Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Friday - visit to Kampala Capital City Authority and the slums

We drove into the centre of Kampala in very heavy traffic for an 8am meeting at the KCCA  - Kampala Capital City Authority's offices and met with many officials from Planning, Public Health, Water and Sanitation and the deputy Executive Director of the KCCA. We learned that Kampala covers an area of 200 square kilometres (not much more than the Elan Valley Estate's area) and has a resident population of 1.5 million people - this number doubles during the day as so many come into the capital for work. Around 60% of people live in informal settlements (slums), which we will visit later. Adam from our group found out later that the average number of people living on one hectare of land in Kampala is 400 - in London it is just 50 people per hectare!

We then set off to two different slums - Kaewempe and Bwaise, we had been warned not to wear any jewellery or have any valuables on display, to take very few photos and to keep together at all times, so with trepidation we approached the first area, estimated to have 100,000 people living in it. There had been torrential rain the night before and there was was water literally everywhere, the lower areas were completely flooded, it was all completely overwhelming.
Lower areas of the slum after heavy rainfall

In this particular slum there were two options for water: buy from the water sellers, who only sell at certain times of the day and the cost is around 100 Ugandan shillings per 20 litre can - 60% of the population of Kampala is classed as urban poor - surviving on less than 86 pence per day in our money, this is the equivalent of around 3700 Ugandan shillings - so collecting several cans per day of water from these sellers is simply not affordable for most people. We were then shown where people who cannot afford the water sellers' prices get their water - there were many children happily filling their cans and playing in the water, making little dams and generally having a good time:

Children collecting water

We were all shocked to then hear that this water supply was condemned in 2000 as it became unsafe, yet this is all that is available for people who cannot afford to buy it. The health worker who was with us explained that the families are told that they must boil this water before drinking it, and if you ask them whether they do so they will say that they do as they know this is what they should say. Again, most people cannot afford to buy the charcoal blocks needed to be able to boil the water.

Many of us became quite emotional at this point, it was all very hard to take in, and although the people we saw appeared to be cheerful and healthy, who knows how many others were inside the huts, too ill to be out and about?

Monday, 24 November 2014

Thursday - long drive back to Kampala

A bit of a lie in today, we didn't need to set off until 7.30! The traffic was much heavier today than last Sunday with many slow and large vehicles which held us up. Lots of interesting stalls and people to look at on the way though!

Road conditions weren't always great

This was the first day of having proper toilets all day - even the service station had them and yet the Amuria Council Offices yesterday had just a latrine (though it did have tiled walls and floor!)
We stopped for lunch in Jinja (again with proper toilets) and then went on a boat trip to the souce of the Nile, we saw long-tailed cormorants, white egrets, pied kingfishers and vervet monkeys and all got off to wade to the point where a marker pinpoints the actual source of the Nile - it used to be a waterfall out of Lake Victoria, but since the construction of a dam further downstream in the 1950s there is no longer a waterfall there.
Waiting to set off
Source of the Nile
Long tailed cormorants
Me at the source of the Nile
Paddling from the shop to the source of the Nile
Beautiful view


Saturday, 22 November 2014

Wednesday - World Toilet Day in Amuria

Did you know that one in three people in our world do not have a safe place to go to the toilet? That's around 1.5 billion people that are at risk of disease and attack while carrying out what we all have to do each day. This event, held on November 19th has existed for many years now and was recognised by the UN last year which is a huge step forward in reaching the goal of safe toilet facilities for all. We felt proud to be able to share in this day.
We travelled to Amuria Town to a District Government meeting with the District Chairman telling us that since 2011 the latrine coverage in the area has risen from just 38% to over 80%, quite an achievement! He believes this is why Amuria was chosen to celebrate World Toilet Day. He said that although it is a huge district it is the most improved in Uganda in terms of latrine coverage and ranks first for sanitation.

Amuria Health Centre

We then went to Amuria Health Centre, the first time a health facility has been visited on a Supporters' trip. It was built in the 1930s and is one of only two in the region serving 400,000 people - there is no hospital although they carry out functions similar to one. There are 46 beds and they plan to increase this to 128 but there is no way they could so without better facilities. Over 24 000 outpatients came here last year.

Imagine a hospital or health centre with no laundry facility - we saw women washing bed linen on the grass outside! There is no kitchen, so all food is prepared and cooked outside and the latrines are either full and therefore unusable or very close to the wards, with the not quite so ill patients helping with the cleaning of them! All clinical waste, syringes etc are burnt on the ground as there is no incinerator.

Bernie from our group brought a big bag of medical supplies over from home which was very gratefully received.
We walked through the maternity ward where there were not enough beds, so many of the mothers were on the floor with newborn babies and the building was old with bars on the windows and was in desperate need of a coat of paint. As we walked through to the waiting area we saw a chicken ahead of us that had wandered in from outside. Here mothers had walked up to 4km with their babies to receive their vaccinations and there were at least ten of them waiting to be seen by the nurse.
This visit was very tough and we all felt of so little use with the small amount of cleaning we did assist with.

Amuria School

It wasn't long before we headed across the busy road to Amuria School, no pedestrian crossing or speed limits here!

There was a quick walk to show us the latrines which were put in with WaterAid's help. But again there were nowhere near enough - the recommended ratio of pupils per "stance" (cubicle) is 40 but here it was 80 per latrine with hand washing taking place at the water collection point some way from the latrines. So much time must be spent waiting to spend a penny!

We then split into three groups to see a health club lesson, help draw posters about hygiene and paint an outside wall of a classroom, although the inside looked in more need of a makeover really!

Sprucing up the outside walls of a classroom

The inside walls could do with a lick of paint as well

114 pupils in one classroom!

These boys loved the camera!

These girls were very chatty and wanted to help us with our bags!

We then went to sit with many other guests and pupils for the World Toilet Day celebrations, we were told that this could last up until around 2pm, but in the end it went on until after 4pm! Apparently it is not uncommon for a single speech to last for two hours here! We were expecting the Prime Minister to attend but instead it was the Minister of Health who finished with an inspiring speech, we also were entertained with singing and dancing by the children and Barry from our group also did an amazing speech!
Arrival of the procession

Dancers who could jump very high in the air!

Minister of Health giving his speech

Everyone got up to dance at the end

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Tuesday afternoon - visit to Wera School

We arrived to a wonderful welcome from the school in their blue uniforms and all the children wanted to shake our hands, we felt like royalty! We heard a welcome song, and moved behind the school to listen to a number of speeches from teachers and members of the PTA. We learned that the school was built in 1937 and today has a 20 acre site with three blocks of 7, 4 and 2 classrooms to teach 836 pupils. There were 14 teachers; some lived on site in houses built by parents. There was also an office and a library.
Water comes from a shared bore hole 100 metres away but this does involve crossing the main road which is very dangerous.
Thanks to intervention from WaterAid the school has had latrines since 2012 - there are three blocks, each with 5 cubicles and also two disabled latrines. Water for hand washing is available and there were many hygiene messages painted on the walls of the classrooms.
The school are planning to grow vegetables and fruit so that a midday meal can be provided and are also planning on building more houses for teachers. They need gumboots and brushes to clean the latrines, more furniture and better disabled facilities and would love to have electricity!
We then listened to songs and dances and a poem from a little girl who had lost both her parents to HIV. Everyone got up to dance at the end!
We then visited the classrooms to help the children draw hygiene posters and also assisted with the making of sanitary towels, this means that more girls attend school as they can now change, most cannot afford to buy them so they have come up with a design that both girls and boys help to make.
It was a shame that we had to leave so soon, I would have loved to sit in on some lessons and speak to the children for longer.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tuesday morning - visit to Bobol Village

This village has 83 households and 519 people living in it and intervention from WaterAid in 2011 provided a bore hole which was available from March 2012.

Here 76 households now have latrines and 69 have handwashing facilities.

Conflict in this area between 1987-1992 left many widows and in 2003 the Lord's Resistance Army invaded the area for around a year. Some Supporters were visiting widows and their families, our family consisted of brother and sister David and Nora.

As soon as we arrived the difference was obvious, people's clothing was cleaner and smarter and everyone wore flip flops or shoes. Our family had a large number of animals including chickens, turkeys, pigs and many goats and cattle. They could afford cockerels and so could breed their chickens to ensure a constant supply of them. There were also crops grown like cowpeas, cassava, maize, millet and groundnuts (peanuts) which are sold to other villagers or at market.

We saw the latrine which had two "cubicles" and a concrete floor and then helped to build a tippy tap. These allow you to wash your hands after using the latrine without having to touch the water container and so reduce the spread of bacteria and illness.

We then went to collect water from the bore hole and this time two bikes were available to attach the containers to. We were told that prior to WaterAid's intervention the village had to put a business plan forward and now each family pays a monthly amount for water, this ensures there is money to repair the pump and the money left earns interest which is reinvested in village enterprises in order to ensure sustainability.

We returned with 60 litres of water and then attempted to milk a cow (which we were hopeless at!) and helped to shell some groundnuts which were then toasted along with some millet porridge for breakfast.

Nora then invited us to bathe (shower) in an enclosed structure with soap, towel and a bucket of water which was very refreshing after all the heat and dust! We then learnt of David's passion for reading his Bible and took it in turns to read.

Five minutes before we needed to leave lunch arrived - chicken curry and rice! We were still full  from breakfast so had a small amount and then had to rush off for presentations at Wera School.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Monday afternoon - Ojolai School

A short drive took us to the school, which was only completed last year and has 458 pupils and 8 teachers. An incredible effort had been made by the Parent Teacher Association to build the school and provide education in the community, but there is no water supply at all!

They had so many things they wanted to do, for example with provision of a water supply they could grow maize, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes as currently there is no lunch available for the children.

We were astounded to learn that unless children bring water with them (from that awful open well) they attend school from around 7.30am until 1pm without the chance to have a drink! What a contrast with the UK where there are water machines and a bottle for each child available whenever they need it.

We were shown the toilet facilities - 2 separate pit latrine blocks with 2 in each for boys girls, and afterwards of course no hand washing facilities.

To keep the area clean we were shown how once a week the area is swept and then some dried grass is set alight and used to clean out the pits. The grass I was given went up really well and before I knew it some quite big flames were threatening to burn the whole bundle of grass before I could take it into the latrine!

It was incredible to see how the community had pulled together in such a short time in order to provide education but imagine a school in the UK with no water supply, classrooms that offer no protection in heavy rain (so they run to the church for shelter and to protect the few books they have) and just 4 latrines for over 400 pupils! There are hardly any seats so the children all sit on the dusty ground for lessons and then go home dirty.

I really hope that the community will be able to receive help in the future, clean water would make such a difference here.

Tomorrow we visit a community that has received intervention from WaterAid.

Monday morning - visit to Ojolai Village

We visited an extremely rural area today that was very badly affected by the recent war with many people only returning to the community around 7 years ago when it became safe to do so. As a result the land is largely uncultivated and so there is little chance to earn money from the sale of crops or livestock.

The village consists of 588 people living in 114 households and only 37 of these have latrines. As well as this being a major issue in that so many people simply do not have a safe place to go to the toilet there is also no clean water within 5km so most people collect what they need from an open well.

Our family was introduced to us by our interpreter Ruth and consisted of Serina and Sam and their daughter aged 2 and son aged 7 who was at school when we arrived.

We had a go at ploughing with oxen, which they made look easy but it was very tricky to keep the furrows straight! We then helped with some weeding, led some goats out to graze and then set off to collect water.

Although it was a relatively short distance to walk (around 200 metres) I was shocked to discover a murky grey pool which animals also drink from and their waste washes into after rainstorms. There were fish and turtles in the water and yet this was all they had.

Sam told us that it would dry up for about three months from December onwards and then a much further walk would be needed. Between myself, Gillian and Roger we carried 40 litres back for our family, Roger had the heaviest container and walked most of the way with it on his head!

Ruth told us how the atrocious water affects the family by giving them stomach upsets, one boy was off school today for that reason. Yet everyone was happy and industrious, and two meals were prepared for us to share with the family. Absolutely nothing was wasted and great pride was taken in keeping the compound clean and tidy.

Ruth explained how difficult it was to make an income as so much time was spent collecting water and school was too expensive for many of the families. She told me that "unless you work hard and sweat, you don't earn", and of course with such poor quality water many people are ill which in turn affects the work that can be done. The nearest doctor is 6km away!

I found it so shocking to see the water that this village has available to them but was really inspired by their resourcefulness.