Water Collection Exposes Women and Children to Danger
By Lucy de Latour, EACO Uganda Volunteer
Blog first published in Under African Skies
Lucy de Latour trained as a lawyer and has worked in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom. She spent two months in Uganda during 2012, volunteering through an organisation called The Real Uganda, which places international volunteers in grassroots organisations. During this time she spent a month volunteering withEmpowerment and Care Organisation (EACO Uganda) – Safe World Field Partner in central Uganda.
Piped Water is Expensive in Mukono
After spending two months in Uganda, I think the thing that I still find most astounding is that, despite the amount it rains, there is a huge lack of ready access to clean water.
Mukono, where I am living, is a large town, there is access to piped water supplied by the council on some streets, but very few people use it due to the expense. Even the ‘apartment’ where I live has no running water (and believe me, the standard of accommodation where I am is much better than the houses most people in the community live in).
Shower, sink and washing facilityThe water I use is collected from a rainwater tank at the bottom of the apartment complex (I live on the third floor).
While the distance it has to be carried is much less than most people face, it still means no running water. All water is carried and stored in jerry cans. There is no shower, no sink.
Plastic buckets serve as the shower, the kitchen sink, and the washing machine.
For me personally, having no running water isn’t a hardship. My water is collected for me. A bucket shower is pretty effective and I have gotten used to traipsing outside to the pit toilet.
But I can’t help think of all the people here in Uganda who have to walk to collect water and the difficulties water collection creates.
Water Collection – Dangerous for Women and Children
- It can be a long way to walk. The well that the school I volunteered at uses is 1km from school. The distance walked can be much greater than that.
- It takes a long time. In addition to the walk to the well, there is often a queue at the well or bore hole before the water can be collected (such wait is often hours long due to the demand placed on individual wells and bore holes). Water collection can literally take hours out of the day. It is no wonder that it takes so long for things to happen here in Uganda. Productivity here is severely hampered by everyday tasks.
- In many places the water can be very poor quality. The murky water in the photo below gives an indication.
- It is dangerous. How, you might ask?
Well, often bore holes and wells are at the bottom of valleys surrounded by bush (as this is where the water source is). Given that collection generally has to occur outside school/work hours, it is often dark (remember, school doesn’t finish until 5.30pm and it gets dark around 6.30pm).
Water collection is a real danger for children targeted for child sacrifice. Women also get raped on occasion when walking in the dark to collect water.
So, when the water pressure in your shower isn’t quite what you hoped today, give a thought for those who don’t even have the luxury of running water.