The need at Bwambara Hill

WATSAN’s next big target project is at Bwambara Hill, where we hope to reduce the spread of disease and improve the quality of life for people by building three rainwater harvesting tanks, 19 new toilets, and washing facilities. 

Crumbling latrine at Bwambara Church

Bwambara Hill is a community of around 30,000 people, situated deep in the Rift Valley. The area has recently suffered severe drought and crop failure. Communities largely survive on subsistence farming, and live far beyond the reach of government-provided water infrastructure.

WATSAN’s Field Director Eric Baingana writes:

Children queuing for water in Bwambara“The people living in the Bwambara Hill area find it very difficult to access clean and safe water; there is only one spring called Rugyera spring to which people living in Bwambara town plus schools within the town and in the neighbourhood of this town come to collect water. As a result, there is always congestion at the time of water collection.

“At times, especially during a dry season, some people in order to avoid congestion at the spring, because during this period its flow rate decreases, resort to collect water from river Rushaya, which is 6 km to and from.

“Generally, the implication of this water crisis in the area is that the water haulers Water collection at the Rushaya Rivertake a lot of time either waiting at the spring because of congestion, or travelling a long distance to the Rushaya River to collect water. As a result children miss school, adults find no time to work on their gardens or do other productive work, people use contaminated water which is collected from Rushaya River due to water runoffs when it rains, or contaminated by animals excreta, since animals share this water with human beings.”

A filthy, crumbling latrine at BwambaraThe community comprises a Primary and Secondary School and a trading centre and church. Existing facilities in all of these institutions are severely crumbling and extremely unsanitary – the picture to the left, for example, is the latrine belonging to the church and used by the wider community. Girls at the secondary school have a very basic bathing shelter, which means that when they are menstruating they often simply do not attend school.

Bwambara Primary headmaster's officeWATSAN’s team have already started working with the local community, engaging the management teams of both schools, and talking to community leaders via the existing Bwambara Rukungiri Development Group. The latter organisation will be engaged to form organisation and management committees to care for the structures that are built, but also to instigate local fundraising initiatives to make a contribution towards the hardware and software activities that WATSAN has planned. This includes a planned Bwambara town Walk for Water, inspired by the UK Support Group’s two-yearly fundraising event.

The first meeting with the Development Group has already taken place, and baseline surveys of the natural facilities undertaken by WATSAN’s engineers. Our staff have also met with the headteachers of both schools, the pupils themselves and the Bwambara Archdeaconry. In all cases it was explained that local contributions to co-fund projects are important, as these create a sense of ownership among the beneficiaries, and helps motivates the funders in the UK.

The solution specified consists of:

  • Three rainwater harvesting tanks (30 cubic metres each)
  • Five new toilet blocks (multiple pit latrines and urinals in each block)
  • A new girls’ bathing shelter with eight compartments
  • A community spring
  • Associated ‘software’ activities – outreach and education about health and hygiene, and how to maintain the facilities.

The total cost is £38,000, minus a small contribution by the local community. An initial payment of £16,000 was sent to Uganda in April so that the first phase of the project can begin (one five-stance pit latrine and two rainwater harvesting tanks). This was made possible thanks to the wonderful generosity of donors following our November appeal. We hope to raise funds for the final tank at The Funding Network on 17th May.

If you would like to give to this project, please visit our donation page.

Save the date for our next Walk for Water: 22nd June 2019

Our two-yearly fundraising walk is in the planning stages, and will take place in the Quantock Hills in Somerset.

Quantock Hills

The Quantock Hills are an area of wilderness and tranquillity near Taunton in Somerset, South-West England. Our 18-mile walk will take in panoramic views of heathland, hills and woods, as well as lakes and rivers. The hills have been an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1956.

As with our previous walks, we will make a group booking at a hostel for the Friday and Saturday nights, and meals will be provided. The objective is for walkers to attract sponsorship for doing the walk, which has resulted in the event being our biggest fundraiser – at the 2017 Walk for Water we raised nearly £22,000 for WATSAN.

We are most grateful to supporter Andrew Starr for helping us plan this event.

Watch this space for booking information!

WATSAN makes it through to The Funding Network Oxford

We are delighted to announce that WATSAN will be presenting at The Funding Network in Oxford in May 2018 – a live crowdfunding event where we hope to raise £3,000-£4,000 for our Bwambara project.

The Funding Network (TFN) describe their events as “a friendly Dragon’s Den”. At the event, four charities pitch a project for funding to an audience of around 100 donors. Each charity has just six minutes to sell their project to the crowd, then six minutes to answer any questions.

After all the charities have pitched, audience members take part in a live bidding session, pledging donations starting at around £100 each to support the projects that inspired them. At the Oxford event, which has been run annually for the past ten years by a team of local volunteers, charities typically raise around £4,000 each when they pitch.

Getting through to the event required WATSAN’s trustees to complete a detailed application form, and we were shortlisted from a much larger pool of applications. We also did a rather nerve-wracking one-minute pitch to the panel over the phone, which gave an insight into how challenging the real thing will be!

Trustee Kate Parrinder will take the stand to make the pitch at the event, and will appeal for funds for WATSAN’s Bwambara Hill project, a community of around 1,500 people that has suffered severe drought and crop failure. The nearest water source is the Rushaya River, four kilometres away by foot. We will ask donors at the event to consider funding one of the three planned rainwater collection tanks in the community, along with associated software/education.

TFN takes place on Thursday 17th May 2018 from 6.00pm at the Ship Street Centre, Jesus College, Oxford. It promises to be a fun and inspiring evening out, and the chance to hear from WATSAN plus three other small local charities (Ark T, Oxford Against Cutting and Human Story Theatre).

We would like to encourage as many supporters to attend as possible – you can book tickets here!

Replacement vehicle purchased for Ugandan team

The new pick-up truck is a crucial tool for the project team to visit work sites, survey new areas for future projects and check up on the maintenance of existing systems.
WATSAN staff standing next to the new vehicle

The vehicle is a white Toyota Hilux pick-up, and cost 56 million Ugandan Shillings, or just over £11,000. WATSAN was lucky to benefit from the expertise of both trustee Stephen Bullett in the UK, an engineer and keen mechanic, and travel agent, broker and Rukungiri local Simonpeter Kansime, who arranged the sale. It replaces worn-out and depreciating vehicle that had been costing the team unreasonable amounts in repairs.

Funds for the vehicle came from the UK Walk for Water in 2017. The team in Uganda is delighted with the new piece of kit, telling us: “It is a strong and speedy vehicle, admired by people at North Kigezi Diocese and beyond!”.

Read more about our projects


Fantastic response to our funding appeal!

Before Christmas we wrote to all of our supporters to let them know about the completion of the Rumbugu project, and explain WATSAN’s ongoing project management costs.Four members of staff in Uganda wearing WATSAN t-shirts

Our administrative costs at home are minimal – less than 2% of our income – but in Uganda, as well as the direct cost of implementing projects such as Rumbugu, WATSAN has project management costs that the team on the ground in Rukungiri incur in order to support the work, and ensure value for money. These include salaries for three members of staff, who deal with organisational and financial administration, a critical part of project costs. We have premises costs for a small office, vehicle costs for travelling around projects, training for staff, and importantly, WATSAN’s ongoing sustainability work. This encourages and supports communities with the upkeep and maintenance of existing schemes, ensuring that they have longevity and represent value for money.

Whilst not the most glamorous of expenses, WATSAN’s project management funding is what allows us to employ experienced, skilled staff, and to ensure your money is spent diligently and responsibly. We love, admire and trust the staff team, and speak to them very regularly about their work. The cost of this to the UK Support Group is between £15,000 and £20,000 per year (the equivalent of a starting salary for a graduate in the UK), depending on the contribution available from project funding.

Generally, over 50% of these costs is provided as part of the budget for projects funded either by ourselves, such as Rumbugu, or by other charities, such as TearFund. The remainder comes from donations from our many regular and occasional donors. However, our experience of project funding is that it can be unreliable. We need to be able to provide the team on the ground with greater stability and certainty. To do this, we need to raise an additional £7,500 per year from regular, committed, donors to WATSAN. This will also provide extra support for our sustainability work.

We asked donors if they would consider setting up a new standing order, topping up an existing one, or making a one-off donation. The response we received from our wonderful donors was phenomenal: a boost to our standing order income, many extra donations from individuals and church collections, plus two fantastic anonymous £10,000 donations! We are so grateful for this show of support and friendship.

This more stable base allows the team in Uganda to be confident in their WATSAN roles, and continue to carry out projects and sustainability maintenance work. Thank you so much!