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!”.

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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!

Rumbugu project is commissioned

We are delighted to have now completed the water and sanitation improvements at Rumbugu School. This is a huge achievement on the part of the team in Uganda, but also thanks to our valued donors.

Ian Bensted, Bishop Benon Magezi and Eric Baingana cut the ribbon at Rumbugu

The school’s 400-odd pupils now have a safe, clean water source, when before they had to drink from a polluted clay pit, or walk for miles to collect water, missing classes and exams. They now have ample and hygienic toilet facilities, when before they had to share a single, squalid toilet. The girls now have a dedicated changing room, when before they had to miss school when they had their monthly period.

This project benefitted from fundraising that so many of our donors took part in – the St Peter’s Church group, the Walk for Water and several other crucial donations that are literally life-saving for the people living in this rural and isolated part of Uganda.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, we have found that during this year the demands of refugee and war-related crises have drawn funds from our main supporting charity, TearFund, who have unexpectedly been unable to access funding for us this year. Hence in parallel with this appeal we are redoubling our efforts to access funding for new projects, directly to the Support Group. We are appealing to our wonderful existing donors to consider:

  • Making a new regular standing order
  • Topping up an existing standing order
  • Making a one-off donation
  • Asking others they know if they would consider becoming part of our supporter base.

To find out how to take out or update a standing order, please visit our donate page. From here, you can also make online donations.

St Peter’s group returns from inspiring project visit in Uganda

We are pleased to welcome back the 18-strong group from St Peter’s church in Bishop’s Waltham, who spent two weeks in Uganda visiting and working on the Rumbugu project, and engaging with the WATSAN staff team and beneficiaries.St Peters volunteers help local people carry materials to the project

The group set off on 17th August 2017 after more than a year of preparations and fundraising to support WATSAN’s Rumbugu project and their travel costs. They were led by Reverend James Hunt and included nine young people and nine “young at heart” from the church’s congregation. They were accompanied by WATSAN Chair Ian Bensted, and given an extremely warm welcome by the project Director Eric Baingana and his staff team, as well as Rukungiri’s Bishop Benon Magezi. They were hosted in Rukungiri at the farm of former WATSAN Director Eric Kamuteera and his wife Adrine.

The group’s primary work was to help the local WATSAN team finish construction of some new toilets at Rumbugu primary school, which serves 400 children, and also to help construct the protection for two springs that now provide clean water for a local village. In addition, they also worked on a spring at Katete (pictured), provided some consultancy advice to three hydro-electric plants, visited a mission hospital, supported some health and hygiene education sessions, helped lead church services with hundreds and even thousands of people, spent time with some orphaned and disabled children, and finally, put on various activity days for well over 1,000 children and young people.

In particular, the group were lucky enough to attend the commissioning ceremony for the project in Rumbugu, to which they contributed the majority of the funds, and helped physically complete. During the ceremony Bishop Benon formally blessed and opened the rainwater tanks, latrines and demonstration facilities (tippy taps, ‘modern’ dish drying racks and compost pits) in front of the entire school, their parents, WATSAN staff, community leadership and local government representatives. If you contributed towards the fundraising, you can be assured that your generosity is received with heartfelt gratitude and appreciation from the local community.

Writing on behalf of all the WATSAN trustees, Secretary Ellie Bensted comments: “We were really delighted to hear that your visit to the project has gone so well. Our most sincere thanks to you for your fundraising, without which it would not have been possible to complete the Rumbugu project in this timespan, and for joining in with everything on offer with such enthusiasm and dedication to the WATSAN cause. As you can hardly have failed to notice, the WATSAN team just loved having you all there, as did Eric and Adrine and family and the Bishops Dan and Benon, who work so hard for WATSAN!”

Reflecting on the trip, Reverend James Hunt comments: “We went to Uganda and were able to help a little, but we have all received back rather more in return. And so now we are back, my prayer for the team and for myself, is that we might in the future be a little more Ugandan than UK!”

Whilst they were in Uganda the group kept an excellent and comprehensive journal of their activities and reflections (plus great photos!), which can be found here. Please do have a read!

WATSAN’s 2016 annual report is published

The WATSAN trustees are delighted to introduce WATSAN’s most recent annual report – a slightly expanded edition that hopefully gives our donors a few more insights into the work of WATSAN, which of course would not be possible without their generous support.

Cover of annual report

The full annual report can be viewed online here, or downloaded as a PDF here.

As always, when looking back at what we have achieved, we in WATSAN’s UK Support Group are struck by the continuing need for better water and sanitation. In Uganda today, many thousands of people still collect their water from muddy holes, and often have to walk several kilometres to collect it. Lack of safe, dignified facilities inevitably leads to ill health, preventing children from attending school and enjoying the success that could lift them out of poverty.

WATSAN’s UK Support Group has very close connections with the small staff team that carry out the charity’s work on the ground in Uganda. After a recent trip to the area, one of our trustees, Graham Piper, remarked particularly on the dedication, skill and compassion he observed in our friends in the project area.

As you’ll see from the stories in this report, our partners in the Ugandan team don’t just have the skill of the craftsman or engineer. Crucially, they have the interpersonal abilities and community connections to work in partnership, resolve conflicts, and get local people to buy into and take ownership of the schemes we are building – ensuring they will remain useful well into the future.

The trustees receive detailed quarterly reports on all of this activity. Good governance locally is also ensured by the oversight of a management committee, and fully audited annual accounts. Furthermore, during 2016, the staff team participated in an internal evaluation exercise supervised by local district water engineers.

Through our work we are reminded of how bringing safe, clean water into an area brings wider benefits. In Burema School for example, not long after WATSAN completed a project in 2014, enrolments doubled, and the numbers of pupils obtaining top exam grades tripled. New expert staff are willing to take jobs in schools or health centres because they now have acceptable facilities.

Looking ahead, the trustees are enthusiastic about funds being raised through our 2017 Walk for Water, which will enable much-needed work to be completed on Rumbugu Primary School, as well as a visit to the project by a team from
St Peter’s Church in Bishop’s Waltham. We do hope these and other fundraising success stories in this report are inspiration for how we can continue to extend our support, love and hope to communities in South-Western Uganda.

View the full annual report online