Despite recent growth in the economy, Uganda is facing a national water crisis. Almost 24 million people in Uganda do not have access to clean water. On average each person in Uganda uses only about 4.7 gallons of water a day. Communities need clean water sources for drinking, cooking, farming and general personal hygiene. Clean water scarcity creates difficulties for all of these basic needs and negatively impacts the economy.
What Uganda’s Water Crisis Looks Like
Although Uganda experienced three decades of a growing economy, almost 40% of Ugandans still live on less than a dollar a day. In addition to its history of poverty, many people in Uganda struggle to find clean water. Traditionally, communities with high poverty rates rely heavily on natural water sources because they lack the technology to build wells and plumbing. The lack of clean water sources in impoverished communities propels the cycle of poverty.
A video by a global relief organization called Generosity.org documents the lives of Ugandans who struggle to find clean water. The video features a Ugandan mother, Hanna Augustino, who spends three hours a day getting water for her family of nine. Hanna explains that the water is so dirty it has worms and gives them diseases like Typhoid Fever. However, when the family gets sick, they cannot afford to go to the hospital. The lack of clean water in an already impoverished community leads to disease. In 2015 Uganda experienced a Typhoid Fever outbreak that was mainly due to contaminated water sources. For many in these communities, medical care is unaffordable. The water crisis causes a need for medical care for a treatable disease. The need for more medical care creates more financial hardship on families already struggling in poverty.
In addition to disease, collecting water is very time-consuming. In some areas like Hanna’s, it can take hours to retrieve water. People spend hours getting water instead of working to provide income for their families or as caregivers themselves. Water retrieval is another aspect of the water crisis that negatively impacts local economies and continues the cycle of poverty.
Farmers are some of the most negatively impacted by the water crisis. Farming and agriculture make up a large part of the Ugandan economy. Poverty-stricken communities need water sources for irrigation and farming, which some families rely on as a household income. About 24% of Uganda’s GDP comes from agriculture. This portion of the economy is dependent on clean, accessible water sources. Without clean water sources, farmers’ animals and crops would die. Without farmers, local communities would have no food. As a result, farmers are an important local resource for local communities and an important cog in local economies.
A Helping Hand
Despite the rippling effects of the water crisis, there are many organizations working to alleviate the crisis. For instance, Lifewater is an organization that funds “water projects.” These projects build clean water sources for villages that have none. Lifewater is currently funding 220 water projects in Uganda alone. If you are interested in learning more about Lifewater, you can go to their website at Lifewater.org.
Lifewater is one of many organizations working to provide villages in Uganda with clean water. Along with being essential to human life, water can affect many different aspects of daily life. Spending hours fetching water or drinking dirty, disease-ridden water can negatively impact the local economy. Any negative impact on the economy is especially devastating for communities already affected by poverty. Like Lifewater, there are many organizations bettering local economies through their clean water efforts.
– Kaitlyn Gilbert