Makerere Constructs Valley Tanks for Nakasongola Residents

Residents of Kanyonyi village, Wanzogi - Subcounty ,  Kalungi Parish in Nakasongola district have got two valley Tanks courtesy of Makerere University. The three year project titled strengthening Universities Capacities for Mitigating Climate Induced Vulnerabilities in East Africa (WATERCAP) started in 2011 at an estimated cost of 150,000 Euros. Another site is being worked upon in Rakai district.

The project was an initiative from RUFORUM an umbrella where different Universities in Africa come together to do training and research. It is led by Makerere University Assoc. Prof. Paul Kibwika as the Principal Investigator and Dr. Florence Kyazze from the department of Extensions and Innovation studies assisted by Engineer Nicholas Kiggundu from Agricultural Bio systems engineering.

This project is aimed at harnessing water and its use especially production in water stressed areas.  Makerere University is collaborating with Egerton University (Kenya), RUFORUM which is an umbrella organization for African Universities, and Bok University in Austria.

  Reconstructed and widened dam for cattle in Kanyonyi village


A delegation from the German and Austrian Technical development cooperation led by Simone Knapp from the Austrian Embassy visited the project site on June 8, 2013 to see the progress undertaken by staff and students of the partnering universities.

“Our main purpose is to see Universities not only involved in teaching but also getting out there to the communities to experience peoples ways of lives and finding solutions. There is very interesting work going on between different Universities, students and local leaders. We appreciate that, and see that they can cooperate a lot.”, Simone commended.

Speaking on site at Kanyonyi Village Makerere University Don  Dr. Florence  Kyazze  said,  the project was  building  on previous work done by  Dr. Mpairwe from the Department of Agricultural Production  who introduced them to the community .

“We have managed to disilt and widen the old dam to 10 meters deep and built the fence around it. We have also constructed another tank for domestic use, a drinking trough for animals and procured water pump to pump water from the dam to the   trough to reduce the drudgery that people used to have by using traditional water troughs.” Dr. Kyazze said.

Dr. Florence Kyazze( In white T shirt) speaking to the Austrian delegation

 Animals drawing water from the trough

The Don said, although the resource is very important, bringing the community on board and managing the resource was a big challenge. She was however   optimistic that the involvement pastoralists, local community and district leaders has yielded good results.

“Initially we had not brought on board the people that the community respected for example the LC1 chairman whom we thought he was with us but was very far away in mind until we brought him on board and took him for an exposure visit in Nairobi where he learnt that water can be used for production and now he is with us, he is doing a lot of mobilization and he is part of the people we are really pleased with in this project” Dr. Kyazze added.

She appealed to the beneficiaries to be responsible for the water resource and maintain it well since they use it for their animals. She also pleaded with the District Water Resources Department to be part of the project so that when the project ends they can come in to help the people.

Eng. Dr. Nicholas Kiggundu on the technical aspect of the dam.

Eng. Kiggundu in a hat explains to the Simone Knapp from the Austrian Embassy as a resident fills the water trough with pumped water from the animal tank

Eng. Dr.  Nicholas Kiggundu said traditionally, pastoralists in the cattle corridor had a problem of water scarcity and even where the dam was built they faced a challenge of getting water from the dam to the drinking troughs.  He said pastoralists used to make water troughs out of mad and could smear them with soil from the ant hill because it had a certain smell to meet their perception that good animal water should be turbid with a smell.

“We ensured that there is a protected water source with a modern trough of 70 ft wide with capacity of 4000 liters where 100 heads of cattle can draw water in 25 minutes. We also ensured that communities participate by contributing sand, bricks and labor to supplement two mansions we brought from Kampala” , Eng. Kiggundu said.

He explained that the point of entry was to make the trough and get a portable, low fuel consumption pump that was easy to maintain and carry to the site to pump water from the reservoir to the valley tank.

“This is a Japanese pump with a width of 110 and 60 meters long and a discharge of about 110 litres which we think is reasonably good. It weighs about 4 kg. It uses petrol and to pump 4000 litres of water, it uses 0.6 liters - the cheapest one can ever get. As we talk now animals can be watered from a modern trough”, Said Eng. Kiggundu.

Residents fetching water from the new drilled valley tank for domestic use

He explained that when the project came in, the dam that was constructed in 1967 had become silted for over 40 years  due to poor management because it was not fenced, animals could trample on the filter grass and drink directly from the dam because it was communal and nobody cared for the resource.

“We came and disilted the dam and the capacity more than doubled. We used Lukoni  for fencing in addition to the barbed wire  to protect the water source ; the inlet has grass to filter water so that its clear and protect the pond from silting”. Eng. Kiggundu said adding that the area has a challenge of termites that eat timber, the reason why there were no Eucalyptus trees in the area.

Eng. Kiggundu asked the community to take on the management seriously and advised pastoralists to utilize their wealth to supplement what they had been given saying the small pump cannot solve all their problems.

“They are rich people with an average person owning 20 heads of cattle and minimum price here is a million. We are telling them to use the wealth they have to do something better for example buying a back up pump so that if this one has a problem they do not go back to the traditional ways. We have again told them to be soliciting money so that they can buy an over head tank where domestic water can be pumped and put on a stand pipe where to get the water. This community is of rich people but they believe they are poor and we have to work on that perception”. The engineer observed.

Dr. Florence Kyazze (in white Tshirt)LC1 & Masters students reinforcing the fence with "Lukoni"

Eng. Kiggundu reported that the project did not do the science part first like counting the number of animals in the area, soil characteristics, computing the water requirement of the animal and how to expand the tank, determining how porous the soil was and how much water is lost through evaporation and mass balance among others as this would have taken a whole year just talking to the community without action.

He said students at MSC level from Makerere and Boku University (Austria) were brought in to do research on the technical and social cultural aspects of the dam and communities benefiting from the resource whose findings will be used by the community to lobby district authorities for more services.

He emphasized that Livestock production is a good enterprise because it brings in money from milk, meat and sell of animals.   He said besides getting the structure, the community was   now more exposed expressing optimism that even they pull out next year, the community will be able to sustain the water resource.

Kanyonyi Residents Speak out

The LC 1 Stephen Sekayise said Kanyonyi village is one of the villages in Kalungi parish that is severely hit by drought from November to March. The whole parish is composed of seven villages namely Kabandi, Kanyonyi, Wanzogi, Kaombe, Katugo and Iremya with over 30, 000 animals affected every dry season. About 750 of these cattle come from Kanyonyi village.

The Chairman Kanyonyi village said a dam was constructed in village in  1960’s  to  help residents access  water for domestic use but the water reservoir was filled with mud and eventually closed due to poor management practices.

 He said in 2011, WATERCAP came on board and trained resident’s good management practices and reconstructed the animal dam with capacity of drawing 1500 animals and separated another dam for human use. He also said the parish has over 30,000 heads of cattle.

 An evaporation pan at the animal resourvior

 “We have benefited and learnt how to gather rainwater and constructing the dam. Secondly, how to manage and maintain the water and thirdly we have learnt how to fix the generators and water pump to draw water from the dam to the drinking troughs for our animals” The councilor said.

Sekayise said unlike the past when animals shared the same water source the project has guaranteed clean water sources for both humans and animals thus reducing on water borne diseases.

The councilor said residents used to trek for 13 km to Lake Kyoga to get water for their animals and human use. He called for more of such interventions to save residents.  He also requested for a water pump for the valley dam for domestic use to avoid people stepping in the water while fetching.

He pledged the village commitment to maintain the resource saying two village committees (Water use and cattle rearing) had been put in place to protect the resource and collect funds for fuel to run the generator.

“We want to buy a bigger generator to pump more water and we have decided that every farmer who uses the water resource will pay 1000/= per animal so that if one has 30 animals he will pay 30,000/=”, Sekayise said.

The Secretary  for Women Affairs Kanyonyi Village  Margret Nabatoyo Katale  said, since the inception of the project animals have enjoyed clean water while residents have become more responsible in terms of maintaining the dam.

“After animals taking water, we no longer allow farmers to stay near because if it rains, the animal waste would finally end into the dam and contaminate water. We are happy because since the project started, we have been exposed to many people interacting with us and training us in different aspects of the dam and general home hygiene”.

Nakanwagi Robinah,  a widow  and  host to the international and Makerere students  expressed pride in the project saying they have benefitted in many ways including reduced distance in search of water.

“Some of our cattle used to die because of water scarcity but they can now take clean water without moving long distances. Even the number of animals has increased in way that those who had five now have like 10 -20 cows” Nakanwagi narrated.

She said the project has also enabled native and international students to carry out research that has seen a lot of investment in the extension of Dam.  Three Master students from Makerere University and another two from Boku University (Austria) are stationed in Kanyonyi  village  studying the technical and  socio cultural aspects of the dam and the  community.

Another resident Zziwa Waiswa said the rehabilitated dam was the first in the history of the area that was built in 1967 but collapsed after a short time.”We are very happy that we can now access quality water for our homes and animals are not falling sick because the dam is protected”.

 Zziwa added that the drilling of the second dam purposely for human consumption has been a safety measure for the residents.

Nakasongaola lies in the cattle corridor. During the dry season pastoralist move with their animals and families searching for water and pasture establishing temporary homesteads wherever they go. This practice is being limited by the increasing human population, sensitivity to land ownership and rights.