Bringing Clean Water and Sanitation to Northern Uganda

The Canada-Uganda Rotary Connection
In early 2013, two seemingly unrelated events happened two continents away, which will forever change the lives of two communities in Northern Uganda.
In February 2013, Rotarian Ron Denham, then Chair of the Water & Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG), made a stirring call-to-action to the Rotary Inter City Conference in Lira, Northern Uganda. Ron stressed that successful implementation of water and sanitation projects depends on the involvement of the local community. Crucial to the success and sustainability of such projects are local needs assessments, local ownership of the project, and use of local materials and talents.
Plastic tanks to be used as reservoir tanks in Barlonyo
Martin Ogang of the Rotary Club of Kampala responded to the call. He immediately invited some Rotarians to lunch in his nearby village home, They discussed how to bring water and sanitation to their community, Aloi, which had suffered so badly from the decades-long conflict. That group, together with other Rotarians, created a project plan following the guidelines of the Uganda Rotary Water Plus Committee for submission as a Global Grant to Rotary International.

On March 8, 2013,  Martin Ogang travelled to Canada and happened to visit the Rotary Club of Toronto. He heard a new member, Lorna Pitcher, being introduced. Martin’s ears picked up when he heard that Lorna had recently been awarded a Paul Harris Award by Past RI President Wilf Wilkinson at a dinner held by the Rotary Club of Kitchener-Conestoga for her work in Northern Uganda.
That very week, Rotarians Martin and Lorna were doing what good Rotarians do around the world year round……they collaborated. Out of this meeting grew a combined WASH project Global Grant application to Rotary International to bring water and sanitation to Aloi and the nearby village of Barlonyo.
Barlonyo lives in infamy as the site where rebels burned the village to the ground and massacred 301 villagers.  Rotarian Lorna’s Canadian charity, Children of Hope Uganda had built a vocational school and a nursery school there in 2010 and 2012.
Following Ron Denham’s message about local ownership, the Rotary Club of Lira, 45 minutes from the project sites, joined the Rotary Club of Kampala as Co-Host clubs. Support and advice from the Rotary Club of Lira was fundamental to the success of this combined project, which received approval from the Uganda Rotary Water Plus Committee in the Summer of 2013.
Borehole drilling finished in Barlonyo
The next most important step was to find an International Sponsor club.  Past District Governor of District 7080, Rotarian Ian Ferguson was contacted. With his enthusiastic support, Rotarian June Oliver, Chair of the International Service Committee of Rotary Club of Oakville-Trafalgar, just west of Toronto, took on the mammoth task of raising approximately $130,000 in club contributions to attract matching funds for the total budget of US $449,500.
Mission accomplished. The project is 100% funded with contributions from 26 clubs in Canada, USA and Uganda. The Rotary Club of Oakville-Trafalgar, led by June Oliver and incoming International Service Chair, Claire Conway, is to be congratulated for their herculean efforts since October, 2013.
The WASH Northern Uganda Project (GG 1417461)
The principal objectives of the Grant are to improve access to safe and adequate water for students and the community as well as improve their access to sanitation facilities. It also aims at increasing school completion rate for girls. It also plans to create awareness of sustainable hygiene practices and sanitation behavior and building local capacity to sustainably manage water and sanitation facilities. Finally, it creates income generating opportunities for the local community.
In terms of beneficiaries, it is estimated that following project implementation,over 6,600 people will be liberated from queuing for hours to get water. They will also benefit from reduction in sanitation related diseases. Over 1,600 students will have adequate latrine stances and hand washing facilities. About 400 women will secure micro-finance to facilitate their small scale businesses.

The project implements encompasses two of the areas of focus of Rotary International:  water and sanitation, and economic and community development.
The project involves deploying solar powered systems to pump water from underground to reservoir tanks and distribute the same to consumers through gravity. This will be supplemented by rain water harvesting tanks. Squat toilets with water taps in stances will be used for cleaning and flushing. The project provides for 19 stances in Barlonyo and 44 stances in Aloi. A biogas production system will turn solid human waste to a form which can be used as energy for cooking as well as fertilizer to increase crop yields.. There will be hygiene education campaigns conducted before, during and after physical project implementation. There is a component of micro-finance loans and tree planting which will help the Community generate income

Financing Plan
Solar power water supply system
Blocks of flush toilet buildings - 50
Rain water harvesting tank
Reservoir tank & solar pump station
Borehole drilling and pipe laying
Solar power for lighting
Biogas digesting system
Behavioural change campaign
Other expenses
Project Management - see note below
The amount of $37,115 for project management includes
$10,000 for a revolving fund for lending to community members for tree planting
$25,000 for seed funding for micro-finance Income Generating Activities
Way Forward
On April 28, WASRAG Chair Emeritus, Ron Denham visited Barlonyo to witness the RI certification of the Rotary Community Corps by the Presidents of the Kampala and Lira Rotary clubs. Ron was then warmly welcomed by the Aloi RCC and whole community.
In the short 14 months since Ron’s call-to-action at the Lira Inter-City Conference in Lira in February, 2013 to his enthusiastic greeting by the villagers in April, 2014 many good Rotarians in three countries have worked tirelessly to bring clean water and sanitation to these villages in war-torn northern Uganda.
In late May, Dr. Andrea Oess, of Econsult, Geneva will make site visits to Barlonyo and Aloi to consult with the co-operating organizations about the location and technical details of the planned facilities.
At the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony those involved received the heart-felt appreciation from the villagers of Barlonyo and Aloi.  Bravo, Rotary!