It is amazing how the things one would consider normal and not a big deal can mean everything to another person. The testimonies from the water users in Buhoma, Kanungu district where IGCP/Sida has supported the construction of rainwater harvesting tanks are humbling and encouraging too. “Thank you God for bringing these miracle working people in our community, notes Agatha Ndyanabo a member of the water tank management committee in Sarugyera village, while, eighty years old Jane Kabihogo of Karuhura village adds that “Since I was born I have never seen such a wonderful tank in my village. It is surely God sent and I thank IGCP, Buhoma Mukono Community Development Association (BMCDA) and Uganda Wildlife Authority for thinking about us”.
BMCDA with support from IGCP and funding from Sida through WWF – Sweden under the Leading the Changeproject have constructed five communal rainwater harvesting tanks in two villages (Sarugyera and Karuhura) around Bwindi Impenetrable national park.
The aim is to bring safe and clean water closer to the park adjascent community around Bwindi in an attempt to reduce their presence in the park. Reduced human presence in the park guarantees conservation of the mountain gorillas and their habitat and also minimizes conflict with the park and among the community themselves. In the past women and children used to trek about 5kms everyday to fetch water from open unprotected wells in the valleys and forest. Children often went to school with jerrycans in the morning to fetch water in the evening after school. This would affect their performance and concentration at school. According to the community a household uses about 80 Liters of water a day, so, the water collected was never enough. Agatha says bathing was a luxury and considered wastage of water, so cooking and drinking were the priorities.
Commenting on this action the board chairperson for BMCDA, Richard Ngabirano says, each tank has a capacity of 30,000 litres and is expected to serve about 20-30 households. He adds that, bringing safe and clean water closer should make frontline villages appreciate the benefits of conservation and encourage them to participate. Richard is also optimistic that late coming and absenteeism of pupils is yet to be a story of the past. Hopefully even the rampart domestic violence cases caused by failure to fetch enough water for the family head to shower are also going to decrease. Women reveal that quite often they are assaulted by their husbands or quarrel a lot over their failure to fetch enough water for the family.