A glass half full: The reality

Why does Amigos care so much about water? Here’s 7 reasons to kick off with…

Contamination: Many people in Uganda drink from water sources which are shared with animals, or are used for washing cars. To access clean water people frequently have to walk around two kilometres and queue for an hour or more.

Disease: 75% of diseases in Uganda are caused by a lack of clean water and proper sanitation. In Africa as a whole, 2000 children die of diarrhoea every day caused by drinking dirty water. Diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation kill more children every year than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

HIV: 67% of the world’s HIV population live in Africa. People with immune systems weakened by HIV are particularly vulnerable when they don’t have clean water. A study in rural Uganda found that when people living with HIV had access to safe water they experienced 25% fewer episodes of diarrhoea.

Dehydration: In Uganda children can spend a whole day at school without a drink. The implications of this are huge as dehydration affects brainpower – and just at a time when kids are meant to be learning. Statistically, a loss of 2% of body fluids causes 20% reduction in performance in both physical and mental activities in children.

Physical danger: Children often spend their evenings walking long distances, unsupervised, to collect water, finding themselves at risk of attack, including rape.

Development: Women also spend precious hours collecting water when they could be using their time for essential financial gain. Girls often get to school late in the morning because they are busy collecting water, and they often don’t have time to do homework in the evening for the same reason. Access to water underpins personal, family and national development.

Deforestation: Firewood is used to boil water to reduce impurities. Chopping trees for firewood is leading to long-term environmental degradation in Uganda and the pace of deforestation and population growth is such that experts predict that within 25 years supplies of firewood will have largely run out.

Clean Water = Better Grades

Amigos built a rainwater harvesting tank at St Jude’s Primary and Nursery School in Magigye (see below).

The borehole, where the children used to fetch water from was 1km away. ‘We could never collect enough water,’ explains teacher Dennis Oola. ‘The children would have to spend time fetching water when they should have been in lessons, as well as collecting water before and after school. The water from the borehole wasn’t clean and would cause stomach problems - around ten children a year would be hospitalised with typhoid.’

Today one day’s rain equals a week's worth of water with the harvesting tank.

The benefits?

  • The children are healthier and attendance at school has improved. Before the tank 140 children used to come to school, now 180 turn up every day.
  • The children don’t have to miss lessons to collect water
  • Before the tank the kids would drink half a cup of water a day, now they can have more than 2 cups of water a day.

‘As I teacher I notice that they are very active now, they pay more attention and they can concentrate better,’ says Dennis. ‘Before we had the tank only a handful of children in my class could concentrate, the rest were dull and lethargic from dehydration. Now the whole class is concentrating and performing better in tests. The top students used to get 60% in their exams, now they’re getting 70-80%.’

This is a picture of a Ugandan man with many children smiling in front of a water jar

Saved From Rape

Recently Mr Ntege’s household were given a rainwater harvest tank, via Amigos, from funds provided by Wilmslow Wells for Africa. Most would assume the main benefit of a tank would be access to plentiful, clean, drinking water, but for the Ntege family the tank also provides safety and security.

Before the tank was built the children would have to walk two kilometres every day to fetch water, unsupervised, as both parents were working. Nalyamagonja village, where the nearest tap lies, is known for serious crime, such as rape. However the children had no choice but to go, without water they wouldn't be able to prepare dinner or wash.

Mr Ntege always worried about his children who were exhausted from school and needed time to rest and do their homework, rather than go on a hike with a couple of jerry cans. He particularly worried in the evenings when it was dark.

Fortunately, Mr Ntege doesn’t need to worry anymore as students from Kira Farm recently constructed a total of ten rainwater harvest tanks for needy households.

Mr Ntege says: “My friend, you cannot put a price on this tank. To someone it might just be a rainwater harvest tank, but to me it is a huge blessing.”

This is a picture of an elderly man and two young children stood beside the water jar that has been built outside their home
 

A Rainwater Harvesting Tank costs £250. If you would like to donate one, we will install it! Find out more here or email info@amigos.org.uk or call 01271 377664

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