By William Elijah | Kyangwali News Staff Writer
The menace of insufficient supply of water in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement has been addressed by the concerned agencies operating in this area, one of the most prominent being the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in the recent years. The drilling of more than two boreholes in many of the villages within the settlement solved a lot of challenges which included the distance from a water source, students missing classes leading to increased school dropout, uncountable snake bites in swampy areas and other related problems that used to be faced in the collection of water.
As per now, residents block 81 in Mukarange village are facing a severe lack of clean water supply, the reason being that the borehole that was drilled for them is no longer functioning, raising concerns of an outbreak of water-related problems which existed before as explained by Mr. Kalevuro, the Refugee Welfare Council I (RWC I) of this block, “Our children and
women are being forced to move long distances in search of clean water for
drinking. The water from swamps is mostly used for other domestic needs, and drinking water only obtained from boreholes, this is the only alternative,” Mr. Kalevuro lamented.
More so, the residents who are moving long distances looking for water,
sometimes end up reporting home late at night which puts their life in
danger especially the young girls and women. The families in most cases strictly enforce gender roles and that means the work of fetching water for the household is considered the role of mothers and girls but they aren’t safe at all because they stand a high risk of facing gender related criminal behavior by night time male predators roaming around in late hours. The husbands may also accuse their wives of having affairs with other men that could risk marriages breaking up as one woman put it, “When we reach home in late evenings, our husbands start to falsely accuse us of cheating on them which results into quarrels and threats and fights in our homes,” she spoke in a state of anonymity.
As relates to the guidelines set up by Uganda's Ministry of Health, and also the presidential
directives, these residents are finding it next to impossible to follow them up as
instructed. This is because the Curfew starts at 9:00pm, always finding
some women, children and smaller number of men still at boreholes and others
on their way home. In addition to being caught up in a curfew, of social distancing is a nightmare, clearly not observed by these water-seekers who crowd around the boreholes , each competitively struggling to fetch first and leaving so as not to be caught up in a curfew whipping. “Some of us do not even think of corona virus especially when we are pushing and colliding with each other in struggle for water in the evening", Mugisha Sibomana, a resident of Mukarange said adding, "we can be so many.”
This problem is also likely creating room for the spread of water shortage related diseases
such as diarrhea, dysentery and even cholera since some members have resorted
to drinking unboiled swamp water, same water, their livestock take too. To avoid drinking water from these dirty swamps, some residents have become very economical with water,
forced to take little or no water (clean water from boreholes) due to its
scarcity. Some experts have warned that avoiding water or taking it in small amounts risks dehydrating individuals causing more health hazards.
This is a challenge here, and there is no way the residents can solve it themselves without support from local Non Governmental Organizations. While speaking to the affected by water shortage in Mukarange, many residents told our reporter, William E. they are asking for support from LWF and other partners, suggesting that these boreholes have to be fixed as soon as possible. Water is an essential part of our health, it is a priority.