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Low Water Coverage in Schools Irks Bugiri District Leaders :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Low Water Coverage in Schools Irks Bugiri District Leaders

The leaders say that as much as they have registered an increase in the general water coverage, now at 78 per cent, most of their schools do not have reliable sources of water, which forces pupils to trek over two kilometres to the community boreholes.
Bugiri district officials commission a piped water project at Ndifakulya church of Uganda primary school recently. Courtesy photo.
Leaders in Bugiri district have expressed dismay over the low water coverage in schools. They argue that this is partly to blame for the poor performance of learners in both internal and national exams.

The leaders say that as much as they have registered an increase in the general water coverage, now at 78 per cent, most of their schools do not have reliable sources of water, which forces pupils to trek over two kilometres to the community boreholes.

This challenge, they said, affects the overall presence of learners in schools, as most of them break off at different intervals to look for drinking water at the expense of their lessons.

Daniel Kapere, the headmaster of Ndifakulya Church of Uganda Primary School says that some of the pupils released for water breaks at 10:30 am rarely return to school for the rest of the day. Kapere adds that most of the parents are too poor to afford water bottles for their children.

Paul Wabwire, another teacher stresses that parents rejected a request to pack water in mineral water bottles, saying they could not afford the cost of mineral water, just to retain the bottle for future use.

John Kalume, a member of the school's Parents and Teachers Association-PTA says that many parents care less about the general well-being of their children and only focus on sending them to school without primary necessities. 

"Ever since local authorities embarked on drives to arrest all parents whose children were not in school, they opted to enrol them for Universal Primary Education-UPE, but they are hesitant to provide them with water and food, which over time affects their primal ability to learn," Kalume said.

The District Inspector of Schools Mastula Tibiiwa says that they have schools along the Iganga-Bugiri-Busia highway, where learners are often involved in traffic accidents while attempting to cross the road in search of drinking water. Tibiiwa adds that these accidents demoralize their colleagues and have driven many out of school.

Marble Abaho, the General Manager of National Water and Sewerage Corporation in Bugiri District says that some sub-counties like Nankoma, Buwunga and Nabukalu are fairing with a percentage water coverage of about 38 per cent in schools, thanks to partnerships with development partners. The areas that are completely relying on government interventions are lagging.

Abaho notes that over 1,973 households and 10 schools, have been rolled out for piped water in Bugiri Municipality. She adds that they have rolled out low-cost public standpipe water for less privileged communities in town councils and sub-counties where a 20-litre jerrycan now costs 25 Shillings.

Meanwhile, the Bugiri District Local Government Speaker Moses Kaziba says that the current guidelines from the Ministry of Water and Environment only grant them powers to construct boreholes in communities without any provision for schools.

Kaziba further says that most of the boreholes constructed in the early 2000s have since broken down and the limited grant of 475 million Shillings remitted to them in the last financial year could only enable them to dig 19 boreholes in affected communities, some of which are far away from schools.

However, Kaziba says that, through the SICPA's water access initiative, they managed to lobby for piped water at Ndifakulya Church of Uganda Primary School and the same will serve the needs of the other two private schools in the area.

Kaziba further says that after liaising with officials from the Ministry of Water, they passed a council resolution to prioritize water coverage in schools. He adds that part of next financial year's water grant has been earmarked for at least five boreholes in learning institutions.

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