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Rain water harvesting could save Koboko

By Vision Reporter

Added 3rd February 2009 03:00 AM

OVER 40,000 residents of Koboko, a vibrant transit town in north West Nile cannot access one of the basic needs of life – water. Both the rural and urban population in the district depend on protected springs and boreholes, which only cover 25% of the a

OVER 40,000 residents of Koboko, a vibrant transit town in north West Nile cannot access one of the basic needs of life – water. Both the rural and urban population in the district depend on protected springs and boreholes, which only cover 25% of the a

By Frank Mugabi

OVER 40,000 residents of Koboko, a vibrant transit town in north West Nile cannot access one of the basic needs of life – water. Both the rural and urban population in the district depend on protected springs and boreholes, which only cover 25% of the area.

The situation is worse during the dry season. People are compelled to buy a 20-litre jerrycan of water at sh1,500 or spend several hours in queues at boreholes.

The district’s directorate of water development has made several interventions in vain.

According to the town clerk, Emmanuel Banya, most boreholes bring very little water due to the arid conditions in the area. They are also prone to breakdowns due to overusage.

Two years ago, local authorities mooted a plan to establish the first-ever motorised boreholes to ease the problem.

According to Banya, the idea involved constructing a central reservoir with a pipe system to supply water to kiosks dotted around the town. This would cost about sh270m. The district sought assistance from the Japanese Embassy in Kampala, but due to bureaucracy, the project has not taken off.

In the meantime, a presidential order to have an emergency water plan for the town is being implemented by the water ministry.

Though the community and the district have high expectations, it is not clear when the system will be operational and whether it will be sufficient to serve the expanding populace of Koboko. However, in the absence of pipe water and wells, water harvesting can be a complementary solution.

Catchment systems include roofs and gutters that direct the rain water into a storage unit.

With an average rainfall of 1,400mm and an increasing amount of permanent buildings, Koboko has a high potential for harvesting rain water. Regrettably, while building a permanent house, most of the owners exclude a rain harvest system in the construction and leave no or very little space for a storage tank.

According to the Uganda Rainwater Association the Netherlands Development Agency, there are four major reasons why rain harvesting is not widespread in Uganda; lack of awareness and attitude, financial constraints, house planning and lack of skilled labour.

A stronger initiative to promote rain water harvesting could be applied through regulations and by-laws. In Bermuda and US Virgin Islands, the law requires that a new house must include rainwater harvesting points. A similar law could be enacted in Uganda to promote a reliable water supply.

Rain water harvesting could save Koboko

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