Would you drink water that cows have contaminated?
Clean drinking water was unknown to James and Scovia Wandira and to very many families in Nakasongola, north of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. Contaminated water and poor sanitation are everyday issues. There are many challenges for James and Scovia. Water is often scarce. Small ponds, known as water dams, frequently have cows drinking from them and often dry up. And bore holes can produce salty, hard water and also dry up.
So James, Scovia and their 9 children have then to resort to drinking lake water. This water is dirty, brown and turbid. Cows wade into it to drink, humans bathe and wash their clothes, children swim and animals and humans defecate in it.
Scovia is scared of drinking the lake water – but there is no alternative. It’s hardly surprising that her family has experienced diarrhoea, dysentery and even typhoid. But many Ugandans think lake water is safe as there is a huge volume of water in the lake and a relatively small amount of pollution!
A Rocha Uganda set out to change things. The best thing A Rocha Uganda has done for James, Scovia and their family is to provide them with a bio-sand water filter. James and Scovia were trained in the correct use and maintenance of the water filter. Instead of drinking contaminated water and suffering the consequences, they can now rely on a regular supply of clean, clear, safe water. Polluted water goes into the filter but clean drinking water, several hundred litres of it, is available every day. And this filtered water also enables their food to cook quicker and clothes to wash better. Soap bubbles were something they hadn’t experienced before!
She used to be scared of using lake water but now Scovia is confident that it will become safe to drink when it is properly filtered through her bio-sand water filter. The entire family are now much healthier thanks to their new supply of clean water. And another benefit is that they need far less wood from the forest for fuel to boil water.
Story by Angela McKay, A Rocha International’s Environmental Education Coordinator. November 2017