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MAK valley tank in the water stressed communities of Nakasongola register success

Residents of Kanyonyi village, Wanzogi – Subcounty, Kalungi Parish in Nakasongola district have all reasons to celebrate following a successful project that has in this dry season relieved several households from shifting in search for water for their animals and domestic use. No animal deaths resulting from water scarcity has been recorded.

Kanyonyi village is one of the villages in Kalungi parish that is always severely hit by drought from November to March. The parish is composed of seven villages including Kabandi, Kanyonyi, Wanzogi, Kaombe, Katugo and Iremya with over 30, 000 animals affected every dry season. Residents used to trek for 13 km to Lake Kyoga to get water for their animals and human use. During this movement, 40 animals in a herd of 100, used to die, calves not counted. 

The pump attendant Mr. Abel Kiiza fixing the pump in preparation for watering animals

The first dam in this area was constructed by government 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. In 2011 Makerere University dons from the Department of Extension and Innovation studies embarked on a three year project aimed at harnessing water and its use especially production in water stressed areas. Makerere University collaborated with Egerton University (Kenya), RUFORUM which is an umbrella organization for African Universities and Bok University in Austria.

The project titled, “ strengthening Universities Capacities for Mitigating Climate Induced Vulnerabilities in East Africa (WATERCAP) was an initiative from RUFORUM an umbrella where different Universities in Africa come together to do training and research at an estimated cost of 150,000 Euros.

The project was led by Makerere University Dr. Paul Kibwika as the Principal Investigator and Dr. Florence Kyazze from the Department of Extensions and Innovation studies assisted by Eng. Nicholas Kiggundu from the Department of Agricultural and Bio systems engineering.

Mak project leaders( Dr. Paul Kibwika, the Principal Investigator on the extreme right and Dr. Florence Kyazze next to him) interact with community committee members at the site

WATERCAP trained residents good management practices, desilted, reconstructed and widened the animal dam that was built by government in 1967 with a capacity of drawing 1500 animals. A water pump with the capacity of pumping 4000 litres on 0.6 Litres of petrol was procured. A 70 ft wide water trough with the capacity of 4000 litres of water was also constructed. 

In June 2013, the project ended and was handed over to the residents. 
Dr. Kibwika and Dr. Kyazze visited the site at the end of February 2015 to assess not only the progress made by the communities in maintaining and utilising the water resource but also see whether the initiative served the intended purpose to provide water during the dry season.

Dr. Paul Kibwika explained the motive of the poject and the visit. 
“Our interest was not just research but also the development aspect. We wanted to see if what was initiated during the rainy season was put in practice for the dry season. And this was a good basis for our evaluation”, Dr. Kibwika said.

Dr. Kibwika also said he was impressed by the capability of the communities to organise themselves to run the generator without external support. “They can manage their community, they know how many animals each herdsman has and they have devised a mechanism of generating money to sustain the project”, He added. 

The Project PI, Dr. Paul Kibwika (Right) looks at the watering trough that was constructed in use

The PI also observed that the communities have become more active on their own and realised the value of water. They used to take their animals to Lake Kyoga and during this movement 40 out 100 animals in a herd would die but this time they have lost none which is a big success to the community.

Dr. Kibwika also expressed happiness over the community’s ability to resolve conflicts associated with land ownership and location of the dam. At the start of the project, one family claimed that the rehabilitated dam was theirs and lay in the family land. Other communities claimed the dam occupied land bordering two different villages but this was amicably resolved. 

The PI however expressed the need for the whole community to own up the project. “A few individuals are the ones organising the communities. The challenge now is for the community to put in place a well organised structure that can ensure sustainability with proper accountability and full ownership of the entire community”. He further noted.

The water resource serves seven parishes animals and people get water

The other major challenge as observed by Dr. Kibwika that cuts across development projects in pastoral communities was to get people out of the dependence thinking. He was responding to the community call for help to be availed with another pump (hand pump) to pump water for domestic use so as to avoid people falling in the valley tank.

“Even if we had an opportunity to go back, we would only strengthen their organisational capacity but not to empower them to be dependent .They need to realise that they have the capacity to do those small things by themselves because they are not poor. We directed them to get support from NGO’s operating in the area and to lobby for themselves especially at the district and the politicians”. Dr. Kibwika advised.

The communities were equally happy that the water resource would take them throughout the dry season. The water level in the valley tank was a half way and could serve the communities for the next three months of the dry season. 

The community committees were also able to hire a labourer who operates the water pump everyday to ensure that both animals and people get the water. Over 1000 animals draw water from the valley tank. Seven parishes draw water from this same resource for domestic use.

The project Co-investigator Dr. Florence Kyazze said Nakasongola was one of the hardest communities when the project had began and therefore she was interested in seeing the impacts that the project had made in the community. 

“But seeing them still doing the project activities even after the project run out really impressed me and I got an emotional attachment to that community and went there to see what was happening. I knew water is life because these are pastoralists. Livestock are their livelihood and livestock must have water”. She said and expressed her attachment to the project and went on to saying:

One of the herdsmen looks on as his animals water

“When I looked at the dry season and the way it was progressing I knew that this people were in trouble and I really wanted to find out what is happening. So we have people we contacted, asked them what was going on and then they narrated the story and I wanted to see with my own eyes what was happening and also show these people that the technologies that we had introduced worked and were for their own benefit”. She said.

Dr. Kyazze said during interaction with community members, the pastoralist expressed happiness and informed them that they had mobilised themselves to raise funds to buy the right quality of fuel and done some repairs on the pump.

“To me that is a plus to that project and it is one of the projects that I would say have been very successful and it really shows you a progression from laggard now to a doctor and I think that is great about that project”. Dr. Kyazze commended.

The don was also impressed by the efficiency of the water resource and the little time animals were spending to draw water. She recalled that the first time they went there, about 15,000 animals over crowded at a small watering point but this time, the population of animals was not there because each kraal comes, waters and goes.

The other credit to the project according to Dr. Kyazze was that the community which has over the years lived a pastoral life moving and looking for water has got more of a sedentary life because they have a big water resource.

“And I was impressed when they put a pump attendant and this is the only person who mans the pump, he knows how it operates, he cares for it and carries it back where it is supposed to be. That controls the damage to the pump and the community is paying the person”. Dr. Kyazze narrated.

She however observed that the community still had a challenge of clarity on how money was being collected, managed and accounted for. She expressed the need to educate the people more on how to keep records and how to give accountability to the community.

The other challenge according to Dr. Kyazze was that despite the fact that pastoralists are rich, they still have the begging syndrome.

“They want another pump but in my own thinking this community has the capacity to buy because one person has over 100 animals. So the challenge is just like most people think donor funding is here. But I am very sure that if that pump got spoilt, those people can contribute money”.

The other challenge noted was that the live fence that was planted has not grown putting the livestock and people at the risk of dropping into the valley tank. The community was requested to use some of the money collected to plant a live fence along the dam.

Another challenge observed was that people and animals collect water from the same source and the pastoralists do not seem to be bothered. This practice could lead to the transmission of diseases between people and animals. One strategy that had been tried out was that the animals water and then people use the watering resource after the facility has been cleaned up.

People and animals share the same resource

“ I was there, I saw people drinking water directly from the water trough while the animals were also watering, So, that is a problem but this is something these people are used to drinking with their animals” she observed. 

Residents applaud Makerere University
Residents described the project as the “animal and human saviour”. They reported that they were no longer trekking to Lake Kyoga with animals in search for water.

A pastoralist and resident, Livingstone Kyensobe said the construction of the valley tank came with multiple benefits, “Our children have been able to stay in schools during this dry season unlike those days when they would stay at home to look for water for animals”. He said.

“All other water sources dried up and this tank supplies the whole sub county. Over 1000 heads of cattle draw water from this dam in a very short time. In addition, looking for water is now history as men and women just drop by with bicycles to get water from the dam”. Another herdsman, Rogers said. 

Residents from seven villages also get water from the same source for domestic use

The LC 1 Chairman Kanyonyi village Stephen Sekayise hailed Makerere University for providing clean water sources for both humans and animals thus reducing on water borne diseases. He said the community was planning to reconstruct the fence and also buy another pump.

“We need to protect animals and people from falling into the dam by fencing. We also need a water pump to draw water for domestic use to guarantee peoples’ safety not to fall in the dam as they fetch water for home use”, Sekayise reported.

Two village committees on water use and cattle rearing were set up to protect the resource and collect funds for fuel to run the generator. Every farmer who uses the water resource pays 1000/= per animal per dry season. “We have a half a million shillings that we plan to reconstruct the fence, increase the wage for the pump operator and if all goes well plan to buy another bigger pump,” Rogers a member on the water committee said.



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