Uganda: Oyam Locals Face Water Shortage

By Bill Oketch

Residents of Oyam District are facing a shortage of clean water sources, Daily Monitor has learnt.

The most affected villages are in Loro, Myene and Abok sub-counties where people travel long distances to access clean water for domestic use. In Abok Sub-county, local leaders said residents have resorted to fetching water from swamps and streams, which puts them at risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

The women in the area said they spend most of their time fetching water from distant places instead of doing other productive activities. Local leaders have raised concern that overcrowding at the few available clean water sources is derailing their efforts to fight Covid-19.

Mr Emmauel Ebac, a resident of Omolo Trading Centre in Loro Sub-county, called upon the authorities to drill more boreholes, saying many children had drowned in wells. "More than five children have drowned in wells in the last three years. Even at the boreholes, there is a lot of overcrowding which is putting them at a high risk of contracting coronavirus disease in case they get in contact with one who is infected," he said.

Mr Benson Obala, the caretaker of a borehole at Omolo Trading Centre, said more than 1000 people turn up to fetch water on a daily basis. "Our leaders should help us and drill more boreholes. People are suffering, especially when it comes to looking for clean water," he said on Monday.

Ms Mislen Tino, a resident of Neniwangi Village, Adigo Parish, also in Loro, said the shortage of clean water sources is causing domestic violence. "Many women have been beaten up by their husbands after delaying at the water sources. Also, breastfeeding mothers have to carry their babies to the water sources even at night," she said.

The Oyam District chairperson, Mr Benson Dila Oyuku, said they have signed a memorandum of understanding with development partners to drill boreholes in the area.

"We have already signed memorandum of understanding with JS Wells Work Africa, a faith-based organisation. Nile Breweries Ltd is also drilling five boreholes in the district this year. We are just waiting for handover of the sites and we are lobbying for more," Mr Dila said.

He said with the project running for five years, more than 200 boreholes will be drilled in Oyam.

Safe water coverage

According to the 2014 National Population and Housing Census, 51.8 per cent of households in Oyam District face difficulties in accessing clean water.

As of June 2020, the national safe water coverage in rural areas in Oyam was estimated at 68 per cent, a decline from 69 per cent as of June 2019.

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