Bugembe – Micro Credit for Sanitation

 

Bugembe – Micro Credit for Sanitation

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Click any of the pictures to watch a short film on the project

The often inadequate sanitary facilities found in the peri-urban settlements of developing countries are themselves a direct cause of unnecessary and often fatal ill health. Especially at risk are children under the age of five whose underdeveloped immune systems are simply unable to cope with the all too common bacterial infections that arise from drinking contaminated water. Those infections are the second largest global killer of children under 5, something BT, and the residents of Bugembe, have been working hard to combat.

During the ‘International Year of Sanitation’ The UN Human Settlement Programme (UN Habitat) partnered with BT in signing a Cooperation Agreement to implement a comprehensive sanitation project in Bugembe, a large peri-urban settlement on the shores of Lake Victoria. The scheme was designed to be implemented using a unique, micro credit for sanitation model, or MICROSAN for short.

The goal of the MICROSAN scheme was to facilitate access to improved and affordable sanitation facilities for up to 900 poor, female headed households. To date over 230 stances have been constructed benefiting some 400 households, close to 50% of the overall target.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the BT Bugembe staff, and the willingness of the community to engage in the project, there have been significant advances made in the fight against disease and ill health. In the words of Stephen Wante, Mayor of Bugembe, “There has been a 30% reduction in hospital usage, 2 years of not having cholera, not one case in the community, beneficiaries can be heard on the radio sharing the joy in what they have achieved through this project”

Local resident and project beneficiary, Salma Ahmed, highlighted another way in which MICROSAN was helping community members to adopt formal structures, ‘before joining the project, I was intimidated with keeping money in the bank. However, as a result of the project, I learnt the importance of using the bank and saving’.  The more people work toward protecting their finances the easier the fight against poor sanitation becomes.

What is abundantly clear in Bugembe is the positive force that surrounds the MICROSAN project, working in harmony with the local community the project has managed to deliver on BT’s vision, that of a healthier, more prosperous community. Perhaps most importantly, the project will have a lasting, positive effect on Bugembe’s exuberant youth population. The headmistress of Vic View, the largest privately owned primary school in Bugembe shared her story on a recent trip to the BT offices, “there was an overpowering stench which oozed from our (old) pit latrines, this antagonized our neighbours and kept the children away from school. The pit latrines were unmanageable and there was no water, children always contracted diarrhoea.