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Water shortage hindering implementation of COVID-19 measures

FILE PHOTO: LCI chairman of Genda village in Luweero district says people  trek long distances to fetch water in wells.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Several residents in rural areas across greater Luweero are struggling to implement preventive measures of COVID-19 due to water shortage.

Recently President Yoweri Museveni directed that gatherings of more than five people is restricted in a move aimed at de-congesting public places in the fight against COVID 19.

The President and Ministry of Health also advised residents to wash hands with soap or sanitizers regularly among other measures. The people were also advised to stay in homes and observe social distancing to avoid contracting COVID-19.

But in Luweero, Nakasongola and Nakaseke districts several residents in rural areas say some of the measures are difficult to adhere to over non-functional boreholes.

Sebastian Kayizzi, the LCI chairman of Genda village in Luweero district says the two boreholes at the village broke down last year leaving 90 homesteads with no access to water.

Kayizzi adds that efforts to mobilize resources to repair them hit a snag over abject poverty among the residents and currently scores trek long distances to fetch water in wells.

Harriet Nakibuuka another resident of Kasiiso village in Btuntumula sub county says that after the borehole broke down there is overcrowding at another water source located at a distant school which is also risky and against the directive on physical distancing.

Sarah Bunnya the Headteacher of Kasiiso Church of Uganda Primary School says that the school borehole is overwhelmed with people who don’t contribute anything when it breaks down.

District Water Department reports indicate that over 220 boreholes are non-functional in Luweero and about 32% of residents have no access to clean water.

In Nakasongola at least 255 water sources and 253 water sources in Nakaseke districts were no longer functional.

As a result, the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Water and Environment Alfred Okot Okidi through his circular dated 31st March 2020 directed all Chief Administrative Officers across the Country to prioritize the repair of non-functional boreholes using district water grants.

Okidi says it will help to ensure that population access clean and observance of Presidential directives.

Luweero District Water Officer, Joseph Kanyike says they have received the circular and they are yet to discuss on how to proceed.

Kanyike, however, explained the district had low funding that is why some villages are still stuck with non-functional water sources.

In the financial year 2019/20, the water sector in Luweero was allocated only 613 million shillings.

Alex Felix Majeme the Nakasongola District Chief Administrative Officer says he needs time to consult the Ministry on the circular because they have already used the money as planned and the balance available will be used to pay contractors who are already on the ground doing the work.

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