Health
Bukwo, where pit-latrines cost more than houses
Publish Date: Jul 10, 2014
Bukwo, where pit-latrines cost more than houses
Bukwo is a very hilly location in eastern Uganda, with some areas like the village of Rwanda sitting on rocky surfaces, making it very difficult to dig pit latrines
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Daniel Edyegu

Most Ugandans know Rwanda as a neighbouring country! But Rwanda is also a village in Sosho parish, Bukwo sub-county in Bukwo district.

The village derives its name from the Kupsabiny word “rwandet” that means rocks. And therein lies the problem. For decades, the rocky nature of Rwanda village has made the digging of pit-latrines in the area an uphill task.

Expensive venture

Moses Mashak, 41, established a home in the area in 1996. But it took him 11 years to dig a pit-latrine at his home. Even then, it was not his free will but the pressure exerted on the family by the couple’s five children who kept littering the compound with their faeces.

“In this place, just three to four feet underground lie huge rocks. At about six feet deep, the rock becomes compact. Due to this, labourers charge sh8,000 per foot to dig a pit-latrine. This is about sh2,000 more than what is charged in other areas with softer soil,” Mashak explained.

“Given our meagre earnings, it’s difficult for one to sacrifice money on a pit-latrine at the expense of basic household needs. The toilet I built is only 13 feet deep. But I had to participate in the digging, besides the hired labour, to cut the costs,” Mashak added.


A woman entering a pit-latrine in Rwanda village in Bukwo

Forced to act

Despite these hurdles, Rwanda is among the 42 villages out of 84 in Bukwo town council, Kaptererwo and Bukwo sub-counties that have been declared open defecation-free by Bukwo district. Being declared open defecation-free implies that each household in the 42 villages has a pit-latrine.

Like Mashak, circumstances forced Liniet Chemutai, a mother of seven residing in Rwanda village, to dig a pit-latrine.

“After establishing our home in 2004, we spent two years without a pit-latrine. We would help ourselves in the bushes. My husband was always out looking for money. The children became frequently sick from diarrhoeal diseases. That’s when we thought of digging a pit-latrine. That solved the problem,” Chemutai said.

According to statistics from the district health department, Bukwo town council currently tops in pit-latrine coverage, ranking at 86%. It is closely followed by Bukwo sub-county at 84% and Kaptererwo sub-county at 80%. Chepkwasta sub-county at 64.5% trails in pit-latrine coverage.

United effort

Overall pit-latrine coverage in Bukwo district stands at 67.6%. Grace Sali, the district secretary for gender, explained that to push up the coverage, political leaders, civil servants and the civil society had to unite to fight some aspects of Sabiny culture that stand in the way of proper hygiene.


But not all homes in Bukwo are struggling with toilets. Ugandan athlete Moses Kispiro has a self-contained modern house in the area.

“There is a mistaken belief in our communities that if the compound is dotted with faeces of children, it is a clear testimony that they are feeding well. And if there’s no sight of faeces on the compound, it means the parents are starving their children. We need to fight this backward thinking that exists in our communities,” Sali stressed.

Target set

Wilfred Yesho Kipsang, the Bukwo district health inspector, said the fact that only 42 villages have been declared open defecation-free out of 501 villages throughout the 12 sub-counties in the district, calls for continuous effort.

He said the Catholic Relief Services has been carrying out sanitation campaigns in the three sub-counties.

“Our target is to have the district pit-latrine coverage at 80% by the end of next year. We have already planned to go to all homes without pit-latrines and deliver final warnings before arrests are made.

"People with pit-latrines, neighbouring those without, also suffer the consequences of faeces being washed into their neighbourhood,” Yesho explained.

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
Woman plans to end her life on November 1
A newlywed US woman with terminal cancer has announced plans online to end her life on November 1 to die with dignity....
Another Ugandan doctor dies of Ebola
Another Ugandan doctor, John Taban Dada, who has been a gynaecologist and surgeon, dies of Ebola in Liberia....
African MPs discuss family planning
Uganda''s state minister for primary healthcare has said women should have children by choice and not by chance....
Hospital security guard, cleaners treat patients
AHPC officials order a special inquiry into reports that unqualified staff treat patients at Lyantonde Government Hospital....
Failing sense of smell a strong predictor of death
A declining sense of smell in older people is a strong predictor of death within just five years, according to new research....
I usually envy my Muslim friends every after Ramadhan. This is because some of them come out of the holy month weighing up to 10kg lighter and others come out without their potbellies....
Do Ugandan tycoons prepare their children to take over their business empires?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter