Director’s Christmas Message 2014
As Tacitus perceptively said, “ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant”– “when they make a desert they call it peace”. It is arguable that, had he been alive today, Cornelius Tacitus would have applied his bon mot to the situation for rural water in Africa. For in 2012 The UN proudly declared that the Millennium Development Goal for water had been achieved. They said that 70% of rural people now had “access” to clean water sources. However, they overlooked one simple question. How many of these sources are actually functioning? If when you come to “access” your water source, you find that it produces no water, it is no better than a mirage in the desert. Indeed, your last state is worse than your first. Your hopes were raised, you and your children enjoyed safe water for a season, and yet now you, and they, are prey to all the water borne diseases for which your immunity has now been reduced. In Uganda, foul water remains the biggest cause of sickness and death among the young and vulnerable. To make matters worse local government budgets for the servicing and restoring of rural water sources are so small that each year more wells are being lost than repaired. Likewise, local government budgets for new sources cannot keep pace with the increase in population. Thus what Tacitus would observe as he drank from his Roman aqueduct and washed in his Roman baths, is that, in rural Africa, a disaster is unfolding. Instead of the healing waters of health and peace, as called by the UN, he would observe a creeping desert of waterless water sources.
The Busoga Trust recognises that, while the voluntary approach to maintenance has worked for some, for too many – some 50% – it has not. What is needed is the backup of a paid team of professionals who will make their living by ensuring that each well in their estate is working 24/7 and that standards of hygiene in their communities are steadily improving.
It is our dream that where we are working, in one small corner of Africa, instead of a creeping desert of waterless wells there will be a spreading oasis of accessible and functioning water sources. To achieve this we remain, as before, hopefully reliant on the great British public. Thanks!
“waters shall break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert” Isaiah 35:06