Rwenzori VIllage, Uganda is located in Kyankwanzi District, Nsambya Subcountry, Kigiyikwa Parish. The community has over 230 households, with two churches within walking distance, as well as a trading center and a Mosque farther out.
The current water sources are open ponds in the areas surrounding the village. These muddy ponds do tend to get low in the dry season. The water currently comes from muddy ponds around the village. They are deep in places, and the villagers have put logs in place to try to help the women and children gathering water to do so safely. However this is still very dangerous and village children risk drowning for water that may make them sick when they drink it. There are also two main roads near the village, so if the ponds get low during dry season, and the women and children must go further away from the safety of the village, they run the risk of being vulnerable to sexual assault. We have heard too many stories from mothers and their children to ignore that danger.
The water from the new well is intended primarily for human consumption. Small gardens are sometimes placed at the runoff
channels for the well’s cement collar, making sure that even the small amount of water that splashes off of the containers is
used wisely, but that will be up to the village council.
We have been drilling in the area for over a decade with a dedicated drill team. Herbert, our man on the ground, is on our payroll and has been working for and with us since CEED’s inception in 1999. He has handpicked and trained his two drill teams.
The cost of a well is broken down between the raw costs of supplies and the cost of labor. We do our best to make sure that our teams are paid fair wages for drilling so that they can support their families. After all a workman is worth their wages. We do keep a small admin hold back from every donation, 9% in total, which we have dropped from 10%. We have recently raised the well cost we give to donors to $5000, but we kept the $450 admin hold that we were always using since the Ugandan cost of a well rose, but the US cost did not. The admin hold goes to keeping the lights on and for the hours US side spent managing wells and donations. This also goes to rig maintenance as all spare parts needed are ordered from the US office out of the admin account. The additional $500 now goes to Uganda to cover the increase in local supply costs as well as to raise the wages of our teams to cover the cost of living increase that
they have faced in recent months.
We learned through experience that this process changes the way the village thinks about the well. They keep it clean and weeded, they check the pump and make sure that it is working, they do some basic preventative care and maintenance, and they take the initiative to contact us if something is wrong.
It’s also a good process because it means that once the well is in the ground it is self-sustaining and will not be reliant on American donors for its continued functioning. One of CEEDs goals is always to create self-sustaining communities that have the dignity and ability to use what we gift them with as little outside interference as possible. We do check on the wells though, as part of the contract is that they must keep up with well upkeep. That said, we have never not done a repair, the money they collect is less to make sure that repair costs are covered in the future, and more so that the village takes ownership. It’s a cultural matter and a matter of pride and dignity for the village to say that they can take care of the maintenance of the wells.
We know after surveys that the villages that get one of these wells have a 75-80% reduction in illness. That means the villagers are spending 75% less of their lives sick. They are then able to work, go to school and live their lives without the constant threat of typhoid, cholera, diphtheria. This also means that they can hold down jobs, since most workers there aren’t protected if they get sick. Jobs go to those who can work. Waterborne illness, therefore, directly contributes to the poverty cycle, and clean water can help break that.
And women are safer when a well goes in. We do our best to ensure that husbands understand that they must care for their wives, and that domestic abuse isn’t tolerated in villages that have our wells. Currently many village women in many villages in Uganda live in
fear of being beaten if their daily chores aren’t done quickly enough. When you must carry and boil the water before you can use it, this fear grows.
And gathering water from open water sources also exposes women and children to predators of both the human and animal nature. 1 in 4 Ugandan women report that they have been raped; it’s a common threat in their world. If a woman leaves the safety of her village, she is vulnerable. And there is rarely justice for these women. A well will keep them safe, because the village is typically a protected space, while the roadways and grasslands in between villages aren’t. And when water is scarce in dry season, disputes can rise over water sources, with physically stronger groups of men
We always use our drilling opportunities as a disciple making outreach. We try to dig our wells near churches or schools. We also use the drilling itself as an outreach. One of our donors many years ago donated a solar powered projection system. During the drilling people come from miles around to watch the drilling while it is happening. While that is going on the projection system is being charged. Then at night we set up the projector and play ‘The Jesus Film’ a film about Jesus’s life, ministry, death and resurrection in the local dialect of the area where the well is being drilled. Then when the well is completed, we add a plaque with the donor’s names and usually a verse telling the village why the water was gifted to them. The dedications are done by the local ministers of the church, turning even that event into a praise meeting.
This well will be close to two churches, and a mosque further out. It will likely become a meeting space where all can gather. And knowing that Christian brothers and sisters in America donated the well is a powerful evangelistic tool. It shows the compassion of
Jesus in a practical way.
All projects are made possible by World Changers.