Published on: 02/10/2012
In a bid to foster participatory approaches to sustainable management of water sources in Lira and Kabarole districts, IRC/Triple-S Uganda has started organizing parish dialogues between Sub County Water Supply and Sanitation Boards (SWSSBs) and community members.
Inaugural dialogues were held in Kabarole District, 24-26 September, covering the sub-counties of Busoro, Karambi, Kicwamba and Buheesi. Participants included water users, Local Council Representatives, and SWSSB members. Several issues were discussed including: payment of water user fees, repair of faulty water sources, maintenance of hygiene around sources, among many others.
"As a parish chief, I will come, together with the Local Council authorities, and arrest anyone who is not abiding by the laws you will have put in place..."
In Karambi sub-county, the Humura village Local council chairman, Mr Kisembo revealed that community members are reluctant to engage in community work around the water sources.
“Many times, when we call members to participate in the community cleanliness exercise around the water wells, very few of them turn up. This slows down the maintenance of hygiene at the water sources since it is during such activities that we repair the fence to prevent animals from accessing the water sources, clear the drainage and map out ways in which to keep our sources functional.” Kisembo… said.
To ensure that community members participate in work around source maintenance, participants proposed that Water User Committees (WUCs) open registers to keep track of the water user’s involvement. This will also keep a record of the community members who do not pay the user fees that were set at UShs.500 (Less than 1$).
In all three sub counties, community members also suggested to have a time table so that each household will have a schedule for working at the water well. This, according to the Karambi community, will improve community ownership and ensure maintenance of hygiene around water sources.
“Every water user committee should open up a register to keep track of the water users so as to easily collect user fees. Whoever hesitates to pay the fees will be reprimanded. This means that bylaws should be put in place so that the parish chiefs can easily arrest whoever does not pay the fees. There is no free water anymore. The water sources need maintenance and this means that they have to be paid for,” Said the Karambi SWSSB member, Mrs Kateeba.
Although some community members in the three sub-counties argued that children be banned from accessing water sources because of improper handling of the facilities, Martin Watsisi, the IRC/Triple-S District Learning Facilitator advised that wood barriers be erected at the hand pumps in order to control the use of handles. He argued that culturally, children are expected to help their parents with household chores like water fetching, so it wouldn’t be practical to stop them from accessing water sources.
On issues concerning accountability, members of the water boards informed the community that receipts should be issued to people who pay user fees. WUCs were encouraged to acquire receipt books immediately as this will enable them to give accountability and enhance mutual trust.
Community members in the three sub-counties further suggested that the technical personnel and political leaders should form teams to enforce bylaws related to operation and maintenance of water sources.
“As a parish chief, I will come, together with the Local Council authorities, and arrest anyone who is not abiding by the laws you will have put in place. The district officials and village leaders will work hand in hand to ensure proper maintenance and usage of the water sources. Go and tell your community members that if they do not abide by the by laws, they shall be arrested and will pay penalty charges,” Mr. Kato Saad…….. the Sub County chief for Busoro Sub County explained.
In Buheesi Sub County, Nathan Mugabe, the Assistant District Water Officer urged the water users to maintain the water sources available before asking for new ones. However, the community members said they were frustrated by the frequent break down of water sources, shortly after repair.
A caretaker at Kirere shallow well in Busoro, believes that this recurring problem is caused by some unscrupulous people who attempt to repair hand pumps yet they are not trained for the task. In the long run, parts are taken and the water sources are left in a worse condition.
With such a vibrant start, the parish dialogue meetings are poised to be a productive method of shared learning and open discussion from the grassroots to the top leaders.