Access to clean and safe drinking water is fundamental to survival (a basic human right). Safe, potable water prevents illnesses and disease transmission and when used properly, maintains the health of individuals and families. Salama SHIELD Foundation is dedicated to improving access to safe water in the communities where we work. Lyantonde District (Uganda) is located in the so-called “dry corridor” where drought is frequently experienced. Incorporated within our other programs (eg., Finance for Life and the Micro-credit revolving loan program), SSF systematically endeavors to raise awareness of WASH procedures (water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management), and organizes learning sessions in rural-based communities on food preparation and hygiene practices, hand washing, and safe water management. Intentional interventions are also made in environmental protection: women are taught to construct and use energy saving stoves; they are also supported in the planting of fruit trees (mango, orange, and avocado). For example, our team will instruct women in the building of drying racks, pit latrines, tippy-taps (a jerry can filled with water attached to a tree permitting hand-washing after using the latrine), and water harvesting. Some of the women in the MCRL program, for example, organized themselves as a group of 3 families to invest in a water tank where they collected and stored rainwater for domestic use.
Currently, Salama SHIELD Foundation (SSF) has dug three bore-holes in the community. The one borehole located at the perimeter of the Community Development Centre (CDC) services 150 families per day. Each 20 litre jerry-can is sold for a little less than US $1.00. SSF also constructed commercial water tanks (10,000 and 15,000 litres) at 6 government aided schools in Lyantonde District. The water is used by the students for school use. 35 hand-washing facilities were also given out by SSF to 35 schools in Lyantonde District to increase WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) practices among students. The SSF team regularly follows-up on these WASH activities and programs to ensure positive behavioural change in efficient water use.
In the future, SSF plans to explore other innovative options in water collection and distribution. With a donated water truck, we would be prepared to distribute water to location points throughout the town, or more importantly, in the rural areas where water is a scarce and a limited resource. Rural villagers often collect the only available water in springs which are not protected: i.e., water sources where animals come to drink and then defecate, thereby contaminating the water. In the future, we intend to partner with appropriate technology initiatives that filter unsafe water collections and transform unsafe water into potable water.
Ground water collection is linked to permaculture training and practices, an initiative currently underway with two community-based groups that SSF supports in Malawi (Lilongwe District).
Climate change is affecting the agricultural practices and water security systems in much of Sub-Saharan Africa. Without an appropriate response to this burgeoning crisis, we will be faced with strife, dissent, and unprecedented conflict in the years to come. Appropriate WASH interventions will mitigate this eventuality.