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Published on: 09/03/2017

Burungu is a rural primary school in Karambi Sub County of Kabarole district in Uganda with a population of over 420 pupils. Water is an absolute necessity for both the teachers and children.

It is recommended that each pupil accesses at least 5 litres per day. However, the nearest source – a borehole just about 400 metres away from the school – cannot be relied upon. It breaks down frequently. Well-wishers often do partial repairs to keep the borehole functional, but not for too long. School-going girls and boys must take the risk to move past the borehole, across a highway to the next valley to scoop water from the ponds and carry it uphill to the school. Not only is the water unclean but it is also a heavy burden for the pupils to carry uphill and across a highway with the risk of being run over by speeding cars.

Broken Burungu borehole overlooking the valley with alternative water source - ponds

This was the story for Burungu until last November when a permanent solution was sought. IRC Uganda undertook to rehabilitate Burungu borehole and nine others in Kabarole district. The rehabilitation would be followed by a change in the management of the boreholes to ensure that their functionality is sustained for a longer time, and thus ensure that the surrounding communities enjoy a reliable supply of safe water. Working closely with the district Hand Pump Mechanics Association (HPMA), IRC made the initial investment in a full rehabilitation and then entrusted the hand pump mechanics to keep monitoring and servicing the boreholes.

IRC also invested time in sensitising the communities on ways of managing their boreholes to ensure that they provide water services that last. With the consensus of the school administration, parents, and neighbouring households, the borehole was fully rehabilitated replacing old parts, repairing the splash apron and reconstructing a protective fence. A new management committee constituted and trained.

New sustainability measures were instituted. Users agreed to pay UGX 100 (0.27 USD) per 20 litre jerrycan. Of the collections, 20% would be saved for future repairs, pay a caretaker for day-to-day operations and ensure that a hand pump mechanic undertakes routine servicing and repairs. A meter was installed to ensure accountability for money collected. While the caretaker was previously a volunteer, in this new management model he or she gets paid, which motivates him/her to take the assignment more seriously. This new way of managing, dubbed "pay-as-you-fetch model" ensures that the borehole account has enough funds to ensure that any breakdown of the source is attended to immediately. This effectively breaks the vicious cycle of returning to the pond whenever the borehole breaks down and takes days, weeks or even months before it's repaired.

With the start of the new academic year in February, each pupil paid UGX 300 (0.14 USD) as a contribution towards the borehole maintenance throughout the term. Other members of the community pay UGX 100 per 20-22 litre jerrycan fetched. From these collections Peter Ahumuza the caretaker is paid a monthly wage of UGX 100,000 (29 USD). Because he is fully motivated to do the caretaking job, the results of Ahumuza's presence are the visibly clean borehole, orderly use and funds saved for repairs when the need arises.

Nyakahuma James, the Burungu primary school head teacher, as well as Agnes Kwikiriza, the school senior woman teacher, concur in looking at the short term benefits of this newly rehabilitated borehole with a new management model. "The little ones are now safe. We do not have to worry about them going far into the valley to fetch water," says Nyakahuma.The long-term benefits for the children in that community may come in the form of improved school attendance especially for girls, improved grades and health.

While the rehabilitation of the Burungu primary school borehole has been successfully completed, there are many other schools and communities in rural Kabarole that are still stuck with unreliable water sources. Kanyarango borehole in Busoro Sub county, Mukumbwe borehole in Karambi Sub County, and Kabata borehole in Kasenda Sub County are just a few examples. For those communities, safe water remains a distant dream. Shall we make this dream come true?

Be part of this solution by joining the #ircwashrunningforwater to keep Kabarole girls in school!

Rehabilitation was a turnaround with above and below surface new installations by the Hand Pump Mechanics



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