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Water Services: Why Rural Women Shouldn’t Take An Hour To Water Points :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Water Services: Why Rural Women Shouldn’t Take An Hour To Water Points

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Twaweza’s Sauti Za Wanainchi survey says while access to pipped water has increased across the country, women and girls in rural areas still take more time to access water points. Half of households (54%) take half an hour or more to collect their drinking water, including time spent traveling and time spent waiting. For one out of twenty households (5%), this takes over two hours. A similar proportion (46%) however spend less than 30 minutes collecting their water.
29 Oct 2020 15:19
A school girl draws water from underground water collection tank in Bundibugyo distict Credit Wambi Michael

Audio 4



Women and girls in rural areas take more than half an hour round trip to collect water according to a survey conducted between July and August this year.  It also that the main responsibility for collecting water continues to be borne by women and children.

Twaweza’s Sauti Za Wanainchi survey says while access to pipped water has increase in the country, women and girls in rural areas still take more time to access water points.

The survey brief titled; “Well-watered?" documented Ugandan citizens’ experiences and opinions on water, sanitation and hygiene among others focused on access to water, the types of water and how levels of access to clean and safe water changed over recent years.

Half of households (54%) take half an hour or more to collect their drinking water, including time spent traveling and time spent waiting. For one out of twenty households (5%), this takes over two hours. A similar proportion (46%) however spend less than 30 minutes collecting their water.

The survey conducted between July and August this year found the while the distance to clean points had reduced in urban Uganda, rural women and girls still take longer time for a round trip to water points according to Twaweza’s Sauti Za Wanainchi Program Officer Marie Nanyanzi.

She says households that had more access to piped water took less time to access to water compared to the rural poor that rely on other sources like boreholes and waters springs.

/// Cue in “In terms of average water collection time……

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“When we compare progress over the last one year, in 2019, thirty-seven percent of the households said that they were able to collect their water under thirty minutes. Come 2020, this number has gone to a 46%. So we see improvement in terms of those that can access water under thirty minutes” said Nanyanzi

While the survey highlights the inequality between rural and urban Uganda in terms of access to water, it also raises the gender implications of inequitable distribution of piped water supplies. 

Access to water activists and some water economists have been urging the Ministry of water and environment to consider the economic effects of reducing the time that women and girl take to water points.

According to UNICEF, the 200 million hours’ women and girls spend every day collecting water is a colossal waste of their valuable time. The UN children’s agency in 2016 stressed that the opportunity cost of lack of access to water disproportionately falls.

UNICEF found that collection of water can affect the health of the whole family, and particularly of children. When water is not available at home, even if it is collected from a safe source, the fact that it has to be transported and stored increases the risk that it is faecally contaminated by the time it is drunk.

Some experts have said that water collection from piped water distribution systems  in rural communities in in Africa and rest of Africa is not understood in much detail in terms of distances traveled to distribution points (DPs), volumes collected, times of day of collection.

 According to Marie Nanyanzi says in the case of Uganda, the disparity in terms of access to water points between rural and urban Uganda is likely to impacts on the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal for water and sanitation.

The SDG6 calls for universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water by 2030.  Water and Sanitation access activists say the first step towards that goal is to provide everyone with a basic service within a 30-minute round trip, and the long term goal is to ensure everyone has safe water available at home.

////Cue IN "So if you look at.......

“ Cue Out........is the piped water source ”////

The other option for women and girls to reduce on the trip to distant points would be to promote water harvesting technologies. But according to Marie Nanyanzi the survey found that water harvesting through big tanks has remained low.

“Uganda gets privilege to have good rains seasons that last quite a while. To some extent we find that communities are flooded and so on. Which means that there is probably need to do more to ensure that we don’t waste this resources. But we see that not everyone is harvesting rain water.” Said Nanyanzi

Only seven of ten households according to the survey, seven out of ten households indicated that they harvest rain water.

Majority of the respondents (27%) indicated that they used jerrycans to harvest the rain water, and 17% percent indicated that they used water tanks to harvest rain water. The reset used small utensils like basins and saucepans.  

Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network Executive Director Yunia Musaazi said the survey finding point to the need for interventions on the need to increase to access to piped water and water access technologies.

She says one of the impediments to access to piped water is the cost water. She says the government should reduce taxes like Value Added tax on water harvesting technologies like water tanks.

“If we are to tackle the issue that every Ugandans has access to clean water, the issue of tariffs is quite big. The debate that we want to open up as civil society organizations is this tariff that is administered by different service providers. Does it really speak to the people that they are providing water?” said Yunia Musaazi

////Cue IN “If we are to tackle the issue that........

Cue Out… that they are providing water”////

She says while the survey found that access to water points takes about thirty minutes, women and girls in some parts of the country take up two hours of a round trip to water points.

In August, a team of experts in a research study published in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy found that the conventional economic policy recommending privatization of water utility services among others have struggled due to a failure to account adequately for the politics of water and the associated distributional conflicts.

Oxford Review of Economic Policy researchers said growing dependence on groundwater and non-networked water supplies exacerbates conflicts.

They suggested that meeting the water sustainable development goals would require institutional and technological innovations to supply, allocate, and manage water, as well as a sustained political and financial commitments.

Francis Opedon, a Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at the Water and Environment Ministry said boreholes were the main water supply technologies in Uganda. Opedon said the increasing population coupled by low funding for rural water supply have hampered efforts to increase piped water or increase to clean and safe water.

According to Opedon , the budget for rural water distribution accounts just 10% of the water and Environment Ministry budget. The rural water and sanitation department receives one hundred and ninety-six billion out of over two trillion shillings to the water and environment sector.

The National Development in line with Uganda’s Vision 2040, a strategic plan. aims for 100% access to piped water supplies. Access to water sits under this objective, with two main aims: to increase access to safe water supply in rural areas from the baseline figure of 65% (June 2016) to 79% by 2020. 

A study titled Water supply and sanitation services in small towns in rural–urban transition zones in August discovered that small towns still lag behind in water services. It was based on an assessment Bushenyi-Ishaka municipality in Western Uganda.

The researchers said a round trip to collect water takes 30 minutes or less in  Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality. The most common water sources reported as households’ main drinking water supply were protected spring (48%), unprotected spring (20%) and a NWSC tap at the home or yard (18%). Boreholes, community taps, rainwater harvesting, and surface water (streams or rivers) were less commonly used.