A warm welcome to the UK for our WATSAN Uganda staff, Eric and Moses!

In June we were delighted to host WATSAN’s Field Director Canon Eric Baingana, and our Kinkiizi Link Person Moses Kabarebe on their visit to the UK, where we reinforced the links between the UK Support Group and WATSAN’s operational team.

The welcome was warm – but unfortunately the weather was not! Torrential rain on the motorway greeted the travellers on 7th June, followed by the wettest week of the summer. Eric and Moses were cheerful companions however, hosted by seven different trustees and WATSAN supporters, and participating in a dozen or so meetings and church services focusing on WATSAN, as well as sightseeing in London, Oxford, Hampshire and the Cotswolds.

There was a lively meeting and supper with UK trustees, and a happy reunion with members of the St. Peter’s Bishops Waltham 2017 tour party (pictured). Eric and Moses made visits to Christchurch Deanery, and to Crawley and Slough Baptist churches, the latter planning a project tour in 2020.

The fifth Walk for Water weekend from 21st–23rd June in the Quantock Hills provided a grand (and thankfully sunny!) finale to their visit.

Find out more about Eric and Moses and other WATSAN staff

Successful 2019 Walk for Water raises over £17k for WATSAN

During WATSAN’s Fifth UK Walk for Water, 57 wonderful supporters took part in walking, dispensing refreshments, marshalling and chauffeuring, with many more providing the vital sponsorship that enabled us to reach a fundraising total of over £17,000. This will go a long way towards funding a new water and sanitation project at Kihihi Hill in Uganda.

The Walk for Water took place on Saturday 22nd June 2019 amid the glorious scenery of the Quantock Hills in Somerset. We were delighted that so many took part and a very high proportion reached the summit of Will’s Neck, and completed the full 20 miles. The video below, courtesy of Jonny Bensted, gives a real flavour of the day.

We are extremely grateful to each and every one of the 57 people who took part: six in support (dispensing refreshments, marshalling and chauffeuring), 31 completing the whole 20-mile walk, and another 10 completing at least 10 miles. And special thanks to those who were unable to be with us, but kindly sponsored walkers so generously!

Elizabeth completing her stepsThere were two special features this year. Firstly, Elizabeth Starr, who has been with us on three out of the four previous walks, but sadly suffered a life-threatening brain haemorrhage in September 2018, was able to join us. Elizabeth is well on the road to recovery, and plans, God willing, to resume her studies for her final year at Sheffield University this month September, using her wheelchair and specially adapted student accommodation. Her participation in the walk was short but spectacular, achieving a record 120 steps, supported by her parents and encouraged by her sister Joanna and the other participants during our lunch break at the National Trust’s Fyne Court, the half way point of the main walk. You can read about Elizabeth’s experience on her blog here.

Secondly, it was a special pleasure to have Eric Baingana and Moses Kabarebe with us, from the WATSAN Team in Uganda. We received this note from them two days later: “Praise God. Words cannot express the gratitude upon our hearts, (Canon Eric and I), for participating in yesterday’s walk for water activity in the Quantock Hills. First I want to thank you for considering us to be part of it. Organizing such a great team of dignified men and women, young and old to be part of the activity was so superb. More so, for the overall arrangement, a well thought about route and special thanks go to our day’s guide and the hospitality team. To us walking over 20 miles in amazing hills, valleys and rugged paths increased our sense of a deep love for WATSAN activities. Though we are still feeling the aching, pains and dizziness in our body parts, we are nonetheless so thankful.”

Turning to outcomes of the Walk, it is good to be able to report that work has already started at Kihihi Hill, the main objective of this 5th Walk for Water. Our Field Director Eric Baingana has written recently that “Implementation of Kihihi project is ongoing. Construction of both a rainwater harvesting tank at Kihihi church and a six-stance pit latrine for boys at Kihihi High School has started.”

The somewhat less good news is that proceeds from the Walk, at around £17,000 after expenses, will not meet the full cost of the project, especially as we were hoping to be able to fund a motorbike to enable Moses to get around the area in his important role as our Link Man in Kinkiizi Diocese, and in monitoring past projects in Kanungu District, both physically and managerially.

We are extremely thankful that work has been able to start at Kihihi. However, the total cost of the project is around £35,000, of which some £27,000 has been raised to date, including, remarkably, a sum of £4,500 in Uganda at their own Walk for Water, held in Kihihi itself on 15th March 2019. After allowing for a further £4,000 contributed by beneficiaries and institutions in Kihihi, we need a further £11,000, including £3,000 for the new motorbike referred to above. Gift-aided contributions could reduce this target to less that £9,000. We would be very grateful if our supporters would consider making a contribution towards this life-saving project.

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Joy and celebration as Bwambara Hill project completed

In autumn 2018, brand-new water and sanitation facilities were built in the two schools in Bwambara Hill, and were formally handed over to the local community by WATSAN at an official Commissioning Ceremony on 26th February 2019. These are now being used by school pupils and staff, with excellent feedback from the field.

Before WATSAN’s project, the two schools in Bwambara had no water harvesting facilities of their own at all, and staff and pupils were dependent on gathering water from a dilapidated and overused spring in the community, to which they had to walk and queue to collect water, or when this spring frequently dried up, from the polluted Rushaya River 4km away. Existing sanitation facilities were tumbledown, squalid and fly-blown. WATSAN UK Support spent much of 2018 focusing on fundraising for this life-saving project where the need was so great.

Following fundraising efforts at The Funding Network, a pub quiz and at a local Ugandan Walk for Water in Bwambara Hill, WATSAN was able to carry out all of the work proposed to improve the lives of residents. As well as the construction of three rainwater harvesting tanks, five pit latrines and a low-yield spring, WATSAN delivered comprehensive health and hygiene education to staff, students and the local community.

An organisation and management committee that is now responsible for the upkeep of the structures has been established, and WATSAN staff carried out a series of community meetings, home and school visits to assess in general terms the impact on the community of hygiene and sanitation improvements and health and hygiene education.

As part of these visits, 196 homes were visited, where the WATSAN team identified 98 new hand washing facilities created by residents after the education programme; 62 homes with clean drinking water containers; 16 new compost pits; 46 new dish drying racks; clean water-fetching utensils, and clean swept compounds. This suggests the project has delivered the all-important behavioural change that will ensure the benefits are sustainable over time.

In a gesture of goodwill towards the project and WATSAN, the Ministry of Water and Environment donated four plastic tanks, each one 10,000 litres, which were allocated to the Archdeacon’s residence, Bwambara Primary school staff house, Bwambara Secondary school staff house, Pa-Pee Primary school.

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Pub quiz raises over £500 for WATSAN

A very successful WATSAN fundraising pub quiz was held on 28th September 2018 in the Wig and Pen in central Oxford.

Forty or so supporters and friends pitted their wits against a University Challenge 2006 quarter-finalist quizmaster at the quiz, with the winners Aqua Shambles taking home prizes donated by the pub. £540 was raised to help provide clean water and dignified sanitation to communities in Uganda.

We are grateful to Bryn Harris for his questions and for acting as question-master on this happy occasion!

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WATSAN trustee Andrew Maclean reports back from the field

One of WATSAN’s UK trustees, Andrew Maclean, visited the project in the field from 13th to 17th September 2018, and was able to report back on progress of the Bwambara project in particular.

The staff team accompanied Andrew on several project visits, including some recently completed sustainability projects.

One was Ndere Mini-Gravity Scheme, which was originally built as a low-yield spring, but extra eyes were found during construction, and as they were building it became evident that the community around the spring had other sources, including a protected low-yield spring for the primary school built 10 years ago. Meanwhile the community across the valley and further down rely on water collected from the river and pools, which are heavily polluted as there are no springs on that side of the valley. The WATSAN team have implemented a system allowing three eyes to feed a small sedimentation tank, which in turn feeds a 50mm pipe running about 400m to below the primary school, with branches to two other tapstands.

On visiting Bwambara, Andrew comments: “Bwambara is deep into the rift valley nearly at the edge of the national park – about 1½ hours from Rukungiri but the road is much better than when I lived here! It is also much more densely settled, with many families moving in from the Kabale area. At Bwambara there is a small town, an arch-deaconry, a secondary school and two primary schools, all clustered around a low hill standing out from the plain. There is much less water than in the hills, and the groundwater deeper down is saline according to the locals, so boreholes are not an option. Building materials are also poor locally as the sand is also saline and there are no stones or good bricks nearby. The sandy soil also makes latrines difficult as it collapses so the pits have to be brick lined.

“Three long-serving fundis [masons] are working on the scheme – Able, Sam and Godfrey [pictured above].

“The team have already got the community to cut back the bushes growing in the catchment area and re-dig the cut off drains. The main flow still comes through the pipe and it was great to see how well a spring can last and how the detailing has worked out. There was still a plastic-lined steel pipe (but this looks to be a replacement) and the splash stone has prevented erosion of the base.

“We have just funded the construction of an adjacent low-yield spring. This is needed as the population is now more than triple what it was when the first spring was built. In the morning rush it means two people at a time can now get water. This spring has been finished very recently to a high standard and is working well.

“I saw two rainwater tanks built by the team, one at the church with a remote tapstand near the archdeacon’s, and one at the primary school. A third is to be built at the primary school near a poorly built and leaking old ferrocement tank built by others. Our tanks are good quality with nice guttering, even incorporating a first flush system.

“Various latrine blocks are being constructed. They are expensive as the pits have to be brick lined, and the team has built in concrete ring beams with cross beams half way up to hold the sides. Provision for future emptying has been made. All the latrines have a similar design with multiple stands all with good doors.

“The team had been very active doing software work in Bwambara, and we visited three households where improvements had been made – drying racks, sanplats, tippy taps, compost pits and bathing shelters. It is expected that these households will pass the message on to others. We also met some men employed by the chairman and the local council to build a latrine for an abandoned mother and children. This is Community Led Total Sanitation in action, as the family had been openly defecating before, putting everyone’s health at risk. The community had also fixed up her house with a new door and were helping the family. The woman had been very fearful and initially ran away as she thought she was going to be punished rather than helped!”

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