In Busimbi village, Lwengo district, many families spend hours each day walking long distances to fetch clean water.
They are facing a crisis of shortage of safe and clean water after many of the water sources were contaminated, putting them at risk of contracting water-borne diseases.
Besides Busimbi, the other villages in Lwengo facing water crisis are Malango, Kengwe, Kitongole, Kiteredde and Bamunanika.
Deus Nakavuma, a resident of Busimbi village, explained the struggle she undergoes to get clean and safe water. She says she spends more than 4 hours walking to look for clean water from a nearby source which is approximately 6 kilometres away from her home.
Given this situation, Nakavuma says she bathes twice or thrice a week and the scarcity of clean water in the village has forced the locals to share water with animals.
A spatial map developed by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicates that 11 million people live without access to clean water in Uganda, leading them to make difficult and risky choices.
Unsafe water is one of the largest barriers to eradicating extreme poverty.
Elias Byayano Amahoro, a resident of Kikanika village in Kyazanga sub county, Lwengo, says that most villages in Kyazanga depend on “dirty water” which takes a long process to purify for home use.
“Imagine walking for more than 6 kilometres looking for water and sometimes you come back home without it. You can find approximately 160 people lining up and waiting to fetch water,” he says.
Amahoro believes the government can do something to change the situation, saying that this is an issue which cannot be ignored unless the people in this area have been abandoned.
“The water is not safe at all but we have nothing to do, we use it as it is. The worst thing is we fetch it from far away,” he says.
While the government says water coverage stands at 63% nationally, in 130 sub-counties (out of 1,024 countrywide), it is also below 39%.
Equally, there is disparity in the functionality of water facilities across districts. This in turn affects people’s livelihoods and in the long run affects national efforts to achieve sustainable development goals.
Scovia Njenda, a resident in Busimbi village, uses three jerry cans in a day and this is not enough but given the hardships in accessing clean water points, she has to use it sparingly to prepare all house activities such as cooking, bathing among others.
Njenda walks at least 8 kilometres to get to a clean water source which is located at Kyazanga town council, a situation which is very tiresome not only for her but for the entire family.
She says she had resorted to buying water but a 20-litre jerry can go for between Shs1,000 and Shs1,500, depending on location. This is expensive for a family that lives hand to mouth.
A study conducted by Makerere University Institutional Repositor in 2021 in Kyazanga and Malongo Sub counties in Lwengo showed that there was only one reliable and all-season source of water.
It revealed that on average, families spent three hours a day searching for clean water and in extreme cases travelled distances of up to 20 Km.
Schools, the study revealed, were also significantly affected with pupils spending substantial school time searching for water for personal use at school and for teachers.