As Uganda went into lockdown due to the pandemic on 31st March 2020, the President of Uganda made a plea to his District Officers and water agencies to "prioritise the repair of non-functional boreholes, to ensure that the population in your respective areas access clean water".
Busoga Trust immediately responded and what we found was astonishing. Thousands of boreholes previously drilled across many Districts in rural Uganda were entirely non-functional. Many of the boreholes were originally installed with plastic parts which break easily or with galvanised iron parts which rust quickly in Uganda's volcanic waters. With only a voluntary plan for maintenance and without any funds for repair, this has led to boreholes becoming completely redundant. Many NGOs and agencies have been and gone and left thousands of the most vulnerable people in Uganda without the clean, safe water they once enjoyed.
From this point, Busoga Trust made a commitment, "to repair each and every borehole we come across, no matter who originally installed it, to bring back clean water to those communities who have suffered so much". But we didn't stop there. Alongside a "new" shiny borehole, rehabilitated with the best quality and long lasting stainless steel parts, Busoga Trust's Community Development Officers worked with communities to improve their latrines and build hand washing stations to increase standards of hygiene and sanitation. Further, Busoga Trust conducted workshops in Menstrual Hygiene Management for women and girls, created tree nurseries for communities to grow their own fruit and improve the environment, and in some cases provided beehives.
If borehole functionality is a problem, how does Busoga Trust ensure the boreholes continue to provide clean, safe water?
For Busoga Trust to implement a borehole rehabilitation in a community, the community must commit to our "Payment By Results" (PBR) programme. This programme employs a hand-pump mechanic to routinely maintain up to 30 boreholes in their catchment area. The households in a community who benefit from a water source much each pay a monthly fee of 1000 Ugandan shillings per month (approximate 25 pence) to be able to use the borehole. This money is saved up for when a breakdown occurs. We now have 1,000 communities enrolled onto our PBR programme, and our target call out time when there is a breakdown is just 2 hours!
Since April 2020, we have rehabilitated over 1,000 boreholes. These boreholes now provide clean, safe water to over 450,000 rural Ugandans. Alongside improved hygiene and sanitation, this means that children no longer have to walk miles to collect water from dirty lakes and stagnant ponds. It means they don't get sick from contaminated water and they can spend more time in school. It means they have a better future.
What does it cost?
The majority of the cost of a new borehole is in the drilling - often costs can be from £7,000 - £11,000 per borehole. However, as the boreholes we have been rehabilitating are usually perfectly drilled, we only need to fundraise for the cost of the installation of the new best quality stainless steel parts, the hygiene and sanitation training, and tree planting. The total cost of our full rehabilitation package is £2,500.
How many non-functional boreholes exist Uganda?
At the beginning of the pandemic, we calculated that there were approximately 20,000 non-functional boreholes in Uganda (which means approximately 9 million people no longer had access to the clean water they once enjoyed!). We therefore believe that there are still 19,000 boreholes which require rehabilitation.
I'd like to help!
If you would like to help us bring clean, water back to communities in Uganda, please get in touch! You can make a donation directly on our website or you could fundraise for us. If you fund a borehole rehabilitation, a plaque will be installed at the water source with thanks to you, your club or group, and you will receive a full report of where the borehole is located, how many people have benefitted, and testimonials from community members.