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Water wells still crucial in urban areas

By Vision Reporter

Added 28th October 2008 03:00 AM

THE long line of jerrycans told the desperate story. The old and young jostled in the line, slowly following their containers as they moved towards the water pipe which never stopped flowing. This line was not on a water well many miles out of the city.

THE long line of jerrycans told the desperate story. The old and young jostled in the line, slowly following their containers as they moved towards the water pipe which never stopped flowing. This line was not on a water well many miles out of the city.

By Joshua Kato

THE long line of jerrycans told the desperate story. The old and young jostled in the line, slowly following their containers as they moved towards the water pipe which never stopped flowing. This line was not on a water well many miles out of the city.

It was in Luzira, in Nakawa division. For over 24 hours, National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) taps had gone dry. The company had issued a warning and an apology, that there would be scarcity of water owing to repair or a mechanical failure.

Whenever the NWSC taps run dry, residents in many parts of the city ‘remember’ the community well. However, as long as the taps are running, nobody gives these pipes a second look. Yet they never run dry.
According to the Human Development Report, 2007, water coverage in Kampala averages 75%.
Most of this comes from NWSC pipes. However whenever NWSC pipes get a problem, there are very few alternative sources.

This remains a challenge even though Uganda held the Water and Sanitation Expo from the 13th–15th of this month. The expo was organised by the Netherlands Development Organisation and the Ministry of Water and Environment.

In September, long queues were seen at the only protected well in the lakeside town of Luzira. A 20-litre jerrycan of water rose cost sh1,000. The well served about 20,000 people. “We should stop depending only on the NWSC taps. Money should be invested in more wells,” advised Paul Kitaka, a community leader in Luzira.

In Komamboga, Kawempe Division, there is a protected community well near Universal Girls High School. This was constructed over 19 years ago.

Until then, it was part of a stream, from which residents got water. However, it was turned into a protected stream, after a concrete slab was constructed with a pipe protruding from it. The well serves Komamboga, parts of Kisaasi and Kanyanya.

Slums across the city also have numerous wells constructed under programmes like the Kampala Integrated Environment Management Programme and the Kampala Urban Sanitation Project. “We need more because these few are not enough,” says councillor Juma Bbosa Sserunkuma of Kisenyi Two parish.

Mukono is only 10 miles from Kampala. The town of around 25,000 people depends on three protected wells.

A jerrycan of water costs between sh500-700. “While we await water from the NWSC, we request that more of these wells are constructed,” says Sam Mutyaba, a resident of Nabuti. Mukono town Mayor Johnson Muyanja Ssenyonga says the Town Council plans to construct more.

Unfortunately, there is little maintenance of existing community wells. Muhamed Mpanga, who has spearheaded the maintenance of two unprotected wells in the Kisasasi-Kanyanya areas says although residents rush to these wells whenever the taps run dry, very few take part in their cleaning.

“People only realise the importance of these wells when their taps run dry. Then they rush to the wells to line up for water, but when you invite them to come and clear the bushes around the wells, they do not appear,” he says.

Community leaders claim that they do not have the funds to protect some of the streams running through their villages yet it is not very expensive.

For instance, they need about 100 bricks which cost shl0,000, two one-meter pipes that cost less than shl0,000, at least two bags of cement to build the concrete and labour of about sh50,000. Shl5O,000 can put up a protected well.

“If we were receiving our 25% share of revenue, we would certainly use it to protect that well. I have never taken any consideration of it,” says Bernard Walusimbi, LC 1 chairman, Kanisa zone.

Water wells still crucial in urban areas

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