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Water crisis hits Nakivale refugee settlement

Water queues.

Isingiro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Nakivale refugee settlement in Isingiro district is facing a severe water crisis due to the high number of refugees fleeing the fighting between Congolese forces and M23 rebels.

Nakivale refugee settlement is home to over 150,000 refugees mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Rwanda among other countries.

The most affected is Rubondo zone in Nakivale refugee settlement, which is home to hundreds of new refugees. Women and children form most of the queues at the five water points that supply water from Lake Nakivale.

Some of the refugees say that they now have to buy a jerry can of water for between Shillings 1000 and 2000. They say that they are also asked to pay Shillings 1000 at the available water points, which forces them to fetch water from swamps and dams.

Justine Ggoza, the Assistant Commandant Rubondo refugee zone confirms the challenge of water scarcity noting that clean water is supplied twice a week. He says that the new arrivals with one or two jerry cans are the most affected in the settlement.

Peter Kakuru, the project manager of Nsamizi Training Institute, the lead agency implementing the gravity water supply in Nakivale and Oruchinga refugee settlements confirms that they are facing a challenge with water.

He blames the crisis on the increasing numbers of refugees and the lack of funds to pump and extend piped water to everyone in the settlement.

Junior Maarifa, the refugee welfare council III in Nakivale settlement, says that the water supply is insufficient compared to the current refugee population noting that there are endless queues at the water points. He says they have resorted to giving water in intervals on specific days for different zones.

Maarifa confirms that refugees are paying to access the water. He explains that the money is meant for maintenance costs to ensure the availability of water.

Aaron Turahi, the Isingiro district LCV chairperson, says that water scarcity is faced by both Nakivale and Oruchinga refugee settlements. He has called for increased funding for water and sanitation as a solution to the problem of the concerned agencies.

He says the district has a small budget for the supply of water in the settlement areas of less than Shillings 100 million.

Kakuru says there is a long time solution for water supply that will be provided by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation, which awaits implementation in the nearest future. The project will supply the settlement with water from the Kagera River.

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