Provision of Safe and Clean Water as a means of Mountain Gorilla Conservation

“We have suffered for a long time with the lack of safe and clean water sources. Often, we trek long distances to the Park for water, foregoing a lot of other chores. Our children go late to school because they have to first help out with fetching enough water for the day. On average a household uses 80 litres of water a day. When we can’t make it to the park we resort to open ponds within the community. Unfortunately, cows and goats also drink from the same ponds, the hygiene around them is also wanting. Although we boil the water our children are always sick because the water is just not safe. But with the Sida -IGCP support we have hope that it shall soon be well. With the four community tanks so far constructed in the villages, we shall finally have access to safe and clean water” shares Tumusiime Fausta.

 One of the newly constructed rain water harvesting tanks, Photo Credit: Wellard Makambo|IGCP

One of the newly constructed rain water harvesting tanks. Photo Credit: Wellard Makambo|IGCP

Park adjacent communities around Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are often challenged by access to safe and clean water. They rely on the water sources inside the park for water and at times open ponds in the community. Although sometimes some individuals have used water as an excuse to enter the park and deplete other resources. This frequent human presence in the park is not safe for the wildlife let alone the habitat, but, again the choices of the community are limited since the open ponds outside the park are dirty. They are also worsened by the poor disposal of human waste and poor/shallow construction of pit latrines that often pour out into them. And as a result of all this there are increased cases of typhoid fever in the Nkuringo community. Buying water ferried from other villages on the other hand is expensive as a 20 Liters jerrycan goes for about 2000Ugx (0.5$) implying that a household needs 8000 Ugx to purchase 80 liters of water which a household uses on average daily.  This is not money the local communities can afford. So, trekking to the park becomes the only solution.

Open pond sometimes used by the community, Photo Credit: Salvatrice Musabyeyezu|IGCP

Open pond sometimes used by the community. Photo Credit: Salvatrice Musabyeyezu|IGCP

According to Faustin a mother in Nkuringo a person takes about 3-4 hours to and from the water source. Faustin adds that it is very risky as well because they are treading in the territory of wild animals that can harm them. Julius a community member in Nkuringo and also Administrator Nkuringo Community Conservation Development Foundation (NCCDF) says during the dry season the water levels go down, and it becomes difficult to draw this water, and even worse for children because they can fall inside these wells in the process.

In appreciation of all this and in the bid to conserve the park and the wildlife therein, NCCDF with both technical and financial support from IGCP has constructed four community rain water harvesting tanks with capacity of 30,000 litres each in the front-line villages of Kikobero, Kaholire, Nombe and Nyabaremura around Bwindi Impenetrable forest. The water tanks were originally identified as priority needs by these communities through a Community Based Planning process.  This action is expected to help reduce conflict between the park and the community ensuring conservation for the habitat and wildlife and also provide safe and clean water to the communities. A win-win situation is what it is, very healthy for conservation and necessary for the park adjacent communities.

Commenting on the progress so far,Julius is grateful to Sida, IGCP and WWF for their support and particularly to the community for their contribution of the hard-core aggregates and sand saying, “this is a demonstration of the community’s interest in the project and guarantees ownership and sustainability of it. It is our dream to have more tanks constructed in the villages because one tank per village isn’t sufficient enough for the over 1000 people in each village. We also plan to extend the same service to the remaining 6 villages because they are facing the same challenge”. NCCDF is a network of CBOs involved in various conservation activities around BINP, including arts and crafts, bee keeping, conservation education and conservation of indigenous forests among others.

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