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A day in the life of Annah

While Annah Boonabana’s average day looks busy but well-organised today, just two years ago it was anything but.

Before water taps were installed in her village, Nyakatunga in South West Uganda, Annah (31) used to have to walk for over two hours to collect water each and every day. 

This greatly limited the time she had available for her work at home and at her vegetable plot, as well as the time she had available for her children. 

Because of the long distance involved, Annah’s family only had access to a small amount of unsafe water each day for drinking, washing, food preparation and to water crops.

Now Annah’s community has enough fresh water for all its needs – and Annah’s family and farm are flourishing. Plus access to clean water means exposure to fewer diseases, helping her family stay healthy.

A lack of clean water can trap people in poverty 

One of the greatest causes of poverty, which is often overlooked, is the lack of access to clean and safe water. 

Uganda has a population of nearly 40 million and eight million of those people do not have access to clean and safe water (that is almost double the population of the Republic of Ireland without safe water). 

Many resort to collecting water from nearby swamps, where the water is dirty and contaminated – spreading water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

This in turn can greatly impact on the health of families and communities, limiting their ability to work or go to school, and channelling the little money they have into covering medical costs. 

Then there is all the time that is lost, the hours spent by women and children each day fetching water from far away sources, and the hard physical cost of carrying heavy jerry cans home over long distances. 

All that could be potentially achieved in that time is lost, not least important activities such as schooling. 

Community led and community owned

While Trócaire gave financial and technical support, the project to pipe water to Nyakatunga village, Rubirizi District, was led by the community itself. 

With support from Irish missionaries Fr Brendan Shannon and Fr Charlie Beirne, and the parish priest in the area Fr David Niwagaba, the community came together and organised. They contributed their labour to dig trenches for piping and set up a water management committee to oversee maintenance of the water pipeline into the future. 

Community members now pay a small fee for their water which is used to buy petrol for the motorised water pump, and surplus money is saved to cover repairs to the pump and piping. Volunteers also attend and maintain the water kiosks. 

Now 3000 people in the community, including Annah and her family, can access clean water piped directly into their village for the first time.

A second phase project is now in motion to extend water access to other neighbouring villages.

Learn more about Trócaire’s work in Uganda.

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