Commenting on the overall progress of the W4V project in Uganda, the Project Officer Sarah Kigongo says, “So far so good. The construction of 12 rain water harvesting tanks (RWHTs) of 30m3 with water catchment roofs and water collection chambers has successfully been completed and water is already flowing in the 10 villages of Nzogera, Kabande, Ruchantege, Rukeri, Musasa and Kabonero in Nyarusiza and Gishondori, Chana, Kanombe Main, Nyagacence Main, Ntebeko, Mbuga and Gahinga neighboring Mgahinga Gorilla National Park”.
Sarah adds that 96 members of the water and sanitation committees including the Local Council I leaders in all the villages were trained in their operation and maintenance roles and responsibilities, national park conservation, sanitation and hygiene, safe water chain, conflict resolution, effective communication, bye – laws and constitution making, collection and management of water user fees, as well as village savings and loans associations for general group development. The training that targeted about 50% women, 50% men also had Batwa representation – Serutoki Steven from Rukeri village participated and presented the views of the minority groups in the area.
The water and sanitation committees comprising of 8 members each (3-4 being female) are responsible for the overall supervision, management and maintenance of the water facilities.
According to the Project Officer the main objective of the training was to equip committee members with knowledge and skills on their roles and responsibilities to enable them effectively manage and maintain the rain water harvesting tanks.
Several outputs including development of an operations and maintenance action plan stipulating all the activities to be done, how, when and by who, bye-laws to help guide in the management of the water facilities and a constitution stipulating how everything about the water project will be handled were registered during the training.
Sarah attributes the realization of these key milestones to the good working relationship and collaboration with the Kisoro district and the Muramba and Nyarusiza sub county (s)technical staff as well as the support of the local communities and teamwork among the W4V consortium partners.
Giving his remarks at the training the Local Council III Chairperson of Muramba Subcounty Mr. Nzabona Francis expressed gratitude for the all-round training, “on behalf of the government we are very grateful for this kind of training. I initially thought that you were only going to tell people about sanitation and boiling drinking water, but I am surprised and impressed that you have touched even very sensitive and important topics like conflict resolution”.
Commenting on the importance and relevance of the newly constructed water tanks, 55-year-old Kwizera Jenina says “the provision of water tanks in the community comes as a relief to the women and children. We have suffered for so long trekking long distances to the park for water and treating recurrent illnesses acquired from consumption of unsafe water. At least now the water burden is going to reduce, and we shall have time for other domestic chores. Thanks to the funders and implementors of this project”
Water4Virungas is a trans-boundary project funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands through the Dutch Embassy in Rwanda aimed at providing safe and clean water to the communities around the Virungas as a way of reducing human presence in the park and managing conflict between the park and the community, and sometimes amongst the community itself and service providers.