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SANITATION AND HYGIENE DIFFICULTIES IN UGANDA

August 19th, 2019

SANITATION AND HYGIENE DIFFICULTIES IN UGANDA

SANITATION IN UGANDA – THE CURRENT SITUATION

Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world. Insufficient sanitary conditions in households, schools, health centres and public facilities are the largest barriers to eradicating extreme poverty and the prevention of economic and human development in Uganda. Poor sanitation, in turn, costs the Ugandan government around 86 million (GBP) annually, because of issues including; premature death, access time, productivity losses whilst sick or accessing healthcare. If the sanitation situation can be improved this will consequently improve the economic and human development in Uganda.

  • In Kampala, only 10-15% of the city has formal sewerage connections.
  • 60% of children in Uganda live over 30 minutes’ walk from a water source (UNICEF, 2015)
  • 29% of households in Northern Uganda do not use any sanitation facilities, which is considerably higher than corresponding figures for Eastern (8%), Western (2%) and Central regions (5%)

WHY IS THE SITUATION SO BAD?

Healthcare in Uganda has very little funding. Therefore, it is vital for Uganda to receive support from elsewhere. Rising population levels have meant that families move to cities to find jobs, thus increasing demand and causing stress on existing sanitation services.

The impact of poor sanitary conditions particularly impacts women. This is due to the fact that typically women and girls in Africa are the main provider of household water and they are expected to collect water for drinking, cooking and cleaning for the family. Poor sanitation conditions result in girls missing school because they are either travelling long distances to fetch clean water or when they reach puberty the lack of separate toilets disheartens girls to attend full time. This is not helped by various social stigmas attached to periods (most girls do not have access to sanitary products) and so girls choose to avoid these ‘awkward’ social situations by not going to school and therefore opportunities are lost. Additionally, due to the lack of access to (separate) toilets women often wait until after sunset to relieve themselves which can be very dangerous as it makes women vulnerable to sexual assault or physical attacks. Thus, it is important to help fund sanitation projects in order to provide an equal and safe opportunity for all.

WHAT ARE THE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER ORGANISATIONS DOING TO HELP?

There have been various initiatives carried out to try to ensure that suitable sanitation is available, to guarantee that women and girls are not hindered by the lack of sanitation. However, many of the initiatives that have been carried out by other organisations have been focused on the South, thus, it is essential that future projects must incorporate the north as well.

UNICEF has had a key role in not only striving to improve all sanitary situations in Uganda but also tackling inequalities that women are subject to with reference to poor sanitation. The programme initiated by UNICEF concentrates on providing separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys and also provides health education- this has had a positive impact as Uganda has seen a rise in girls school attendance.  Health education is vital as it ensures that girls and boys understand the importance of good sanitation and encourages them to pass knowledge down to future generations.

The Ugandan Government has had support particularly from the US, UNICEF and the Ugandan Sanitation Fund. This support has been fundamental to improving sanitary conditions due to the severe lack of finances that Uganda invests in healthcare 97% of investments in sanitation is funded by external aid. The improvement of sanitary conditions has been recognised as essential to eradicate poverty.

The US Government has coordinated with the Ugandan Government to improving sanitation and hygiene conditions. They have provided this help through Tetra Tech ARD (an engineering company which has services in international development). USAID aims to improve the sanitation situation in Uganda by promoting key behavioural changes in homes, schools and health facilities. As well as strengthening district governance for sustainable services and increasing access to financial products.

WHAT ELSE CAN BE DONE?

  • Education is crucial in the quest to eradicate poor sanitation. Furthermore, education should be available to help remove the social stigma attached to periods, to encourage girls to go to school. It is important that teachers are prepared with knowledge about women’s issues so they can help.
  • Offering free sanitation products for women. Work has been done to show women how to make their own reusable and sustainable sanitary pads, but this needs to be continued and made available across the whole of Uganda.
  • The creation of borehole wells in local villages. This will result in more girls going to school as there will be local water sources to provide a constant source of clean water.

It is important to encompass local communities to make sure all communities have access to sanitation. Various projects have already been set up, but these have been focused in the south. HART is one of the few charities that has a relationship with the northern communities.

Staff at PAORINHER prepare lunch for the students

ROLE OF HART

HART helps to improve the lives of many Ugandan men, women and children through continued support for PAORINHER based in the north.  Local partners are effective as they are committed to their communities and make sure the local people get what they want and need.

There have been various achievements throughout the whole of Uganda, such as the proportion of the population living below the national poverty line reducing from 31.1% in 2006 to 19.7% in 2013.

Nonetheless, the rate of poverty reduction has been significantly slower in both the Northern and Eastern regions as the number of poor people who now live in these regions has increased by 16% in 7 years.

Furthermore, PAORINHER is the ‘champion against illiteracy’ which is fundamental to the success of providing sanitation for all. However, there is plenty more that can be done to ensure that there are sufficient levels of sanitation and hygiene provided for all, especially in northern Uganda.

Alice Tollemache

By Alice Tollemache

Alice has just finished her 2nd year of studying Politics and Anthropology at the University of Exeter.


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