Advancing Water Accessibility in Uganda: Transformative Projects by the WRDC
The team at the Water Research and Development Center (WRDC) in Uganda has hit the ground running since we recently solidified our partnership. The first thing we’ve set out to do is determine 6 different achievable projects to carry out over the coming 6-10 months. We want to achieve early recognizable success* with each of these projects and try to ensure that these initial projects and objectives set are both reasonable and achievable for our team. The WRDC has come up with the following 6 proposed projects, all of which are very exciting, and some of these projects are already beginning to be implemented. Dr. Henry Ntale, WRDC’s coordinator, and the team put together a detailed plan for the implementation
of these projects that directly relate to first understanding, and then improving the water-accessibility issues faced by Ugandan communities.
Each project has an identified issue, goal, objectives, and outcomes. For the purpose of this article maintaining a form of brevity, here is a high-level overview of each project in no particular order of execution.
Project 1: Enhancing Access and Collaboration: The Ndejje University Water Research Database Project
Overview: Ndejje University, the second oldest private university in Uganda (est. 1992), has a history of conducting research in various water-related fields. However, there is currently no centralized database or repository that houses the university's past water-related research. This lack of a comprehensive database poses challenges for students, researchers, and policymakers who require access to relevant information and knowledge in the field of water resources. The goal of the Water Research Database Project is to create a comprehensive database of past water-related research conducted at Ndejje University. This database aims to enhance accessibility, promote interdisciplinary collaboration, and facilitate evidence-based decision-making in the field of water resources.
Project 2: Sustainable Water Solutions for Singiro: Addressing Acidity and Scaling Impact in the Region
Overview: Singiro village in Uganda's Lwengo District faces water accessibility challenges, relying on various sources including a solar pumped system, hand-dug well, pond, and stream. However, the solar pumped water's high acidity leads to negative effects like skin irritation, crop damage, and stained clothing. A research project aims to investigate the causes of acidity, propose solutions, and identify alternative safe water sources nearby. Successfully addressing the acidic water issue in Singiro could pave the way for scalable solutions benefiting the entire region comprising three districts with similar challenges. We aim to ensure this solution is duplicable for surrounding villages.
Project 3: Advancing Water Quality and Accessibility: A Comprehensive Assessment for Community Well-being
Overview: The issue at hand is that the water accessible to the populations of Bwondah and Bwembe carries a significant bacterial load, rendering it unsafe for household usage and consumption. Furthermore, the existing water sources are insufficient to safely meet the community's needs. The goal of the assessment is to enhance the water quality in these communities and increase the quantity of safe water available for both drinking and hygiene purposes.
Project 4: Enhancing Water Access and Sustainability in Ndejje Town Council: A WASH Assessment and Strategy Development
Overview: Access to safe and reliable water sources is a critical issue in Ndejje Town Council, Uganda. The Ndejje University Water Research and Development Centre (NU-WRDC) aims to understand the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) challenges specific to the town council. Through this project, NU-WRDC will assess the quality, quantity, and functionality of water sources within the council to identify existing challenges and develop strategies to improve access to safe and sustainable water sources in the local area. The goal is to conduct a comprehensive survey that informs the development of strategies to enhance water access within Ndejje Town Council.
Project 5: Empowering Women in WASH: Gender Dynamics and Equitable Access in Rural Uganda
Overview: In rural communities, women and girls disproportionately shoulder the responsibility of water collection, sanitation, and hygiene, resulting in adverse effects on their education, health, and economic empowerment. Studies indicate that in 8 out of 10 households without in-home water access, women and girls are tasked with water collection (UNICEF, 2023**). This research project seeks to examine the gender dynamics of WaSH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) access in Singiro, Bwondah, and Bwembe, with the goal of identifying obstacles and proposing interventions to promote equitable access for all community members.
Project 6: Promoting Water Accessibility in Uganda: An Undergraduate Research Fellowship Initiative
Overview: Access to safe and reliable water sources poses a significant challenge in Uganda, impacting public health and economic development, especially in rural areas. Women and girls are disproportionately affected, as they spend considerable time collecting water, hindering their education and income opportunities. To address this, a proposal suggests establishing an undergraduate thesis research fellowship program focused on improving water accessibility in Uganda. The program aims to support senior undergraduate students in conducting research and developing innovative solutions for sustainable water accessibility, with up to five students working with the WRDC during each school year.
These efforts will not be looking at short-term solutions, rather they will consider long-term, sustainable solutions to inequitable water-accessibility issues. Join us in supporting these important projects that promote the development of strategies from both the household level to the policy level.
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*‘Early Recognizable Success' is a concept from Roland Bunch's book "Two Ears of Corn: A Guide to People-Centered Agricultural Improvement." It fosters enthusiasm and participation in development work by highlighting initial achievements. These early successes provide positive psychological feedback, motivating stakeholders, both investors and community recipients alike, to keep progressing with the project or program. They inspire dedication and empower initiatives to overcome obstacles, creating lasting, transformative change.
**UNICEF. (2023). The Water Burden. UNICEF USA. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from https://www.unicefusa.org/what-unicef-does/childrens-health/water-sanitation/safe-water-projects/girls-water-burden