Uganda is generally semi-rid and has experienced severe decline in water sources over the past few decades. This has been worsened by frequent and prolonged droughts resulting from climate change. Clean water sources are now inadequate as many spring wells continue to dry up. However, the human population continues to increase thus making availability of clean water insufficient for the community. Human beings end up sharing spring wells with cattle and other animals thus increasing contamination of water. This has resulted to increased incidence of waterborne diseases (typhoid, diarrhea, cough,)
In Arua,some primary school pupils who were using bushes for open defecation in refugee camps abandoned the act after PAG constructed a set of modern latrines with washrooms in their school premises. When the students were forced to resort to open defecation, the most affected were the girls, as many of them feared to go to the bushes to ease themselves, according to Ms Joyce Candiru, the Senior Woman Teacher of Katiku primary school, a bene ciary school.
Ms Candiru said the intervention of (PAG) had saved the students in the school, especially the girls, from the indignity of resorting to the disconcerting open defecation. “Before PAG came in, we were also using a temporary toilet that got broken and children were unable to use that. So they were going to help themselves in the bushes,” she said. “We are glad that we now have a latrine with washrooms for girls.”
She added that the bathroom helps them when they are in their menstrual periods and they get water which they use for bathing. “Some girls feared to go to bushes and we had a great drop out of girls because of lack of a latrine, Some girls returned to school after hearing that a latrine and bathroom were constructed. Said Mrs. Candiru”.
One of the female pupils who is bene tting from the new latrine facilities, Yar Boi, a primary ve pupil at Katiku primary school, said there was no privacy in the bushes since some of the mischievous boys often followed the girls there which made them very un comfortable.
Before the construction of the new latrines, Katiku Primary School had only one latrine, which catered for only boys and the girls, whose hygiene needed better and more numerous lavatory facilities, were reduced to using either bushes or ‘mobile toilets (defecating in polythene bags)
According to statistics provided by authorities at Katiku primary school, there are 232 female refugees and 75 female nationals in the school, which brings the total to 307 girls. On the other hand, there are 290 male refugees and 96 Ugandan nationals, totaling up to 386 boys.
The head teacher of the school, Alfred Onen, conceded in an interview that the sanitation facilities at Katiku were in an alarming state before the intervention of PAG
Onen added that the problem of construction of latrines in the school was compounded by the poor soil texture that is sandy. “Sometimes when we tried to construct a latrine, the soils would collapse. But we thank PAG for saving us with construction of a better latrine because since it was constructed three years ago, we have not had any issues,” he said.