Water tanks help Ugandan households keep dry spells away
As the scorching afternoon sun beats down on the small village of Katembe in Uganda, Jennifer Nyakato’s new water tank stands out like an oasis in a hot desert.
The 7000-litre tank was built for the 50-year-old mother of five to collect water during the rainy season and avoid making the long journey to the nearest water source seven kilometers away during the dry season.
- The project supports government and community efforts to adapt to climate change through conservation and sustainable use of natural resources
- 85% of the Ugandan population is rural and depends on rain-fed agriculture
- Water harvesting tanks help mitigate the impact of droughts and increase safety for women and girls
- Beneficiaries are mandated to plant trees and promote sanitation and hygiene among the community
“This tank has saved me and the children a lot of time,” Jennifer explains. She adds that the children can now go early to school, while she works in her garden.
The tank was provided by UNDP as part of a project to enhance resilience to climate change and support the efforts of local governments and communities to sustainably manage and use natural resources, while integrating adaptation and mitigation in their activities. The funds come from UNDP’s core resources, while the project is implemented by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in collaboration with various ministries, local governments and Civil Society Organisations.
In Kapembe, the project works with the MJK Tree Nursery, a 250-strong community-based organization that received a small grant of 21 million Uganda shillings (about US$7400) from UNDP to reach out to its members most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change.
“We built seven tanks. For six of those, the beneficiaries are women while the seventh is a man,” says Deuson Kajumbe, MJK’s project coordinator. The group also built 3 additional tanks with its own savings.
Deuson explains that the group was first sensitized on the importance of rainwater harvesting and tree growing. The selected individuals must also meet basic sanitation standards in their homes such as having a latrine.
“The group members rallied together and built Jennifer a latrine since she did not have one in her home,” Kajumbe reveals.
Rose Karuhanga, water and sanitation officer for MJK, adds that having water close to home is important for women as many of them have been raped as they go to fetch water in the night.
“When we visited the health centres, they told us that 15 out of every 20 women and girls that seek treatment are treated for sexually transmitted diseases, which many revealed to be the consequence of rapes on the way to the well,” Rose says.
She adds that although women do not openly discuss these matters with their husbands, having water close to their homes has brought then peace because they do not have to worry about their or their daughters’ safety and health.
Scovia Tumwebaze, another beneficiary, agrees: “Before I got the tank, I’d wake up at 3 a.m. to fetch water because the well is usually crowded during the day and you’d spend a lot of time waiting in queues”.
She was afraid to ask her husband to accompany her to the well, believing it is a woman’s duty to fetch water for the home. “With this tank, I feel safe,” she says.
The group’s other activities include tree planting with members of a neighbouring community association, with over 20,000 seedlings planted along a 2km river stretch that acts as a buffer zone for erosion and landslides.