March 2013

In 2012 fresh2o donated five water tanks to families living with HIV in Uganda.

Water provision can be a challenge to those living with HIV and their caregivers. Culturally it’s a child’s job to fetch water for the family, with children in rural areas travelling long distances, with no guarantee that the water source is clean and safe.

This project has been implemented through Compassion International – a child care project in partnership with the Diocese of Kigezi. Buranga Child Development Centre supports 245 children, along with their guardians and parents, through provision of school fees, medication, training and counselling. Most of these children have either lost their parents or are living in difficult circumstances and require support.

It is probable that the majority of the parents died as a result of HIV infection. Some of the serving parents or guardians, and the children themselves, are also HIV positive.

Among other life challenges, the Buranga community face water accessibility difficulties, in terms of both distance and quality. Before this project the households involved had an average round trip of 2km to collect water. When it was reached, the water source was either a swamp or a lone spring with a low water yield and a long queue. Even worse, competition for water sometimes results in violence and travelling at night brings with it the potential for sexual abuse.

Those affected by HIV are at additional risk, as the majority of opportunistic infections are water related. For all of these reasons, the provision of safe water and improved hygiene goes a long way to improving livelihoods.

• Five household beneficiaries have been provided with a 4,000 litre ferrocement tank. The beneficiaries were provided with all the materials required, while the households provided unskilled labour and water required for construction.

• All five families were visited many times after installation, to verify the quality of the tanks constructed and ensure that improved levels of sanitation and hygiene could be maintained.

• These follow up visits also provided counselling support and health advice to those living with HIV and their families.

The first family that was visited was made up of two parents (both of whom are living with AIDS) and seven children, fortunately the children are free from the infection. This tank is very important for the family, as the nearest place where they can fetch water is a one hour, barefoot journey from their home. For this large family the water tank has relieved the huge burden of time and effort that water collection had involved.

The second place that the Fresh2o team visited was also a family home, in a neighbourhood of several small households. An old man, who happens to be the head of the family, welcomed them. He lost his daughter to HIV and has now taken on responsibility for his grandsons. Particularly given his age, this tank signifies a big change for Jonathan and his family.

At the third house the team met a man, the head of his family, who has reached the terminal stage of HIV. Although Herbert is now on medication his condition has left him bedridden, while his wife and one of his daughters care for him during his last days.

Herbert’s wife (also suffering with HIV but still physically strong) and daughters now have to divide their time between their usual work and taking care of their father. Having previously faced a 2km round trip to collect water, the water tank made a huge difference for these women. It has also eased the financial difficulties they have faced since losing their primary income.

Following construction Herbert’s wife reported “This tank is a big relief to our family. We now have enough clean water for drinking, cooking food, washing clothes and personal hygiene like bathing. We have sometimes been spending money to buy water; sometimes we spend Ushs 2000 a day.”

The fourth well was built for Hope’s family who live at the top of a mountain. Hope, an elderly lady or “mukaka”, who relies on a walking stick to get around, welcomed the team. Hope is the only one who’s taking care of her niece, whose mother died from HIV. Some months ago there was another family member taking care of the little girl, until he suffered a serious car accident. He lost one of his legs as a result, leaving him unable to work to support the child anymore. This tank represents a huge change for this Hope and her niece. Before it was installed she had to walk over steep terrain for more than four hours carrying water on her head.

This intervention was a continuation of what had been done in the community two years ago; but there are still some households in need. KDWSP will continue to solicit resources for intervention in the Kabale district and in the meantime home visits to encourage and counsel the families in Buranga will continue.

A household water tanks costs around £400 – which includes training in maintenance and sanitation. Our programme is on going and donations are gratefully accepted at www.fresh2o.org/donate