Water And Sanitation Hygiene (WASH)
The Caritas Kampala WASH Department aims to address water, sanitation and hygiene needs of the urban poor living in informal settlements (slums) in Kampala City with urgent and eminent needs of WASH interventions in schools, and in the urban and peri-urban communities in the Archdiocese of Kampala, which covers Kampala, Mpigi, Wakiso and Butambala districts.
Clean water, effective sanitation and good hygiene practices have proven to be fundamental to saving lives, reducing suffering and effectively controlling conditions of water borne related diseases. Communities in the Archdiocese of Kampala are faced with challenges related to access to safe drinking water, good sanitation facilities and appropriate hygiene practices. It is noted that at the household level and the majority of schools, the rainwater harvesting collection is sparsely practiced as a solution to the prevalent challenge of few water sources. The majority of the population walks long distances to access water, which is time consuming and a hindrance to learners’ concentration and performance in academics. Many schools in the Archdiocese of Kampala do not have even a single tank for rain water harvesting and those with tanks are of small capacity that cannot even supply the water needs for a week. Thus, pupils and students have to fetch water on their heads from the water sources in a jerrycan and buckets. This practice disrupts the school timetable and is risky for the girls who are vulnerable to sexual harassment, including rape.
As far as sanitation facilities are concerned, the human excreta disposal in slums is worse with low quality toilet facilities, which are poorly constructed with neither privacy nor adherence to Kampala City Council Authority hygiene and health standards. The habit of defecating in polythene bags and disposing them off during the night under the cover of darkness (known as flying toilets) is common among households in the slums. This situation contributes to an escalation of water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases, exacerbated by the poor drainage system, especially during the rainy season. Landlords have a tendency of draining their toilets into surrounding drainage channels when it is raining to save the cost of hiring cesspool emptier vehicles. This practice contributes to pollution of the underground water system in Kampala City. As a result, the majority of the spring wells are contaminated, being unsuitable for human use and consumption, as declared by the 2008 Water and Sanitation Study in Kampala’s Slums, a research by Noelle A Fog. These water sources contain faeces and are common breeding grounds of water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases like cholera, dysentery, diarrhoea and malaria.
In this context, the WASH Department is looking for development partners to expand its community and school interventions, focusing on increasing the access to clean and safe water by providing water jars to impoverished households, installing plastic tanks and constructing concrete tanks in schools to promote rainwater harvesting, alongside boreholes, spring and shallow wells. On poor sanitation facilities, the WASH Department looks at constructing lined-up toilets in slums, whose technology enabled it to be emptied, last longer and is environmentally friendly. The same technology shall be applied in schools coupled with the installation of purification water systems for daily consumption. Thus, we shall construct sanitation facilities with a washroom and changing room, which is also an avenue for supporting girls to attend school even when they are in their menstrual periods. In the process, knowledge dissemination through community education sessions (sensitization and awareness campaigns) on appropriate hygiene best practices, behavioral and attitudinal change shall be carried out concomitant, so that the lives of the urban poor living in informal settlements, in particular, and in the rural areas in the Archdiocese of Kampala, in general, are transformed.
The ultimate goal for WASH Department is geared towards the improvement of peoples’ livelihoods through increased access to safe water, improved appropriate sanitation facilities and promotion of hygienic best practices in the Archdiocese of Kampala.
To contribute to increased access to safe and clean water in the Archdiocese of Kampala
To improve sanitation and hygiene practices among communities in the Archdiocese of Kampala
To contribute to increased access to proper information on water, sanitation and hygiene best practices.
Activities to date and achievements
The implementation process of WASH project emphasizes community participation and resource contribution as prerequisite for supporting the construction of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in collaboration with the local leaders. Based on the lessons learnt during the pilot project implemented in slums, a knock on effect can be attained with continued support and work with people in the slums. In this pilot project, 15 plastic tanks were distributed to 10 schools, 8 appropriate sanitation and hygiene facilities (lined-up toilets) were constructed to vulnerable households and schools to improve their sanitation conditions, reducing their vulnerability to hygiene and sanitation related diseases. The project carried out hygiene, sanitation, education, and awareness sessions in the communities, alongside supporting the formation and strengthening of WASH Clubs in schools, which lead to sustainable usage of facilities with the adoption of positive behaviors in schools and at the household level.
We have observed from various studies that 65% of the population in these slums have access to clean and safe water and the remaining access it from other sources. But still, even when water is available in urban areas and the distance is reduced, many users cannot afford to pay for clean & safe water that is accessible, hence its usefulness becomes limited to such people as they pay three times more than those in the formal settlements for each liter of water they use.
Available statistics indicate that latrine coverage in Kampala City is at 85%, but this is not the case in the slum zones. The majority of the landlords construct houses with no sanitation facilities and those who do so offer toilets in very poor conditions. As a result, people have to use public toilets, and for every visit, one has to pay a cost of 300 shillings regardless of purpose. These aspects turn the practice of defecating in polythene bags and disposing them very common one among households in these slum zones.
Furthermore, many of the slums are located in swampy areas, and those landlords who install sanitation facilities, can only afford a pit latrine, which can easily contaminate the underground water and compromise the source.
Future Plans of Action
Both urban and rural areas have varying needs on issues related to (i) access to safe water, (ii) sanitation facilities, and (iii) hygiene conditions. In the new expanded WASH program, the WASH Department proposes to reach to 227 primary schools, 45 secondary schools and communities in the Archdiocese of Kampala that are greatly in need and demand of safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education program. To contribute to the above framework, Caritas expects to intensify the construction of lined-up toilets, rainwater harvesting tanks, community springs and shallow wells, and installation of purification water systems in schools in the Archdiocese of Kampala.
Pictorial overview of some of the work done