Water and Sanitation


Water and Sanitation is essential for life and health, also essential for dignity, empowerment and prosperity. Water and sanitation are fundamental human rights. In Uganda, poor sanitation and hygiene, as well as unequal access to safe drinking water, make thousands of children fall sick and at risk of death. SDG – 6 “clean water and sanitation” is aimed at ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. According to Uganda sector performance report 2020, access to safe and clean water is at 65% in rural areas and 73% in urban areas. The current level of investment in water supply by Government and Development partners is not sufficient to cope with the high population group rate of 3.4% per annum and as a result the coverage has stagnated over years. Water and sanitation is key priority for Uganda focusing on elimination of open defecation and achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation (Uganda vision 2030). Get Water Uganda’s approach in addressing water and sanitation is geared towards promotion and marketing of safe water access using environmentally friendly technologies and awareness creation to enhance behavioral change. Our approach is focused on local collaborations that create long term impact and sustainable solutions. Safe water access: Get water Uganda promotes different water treatment technologies that support households to have access to safe drinking water from the available water sources. Currently three technologies are in practice:

a) Solar Water Disinfection with WADI (SODIS)
Currently over 20,000 households (Approximately over 100,000 people) are directly benefiting from this program in Busia and Namayingo districts in Eastern Uganda. This technology allows households to use the UV rays of the sun to treat contaminated surface water into safe drinking water. The technology uses PET bottles filled with water and placed under the sun with a WADI device placed besides, the WADI device is able to indicate the safety of water after a few hours. The solar-powered device not only provides people with safe water daily, it is easy to use and also has a positive impact on the environment. Solar Water Disinfection with WADI has been tested by the World Health Organization (WHO) and approved as an effective method for household water treatment.

b) Gravity Driven Membrane Filtration System (GDM water kiosks)
The Gravity Driven Membrane water kiosks was designed and piloted by Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), and Get Water Uganda. The technology was accessed and accredited in Uganda by the Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment. The technology that can treat microbiologically polluted, turbid raw water in one step at a community distribution point. The core of the treatment system contains of ultrafiltration modules with a pore size (“holes”) of 20-40 nm. In contrast to the complex operation & maintenance (O&M) requirements of installations using membrane filtration in industrialized contexts, the GDM approach needs minimal operation & maintenance because the biological activity in the biofilm on the membranes prevents clogging, leads to flux stabilization and therefore reduce the need for back-flushing and regular membrane disinfection. Additionally, no electricity or chemical cleaning is required. The filters retain bacteria, protozoa and most viruses as well as particles and some organic matter and the community is supplied water through a kiosk. The water is retrieved from Lake Victoria. A solar pump conveys the water to the raw water tank, from there it flows to the membrane tank, where the water is filtered and flows into the clean water tank. The water passes a chlorination unit and is sold at the taps of the water kiosk by installed water ATM. The community sets up a management committee that is responsible for ensuring long term operation and sustainability of the facility through O&M such as cleaning of the strainer of the pump, solar panels, flushing the membrane tanks, refilling of chlorine tablets, disinfection of clean water tank and conducting yearly membrane check-ups. The water access fee collected at the kiosk ensures payment of kiosk operator, meeting routine maintenance costs and serving of the system. As part of local contribution to the project, the community provides the territory for construction of the system and participates in setting up of the facility by providing local labour. Currently 3 kiosks have been constructed by Get Water Uganda providing safe water access to approximately 3,000 people in Busia and Namayingo districts. In addition, Get Water Uganda has trained and equipped local mechanics to support with general maintenance of the system for sustainability.

c) Rain water Harvesting
Uganda is well endowed with high amounts of rainfall in most parts of the country. Get water Uganda is promoting rain water harvesting in households and schools as part of self-supply strategy to support vulnerable households and schools that have distant access to water sources. The strategy is intended to create more learning for school children who would otherwise miss classes in search for water for school use as well avoid challenges involved along the way such as rape, accidents of drowning in open water sources etc. At the household level, 6,000Litre capacity tanks are constructed and at schools, 10,000litre capacity tanks of ferro cement and so far, is 08 ferro cement tanks of 10,000L capacity in 4 schools benefiting over 2,167 school children and 20 tanks of 6’000Litres to 20 vulnerable households (approximately 100 people) have been constructed respectively. The tanks are constructed based on an established selection criteria depending on the level of vulnerability of the households such as child headed households, the elderly, persons with disability and in consideration of distance to the water source.

i) Sanitation and Hygiene

In Uganda, nearly a tenth of the population practices open defecation, and two thirds of households do not wash hands with soap after visiting the latrine. People in rural areas carry the greatest burden of poor sanitation and 20% of the population is 13.5 times more likely to defecate in the open, according to the World Bank. Behavior change is the key to increasing the practice of hand washing with soap and ending open defecation. Get water Uganda is improving the situation through education and awareness creation that enhances behavioral change.

ii) WASH trainings for awareness creation
Our community-led total sanitation (CLTS) approach triggers the community to understand their own problems and come up with own solutions. GWU works in collaboration with the local government established structures to mobilize, trigger and train the community in proper sanitation and hygiene practices such as proper hand washing, proper waste management, keeping a clean environment, promoting construction of pit latrines, resulting into proper sanitation and hygiene practices and open defecation free villages. The program trained over 20,000 households from 165 villages in Busia and Namayingo districts in Eastern Uganda. The intervention has created awareness and led to a reduction in WASH related sicknesses in the communities of operation. ii) Strengthening of the community local structures for sustainable proper sanitation practices We enhance the replication of skills for sustainable sanitation and hygiene practices. Get Water Uganda promotes formation and training of sanitation committees at each village; comprising of seven members and are empowered with additional skills and knowledge. The village sanitation committee comprises of the area local leaders, the village health team members and the self-selected community volunteers called local artisans. The skills gained help them to support households in their respective villages on WASH infrastructure set up for program sustainability. Additionally, the sanitation committees work closely with Get Water Uganda and the local leadership in monitoring village sanitation progress.

iii) Monitoring and follow up of households on WASH
Get water Uganda, conducts households followed up in collaboration with local leadership to track and check the progress of households after village trainings on sanitation and hygiene practice. Every household is monitored at least once every three months for retraining, checking on technology usage, construction of wash infrastructure, identifying and solving any raising challenges faced by the households so as to improve the sanitation and hygiene practices among community members.

iv) Menstrual Hygiene Management
Menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of women and girls and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right. Globally, approximately 52% of the female population (26% of the total population) is of reproductive age. The subject of menstruation however, is too often perceived as a taboo and has many negative cultural attitudes associated with it, including the idea that menstruating women and girls are ‘dirty’ and ‘impure’. Women and girls in rural settings and in particular, girls in schools suffer most from stigma and lack of services and facilities to help them cope with the physical and psychological pains they undergo during their menstrual periods. Some of the problems they face are inadequate preparations for young girls not yet experiencing menstrual hygiene, lack of or inadequate water to clean and wash the body, lack of materials for managing menstrual hygiene, no private space and wash rooms and inappropriate facilities for disposal of materials for those who have used pads. To increase the retention rate of girls in schools and strengthen their capacities in managing menstrual hygiene, Get Water Uganda is constructing Menstrual Hygiene dedicated rooms in schools with facilities such as water access (through rain water harvesting tanks), equipped the changing rooms with the adequate menstrual materials and supplies constructed waste incinerators for waste management, empower senior woman teachers and school girls to address the myths that are against proper menstrual hygiene management through training and skilling activities and advocacy campaigns are carried out to bring all leaders and parents on board for menstruating girls through the dialogue meetings. Currently, Get Water Uganda has constructed 04 menstrual Hygiene Management rooms supporting over 2,000 school children in Busia district.