Introduction Walking through the Katwe slums in Uganda is a challenge. There is not a step one can take without stepping on trash or waste. Hundreds of thousands of people call Katwe, Uganda their home.
There is one water source that all of the people gather water from and it is nothing close to clean. The slum’s scenery is mounds of rotting trash and ditches holding still water with banks of rancid waste. From all directions, children are seen lugging around jerry cans, some of which are almost as big as the kids themselves, for holding water—children who should be in school, or kicking a soccer ball with friends.
Neil Ford (2010), the writer of an article published in African Business, reports that for seventy-three percent of the people in Uganda, this is their life and all that they know. He also claims that six hundred and sixty-three million people lack access to clean drinking water today. People in Uganda do not have access to clean water. They do not have the government support, funds, or proper resources to gain access to clean water. If they do not drink or use the water available to them, they will die; however, if they do drink or use it, the chances of them getting sick or dying are great. Wells often become contaminated, and river water is full of bacteria.
Matthew Spowart (2012) says that even if the water is clean initially, it is often contaminated during transportation and storage because most people do not know the proper sanitation and hygiene methods. In Uganda, the growing population, poor distribution of resources from the government, and high costs to build water infrastructure are the leading causes of the water crisis which lead to illness, the inability to work and go to school, and death.Why Uganda? There is no single cause for the water crisis in Uganda, Africa. Most of the problem has been a result of a growing population, a lack of government intervention, and a high cost for proper water systems. Paul Hunter, Alan MacDonald, and Richard Carter (2010), the authors of the article “Water Supply and Health” say, “Currently, there are 27.7 million people living in Uganda. By 2025 this number is predicted to double to fifty-six million. With these numbers, Uganda is on track to have the World’s greatest population growth (3.
3%), which will definitely put stress on the availability of resources,” (p. 6). Overpopulation in Uganda is an increasingly large problem. The more people that are living there, the more resources that are being used and the less resources that are available. Most families have several children so that they may help with the work and farming. However, there are more mouths to feed and more people to take care of. In addition to the growing population, Uganda’s government is unaware of the lack of access to clean water in the rural areas.
They do not see the growing need and issues stemming from the problem on an everyday basis. Because they are not always aware of the need, the government distributes resources unevenly, giving the cities the majority of the resources and leaving the poverty stricken people with little to nothing. Matthew Spowart (2012), in his article “Educational Concerns of Implementing Biosand Water Filters in Rural Uganda,” claims, “Large-scale water treatment is expensive and requires infrastructure capabilities that are often absent in low-resource settings,” (p. 16). The people of Uganda are required to pay a large amount of money in order to have clean water. Fogden reports that the cost of building proper water sanitation facilities is incredibly high in developing countries because the resources are not always easy to come by (p.39). Uganda is mainly agriculture and equipment for large facilities is rare.
Also, the many construction workers and plumbers or water specialists needed would have educations and would be expected to be paid more than an average worker.Diseases That Kill Waterborne diseases are the biggest killer for people across Uganda. Illnesses such as HIV, AIDS, typhoid fever, and cholera are common among the people due to the water they drink. One article claims, “A poor water supply impacts health by causing acute infectious diarrhoea, repeat or chronic diarrhoea episodes, and non diarrhoeal diseases. It can also affect health by limiting productivity and the maintenance of personal hygiene” (Hunter, MacDonald, Carter, 2012, p. 1). Acute diarrhea and vomiting are common and are among the symptoms of most, if not all, of these diseases and often come on their own leading to dehydration and the inability to keep what little nutrition they have in their already frail bodies.
The research project done by Robert Hecky, Jackson Kitamirike, Frederick Muyodi, and Robinson Odong (2009) which was recorded in the article “Trends in Health Risks From Water-Related Diseases and Cyanotoxins in Ugandan Portion of Lake Victoria Basin” provides evidence that says, “The first HIV/AIDS case was diagnosed in Uganda in 1982. Since that year, more than 2.2 million people have been infected, with eight hundred thirty-eight thousand having since died, leaving behind nearly 1.7 million orphans,” (p. 248). The amount of diseases that come from the water is rapidly increasing each year. However, the numbers are much higher for these numbers are only the cases that have been diagnosed, they are not counting the ones who cannot get to a doctor or be treated by a professional. One author claims, “There is a strong link between repeat or chronic diarrhoeal disease, malnutrition, and the poor emotional and physical growth that can seriously affect the ability of children to reach their full potential,” (Hunter, MacDonald, Carter, 2010, p.
6). The lack of clean water affects the ways that children learn and grow. All of these effects stemming from diseases are directly coming from the bad water and are keeping children from moving out of poverty and making their futures healthier and brighter.No Education, No Future When children get sick, they are unable to go to school, subsequently keeping them from getting a proper education. Josephine Fogden (2009), the author of a study for HaloSource, Inc, writes, “.
.. improving education standards in Uganda is dependent upon access to safe drinking water,” (p. 20). Without an education, people are limited to future job opportunities thus keeping them in the poverty loop. In Uganda, the children often do the chores of the household. Among other things, this includes collecting the water for the day. These chores take up ample amounts of time which keeps the children from being able to attend school or learn a trade.
Without any education, they are able to get a stable job in the future. Amber Pearson (2016) performed a study to find the amount of access that people in different areas in Uganda have to a water source, the time spent retrieving the water, and the actual distance to the source. She tested five different households in Uganda. Pearson used self-reported measurements from the people that she studied and compared them to the GPS results from the experiment.
She combined the results of her research with other evidence such as facts and statistics about the average distance that many have to travel and the dangers that come along with that. She found that the average miles one walked to reach his or her water source was five miles (Pearson, 2016, p. 5). She also found that whoever retrieves the water children often spend up to six hours a day fetching the water (Pearson, 2016, p. 5).
This trek keeps the children from going to school and learning valuable skills for the future. Most have to travel several miles by themselves to their water source which poses the threat of sexual assault on their way to such remote and dangerous places. Spowart (2012) claims in his report that having clean water will fix most health problems in Uganda in the sense that people will have more time to get an education, stay closer to home, bathe and relieve themselves in privacy, and be safer because they would not have to travel long distances (p. 60). Waterborne illnesses prevent children from attending school. He also claims that it is estimated that a lack of safe drinking water costs four hundred and forty-three million school days a year throughout the world (Spowart, 2012, p.
59). Any child who is kept from attending school is unable to learn as well which will keep them from moving out of poverty in the future. Their learning abilities are delayed from malnutrition and when children miss school, they miss important lessons or studies.Conclusion and Further Study An ever-growing population, a lack of government interference and uneven distribution of resources across the country, and the high cost of water production are some of the many causes of the water crisis in Uganda. Many deadly disease are direct effects of contaminated water in Uganda. Because of these diseases, children are often unable to gain an education and learn skills that would be of value to them in the future. These children are also not able to work if they are sick.
If they cannot work, they cannot get out of the poverty loop in the future. Every day is a challenge for the people who have little or no access to clean water. The lack of access to clean drinking water in Uganda, Africa has led to deadly diseases and the incredible challenge for children to leave the poverty loop in the future.
The people of Uganda need to be taught the proper sanitation and hygiene methods so that they may reduce the amount of water-borne diseases among their families and people. Also, water filters and water cleaning methods should be distributed, implemented, and educated on in as many communities and homes as possible.