at Makerere and Kyambogo Universities respectively. For Makerere, it marks another vehemently ugly tale that has come to keep haunting the University each time important steps are made in her advancement as a premier institution in the co...
Empower the girl child
Uganda will on 11th Oct join the world to commemorate the third ever International day of the girl child. The national celebration premised on the global theme “The power of the adolescent girl, Vision 2030,” is based on one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were launched on 25th Sep...
Should Makerere University fees policy be reviewed?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter