Safe Water Sources
Providing people with clean water looks different in each community. Primarily we work with communities to install hand dug wells, but in some cases drilled borewells, capped springs, or rainwater catchment tanks are more suitable.
Our team select communities to work with based on needs assessments. Communities and engineers then decide where to locate their water source and are required to contribute towards the work and ongoing maintenance. This engenders a sense of ownership and investment in ongoing maintenance.
Communities elect their own Water User Committee, and we train this group in water source management, bookkeeping, and conflict resolution, and we ensure they have a reserve fund to meet the costs of preventative maintenance. Through this we empower community members to manage local problems using local solutions.
When we work in a community we are committed to the long term with each source added to our rolling monitoring schedule. The greatest testament to this approach is that our very first source, constructed in 1984, is still pumping safe water 34 years later.
Effective water source management is a huge problem in Uganda with 24% of handpumps broken down.
The traditional approach to water source provision has been for governments and NGOs to construct water sources, train the local community to manage them, and then leave, often with little accountability for the ongoing success of the source. This system often falls short, with factors such as the break-down of local management groups, or the inability of communities to raise repair funds, meaning thousands of communities have to revert to using unsafe water sources.
Busoga Trust aims to raise the bar for what is achievable in sustainable rural water management in Uganda. We have implemented an innovative project which aims to rehabilitate water sources, constructed by any actor, and incorporate them into a new management structure called ‘Payment-By-Results’.
Payments-By-Results is developing a new class of professionals who make their living by ensuring water sources perform well 24/7. Hand-Pump-Mechanics are assigned a cluster and are paid monthly by the communities, provided they carry out regular preventative maintenance, maintain hygiene standards in communities, and eliminate breakdown time.
Such preventative maintenance means communities can safeguard their water sources against large unaffordable breakages and any problems can be swiftly dealt with. Such an approach has demonstrated over 98% water source reliability.
A more reliable safe water source, means less exposure to water related sickness, and a healthier more productive community. Though currently modestly subsidised by Busoga Trust, the aim is that as confidence in the system builds, communities will increasingly develop a sustainable habit of paying for water, overtime removing the need for Busoga Trust’s support completely.
In 2015, with the support of The Waterloo Foundation, we introduced the Outrider programme, which monitors the functionality of rural water sources that have been installed or rehabilitated by Busoga Trust over the past 35 years. This enables us to keep up to date information about functionality, local Hand Pump Mechanics, and the presence of Water User Committees. Data is also collected on hygiene and sanitation practices in the communities.
Data collected by the Outriders shows a very strong correlation between water source functionality and the presence of an active Water User Committee. This highlights the importance of community based management and the continual training of these committees so that they are in a better position to look after their water source long term.
The Outriders work holistically with communities to assist with rehabilitations and to help re-elect and re-train Water User Committees where necessary, mobilising them to collect money for ongoing maintenance. They also work to reinforce hygiene and sanitation behavioural change.
Ongoing monitoring of our water sources is a key part of achieving our goal of 100% functionality.