Insights into the project “Safe water through the power of the sun in Uganda”

Many people in Eastern Uganda still depend on open and unsafe water sources like lakes and rivers often leading to diseases like diarrhea, typhoid or cholera. This project provides access to safe water by solar water disinfection in PET bottles for around 80,000 people in rural communities.

The reduced consumption of firewood saves carbon emissions as boiling on the open three stone fires is prevented and lifts the burden on nearby forests. But the project Safe water through the power of the sun in Uganda is not only about access to safe water, reducing CO2 emissions and preventing deforestation. Our local partner Get Water Uganda, a grassroot community-based organization, focuses on activities geared towards economic and social empowerment of community members especially women to transform their lives. Households get knowledge on improved hygiene practices and local artisans are trained how to build simple sanitary facilities such as toilets, washing rooms, hand washing facilities (tippy taps) and rubbish pits using local materials. Capacity building activities help women to manage their finances and to generate a small additional income by setting up women plastic collection groups and by forming and training so called Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA). Take a look at our photo story. Photos all taken in March 2022.

Safe water through the power of the sun

“We are nine people in this household. I treat water every day – in total we have 14 bottles that means more than 20 liters drinking water for my family which is enough for us. We used to fall sick, especially the kids, from diarrhea when we still drank untreated water. But now with the latrine, bathing shelter and the new hygiene practices we do much better. I’m also part of a Village savings and Loans Association in my village. I already saved more than 10,000 UGX (Euro 2.50) and want to start with poultry.”

Water fetching from lakes and boreholes three times a day 

Lake Victoria is the major source of water in this region. Women and kids often have to walk long distances to get their water. Maliza Kusasira has eight household members and needs to get water from Lake Victoria three times per day with a 20 liters jerry can. To go to the lake and back takes approximately 50 minutes, that means she spends around two and a half hours each day just to get water.

The new life of the family Temuko

Before Christine Robai Temuko (48 years) and her husband John (65 years) became part of the project, they always drank untreated water and suffered from typhoid and acute diarrhea in the family.

Proper hygienic sanitation infrastructure thanks to the project

Since Christine’s family received trainings from the project starting from June 2020 her household has a proper hygienic sanitation infrastructure, that means a proper latrine, bathing shelter, drying rack for performing solar water disinfection and keeping the dishes clean and a rubbish pit. The project trains local artisans which are part of the communities. These artisans support each household to build proper sanitation facilities.

Toilet building with yellow tippy tap for hand washing

The term “Satopan” is derived from the phrase “Safe Toilet”. It is designed to close off insects or other hosts’ access to feces - thus limiting their ability to communicate these diseases. The Satopan flap is like a trap door -- the weight of a cup or bucket of water “flushing” the waste down opens the trap door to let it through into the latrine pit, but then the Satopan’s counterweight keeps the Satopan flap closed at all other times. The plastic material is also easy to clean, ensuring any residual waste is “flushed” down the Satopan.

Garbage pits for organic material and plastic waste

The project teaches and encourages community members to install garbage pits. Organic material is composted and plastic waste is collected in the yellow plastic bucket. Households get paid from the plastic collection groups (see below) per kg plastic waste.



Women Plastic Collection Groups

The project supports and trains women to form plastic collection groups. They collect different kinds of plastic from household and sensitize community members on the importance of keeping the environment clean and free from plastic waste flying around. Plastic is sorted and kept in plastic centres which are locally constructed with a simple wood building approach. The project connects the plastic centers to recycling companies which buy the collected plastic waste.

Collecting plastic will generate a small income

Four plastic collection groups – in total 120 women – have been formed and trained in September 2021. PET bottles and other plastics can be sold to recycling companies which generates a small extra income for the women. At the time, no plastics have been sold as the purchase price is too low at the moment to ensure a profit for the collectors. Therefore, the PET bottles and other plastics are currently stored and will be sold depending on the price developments.

Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA)

The project supports and trains women to establish so called Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) in order to jointly save money together and lend microcredits to each other. The groups are trained on financial management in general, book-keeping and simple banking mechanisms.

Save money and lend microcredits

Each VSLA group is equipped with saving boxes, keys, stationary, stamps, saving and credit passbooks etc. By being able to take out small loans the members now have more opportunities than before: They can start small income-raising businesses such as raising poultry or growing vegetables to be sold at the market.

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