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Luweero district abandons solar powered mini water schemes

A borehole at Katumu Primary School in Luweero town. The district has scaledown on construction of boreholes and instead asked NWSC to extend piped water in villages

Luweero, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  Luweero district has stopped the construction of solar-powered mini-water schemes citing high cost and low coverage.  

The schemes were introduced in 2016 to address water shortages in the district, and to replace shallow wells and deep boreholes, which were initially, the main water technologies used in the district.  

Under the scheme, a motorized borehole and a reservoir was constructed to distribute water to three or more points and ease pressure on other facilities. The district needed over 200 million Shillings for each scheme. However, Luweero District Chairman Ronald Ndawula says this has been found to be expensive.  

Ndawula says that they have instead approached National Water and Sewerage Corporation to facilitate the extension of piped water to rural areas.  Ndawula adds that they also intend to tap water from other water systems in towns like Busiika, Semuto and Kapeeka instead of constructing other mini-water schemes or boreholes.   

Luweero District Water Engineer Joseph Kanyike says that this financial year 2019/20, the district will facilitate NWSC to lay pipes across a distance of 40 kilometers in different sub counties. Kanyike explains that Butuntumula, Zirobwe, Makulubita and Kikyusa sub counties have been earmarked to benefit in the project where they intend to inject 200 million Shillings to extend piped water in the villages.

Kanyike added that they stopped constructing mini-water schemes because they found out some motorized boreholes couldn’t produce enough water to sustain them. Kanyike however notes they will continue to dig a few boreholes in areas where National Water coverage may not  supply.  

The plan has evoked mixed reactions from local leaders and residents.

Samuel Mugerwa, one of the residents’ fears that some households may not afford the cost of piped water, and may instead resort to valley dams which provide unsafe water. Mugerwa wants National Water to be limited to towns so that the district can continue digging boreholes in villages until the households can afford.    

But Ibrahim Muwonge the Luweero District Councilor says that the mini-water schemes needed solar power which was not also reliable and they served water within a limited area.  

Ronald Kisakye, the Manager of National Water and Sewerage Corporation confirmed the extensions to rural areas but could not divulge details of the plan. However, he was recently quoted saying that they had constructed another water reservoir and sunk three boreholes at 1.3 billion Shillings at Nsozibirye hill at Katikamu sub-county to increase water supply.  

About 40 percent of the residents in Luweero have no access to safe water and at least 100 boreholes break down per year. The district has capacity to repair only 50 boreholes and construct 16 others.

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