Uganda: Water for Adjumani

One of the new boreholes in Adjumani. Photo: LWF Uganda
One of the new boreholes in Adjumani. Photo: LWF Uganda

LWF Installs Solar Pumps to Improve Water Supply

(LWI) – Without water, the classrooms in Ayilo refugee camp remain empty. The simple equation is explained by the headmaster of Ayilo2A primary school in Adjumani district, Uganda.

“The lack of a water facility at the school is a very big problem leading to poor attendance,” he says. “Instead of going to school, the students spend their day looking for water. The hygiene in the school latrines also has been compromised by lack of water, the latrines are always dirty, and of course we don’t have hand washing facilities,” he names but some of the challenges his school is facing. The 1,400 students in Ayilo2A Primary School will be among the many beneficiaries from the borehole motorization process in the three settlements. Initiated by The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in December 2014, the project is now in its final stages.

Adjumani district in Northern Uganda hosts close to 104,000 refugees, most of them people who fled from South Sudan since fighting broke out in December 2013. They now live in one of the nine settlements which together make up the cluster of the Adjumani refugee camps. LWF assistance includes multi-sectorial projects serving refugees and host communities, namely Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Livelihoods and Environment, Community services, Protection and Psychosocial Support, and Peace Building.

Water Shortage

In August 2014, LWF signed an agreement with UNICEF to establish three motorized water systems to increase access to safe and clean water in Ayilo 2, Nyumanzi and Elema refugee settlements in Adjumani District. The agreement was signed in response to water shortage for domestic consumption. Until recently, safe water supply came mainly through deep wells and hand pumps, which had to be supplemented by water trucking.

The large population of refugees in the three settlements, and the poor underground water potential in Ayilo 2 and Elema camps especially resulted in long queues at water points. During the current dry spell boreholes dried up and others’ yields were reduced. “Women spend a significant amount of time searching for water, sometimes leaving their homes at dawn, which is often cause for domestic tension,” LWF Country Representative for Uganda, Jesse Kamstra, says. “As a result, children are often forced to support their parents in search of water, which directly impacts their schooling. The daily personal and domestic hygiene practices of the refugees are affected too”.

20 liters of water is the daily minimum the UNHCR recommends for a refugee to have available for drinking, cooking and hygiene. “In Adjumani, ensuring this amount has always been a challenge,” James Drichi, LWF Adjumani Water Engineer, says. According to UNHCR figures in October 2014, refugees in Adjumani had 16 liters of drinking water at their disposal. Therefore LWF decided to upgrade some of the boreholes and improve their yield by installing motorized pumps in Ayilo2 and Njumanzi camps. The pumps are powered by solar power with a standby generator for backup.

20 Liters Minimum

In both camps, a high-yield borehole was identified and upgraded with a motorized pump. The pumps run on solar power, with a generator for back-up to ensure water supply eight hours a day. The pump in Njumanzi draws 7.6 cubic meters of water per hour, thereby serving the daily minimum of 20 liters per day to 3,040 people. The water is elevated to a new set of tanks which holds 70 cubic meters, and then fed into 2.1 kilometers of newly installed distribution line. Eight new tap stands with six taps each provide water supply for two blocks in the settlement. Nyumanzi 1 Primary School, a Child Friendly Space and the Nyumanzi Settlement Community Centre each received a tap stand of their own.

In Elema settlement, LWF has agreed with other agencies to tap water from the OXFAM motorized water system distribution line in Elema. The water will be stored in a 5 cubic metre capacity plastic reservoir tank erected at Elema Health Centre and distributed to Elema Health Centre II, Elema Primary School and the neighboring host community. Each of the three locations is supported with a tap stand of 6 distribution taps.

Improving School Discipline

2,000 people in Ayilo2 camp will benefit from the new pump which sources 5 cubic meters per hour, distributed over 2.1 kilometers of pipes and seven new tap stands. The distribution line covers three blocks including three Child Friendly Spaces, the settlements’ Health Clinic and also Ayilo 2A Primary School, whose headmaster is already looking forward to having water easily available.

“The availability of water at the school will help improve pupil’s attendance and hygiene conditions among the sanitation facilities and pupils,” he says. “It will also promote discipline. When children go out to look for water it interferes with the teaching and they also fight along the way. If we have a tap stand nearby, the children will no longer be allowed to move out of the school before time”.

World Water Day 2015