The past, present and future of our safe water sources in Africa

The past, present and future of our safe water sources in Africa

After 30 years of operations we have come to a period of consolidation and, in some respects, reflection. Not in a self-satisfactory manner, but rather in an honest, open, warts’n’all assessment of what we have achieved, what we need to improve and in what direction we need to be moving in future years.

So we come to the rather Dickensian phrase of the title; we are looking to address our past, present and future work;

Past: It is unrealistic to expect a source, unless preventative maintenance systems are full proof, to not break down. The mark of a project’s sustainability is whether that source is repaired in the same sort of timely fashion as a plumber might repair a boiler in the UK. If we’re being brutally honest, we dropped the ball in terms of ensuring source functionality in recent years, due to cuts in statutory funding stretching our resources to breaking point. Now though, under the leadership of Director, Andrew Pearson, it is our strategic priority to return all our sources to fully functioning status. In the past 18 months we have rehabilitated over 100 sources, and will continue to do more, not just our own but any we find. We have also developed a partnership with Whave Solutions to provide better community management systems and ensure sustainability.

future managing disrepair of old wells 1future managing disrepair of old wells 2

Present: The reason so many sources fell into disrepair is that our monitoring system became a casualty of the funding cuts in turn of the millennium. Without regular check-ups on hand pump functionality and community management, some inevitably broke down. Thanks to a forward thinking funding partner, in 2013 we reinstated our Outrider system of routine monitoring. This involves a BT staff member on a motorbike travelling round our project areas performing routine checks on every water source we have constructed, at a frequency of every year or every two years. Think of it as the gas man coming round to read the meter. This ensures that gains in water, sanitation and hygiene are maintained. In their first year, they were charged with fully restoring our database and then using that data to map all the sources using WaterAid’s WaterPointMapper.

future access distance of a water source

Future: We will continue to provide safe water sources, basic sanitation and improved hygiene to communities in Uganda where they previously had nothing. The international development sector is a far more complex arena than when we started in 1982 but the core principle of providing water and protecting that resource remains a foundation stone of civilisation. We still rely on the support of people like you to help us provide this.

Our mission is far from complete; we have been on this road for three decades now but we can assure you that our resolve and stamina is strong and we are ready for the years and miles ahead. 

Having said that, we could always do with a bit more fuel in the tank, so if you’d like to donate, click here.