UNICEF, UK gov’t target over 30,000 beneficiaries with shs1bn solar water systems in Kassanda

In response to last year’s Ebola outbreak in Uganda UNICEF has partnered with the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to provide critical support to enhance health and resilience in Kassanda, one of the affected districts.

On Tuesday, UNICEF and the FCDO donated seven solar-powered water systems  worth $272000( approximately shs1 billion) to seven health centres including Makokoto, Buseregenyu, Musozi, Kyamunswa, Nalutuntu, Kijjuna and Namabaale to ensure access to clean and safe water as a way of enhancing sanitation and hygiene.

This would in turn benefit over  30,000 people including patients, health workers and the surrounding community.

According to officials, the beneficiary health facilities were chosen  basing  on  a criteria established by the district, the district health and water offices in consideration of the volume of patients and limited availability of Safe water.

Munir Safieldin, the UNICEF Uganda representative said the lack of infection prevention and control in many health facilities exacerbate  the Ebola situation last year, noting that health facilities must have the very basic of water supply and sanitation in order for the medical teams to be able to wash their hands properly after examining every patient in the lab..

"Many of the health workers became victims of Ebola and also  transmitted it to other patients who came for other services to the same health facility. We therefore, took it upon ourselves together with the British High Commission, together with the Ministry of Health and together with the leadership of Kassanda that we don't want Ebola or any transfer of any disease to hit back without being very much prepared to prevent and control it,” Safieldin said.

He noted that the seven water systems are solar powered because its clean and sustainable and doesn't need electricity.

"Solar power is clean, sustainable and it's of cost that you make one time and then it turns on itself. You don't need electricity, you don't need generators, you don't need fuel and at the same time, the water supply systems are serving the health facility and the neighbouring community."

He promised to consider the expansion of the water supply beyond health facilities to schools especially those not far from this outsourcing.

Phillip Smith, Head of Development Cooperation, British High Commission said one of the prerequisites for an Ebola response is clean water.

He noted  that over 40% of health facilities in Uganda do not have access to fresh water which triggered them to come out to ensure that they provide water facilities like boreholes to support that immediate Ebola response.

"The investment that the UK government has made here, is thinking about future outbreaks as I say it's really important that health facilities like this one have access to clean water." He added

Smith added that the scheme will not only help heath facilities, but also communities, providing benefits in terms of food security through allowing people to irrigate.

He noted the project will UNICEF to provide support to l priority health centres  in Kassanda District, aligning with the Ministry of Health's post-Ebola recovery and preparedness plan.

Faheera Mpalanyi Bbosa, the Deputy RDC Kassanda urged  members of the community to have it as a routine, to tell young ones to wash their hands and also to remind the elders saying there's no way a community can develop when its people are unhealthy.

She applauded UNICEF and UK for the great developments in her area and cautioned community members to jealously protect and keep these facilities safe.

According to officials, the project will also include drilling of production wells with confirmed water yields  installation of solar-powered pumps for boreholes, construction of 20,000-liter overhead storage reservoirs, installation of transmission and distribution piped networks to laboratories and maternity wards, establishment of dedicated tap stands at health centre staff quarters and provision of community tap stands to prevent pressure on health centre premises.

This is expected to enhance healthcare services, resilience of the healthcare system in the area, improve sanitation and hygiene, ensure climate resilience but also ensure community involvement since the water systems are integrated into surrounding communities, fostering sustainability through economic integration, including water user fees.

Whereas UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) made a contribution of approximately $257,000 allocated from the FCDO BRAER grant to support the Ebola response and post-Ebola recovery and preparedness activities, the same was topped up with approximately $ 15,000 additional UNICEF resources through SIDA thematic funds to enable us to reach a total of seven health care facilities with new water systems. 




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