Translating as "Our Clean Water", the Piwa Maleng project aims to improve access to safe, clean water and reduce teenage pregnancy rates in Amuru District, Northern Uganda.
In the Lamogi and Pabbo sub-counties of Amuru District, Nothern Uganda, more than 30% of people do not have access to a clean water source close to their homes. Girls and women walk an average of three kilometres to fetch water, which places them at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). As a result, teenage pregnancy rates across both sub-counties are the highest in the district.
A major challenge faced by the community is the large number of non-functional boreholes: of the 540 water sources in place, in 2019, 105 of these were no longer functional. Between 2020 and 2021, Amref Health Africa’s Piwa Maleng project (“Our Clean Water” in Acholi) addressed this issue by repairing 45 of the non-functional boreholes and drilling four new ones. The project used an integrated, community-led approach to water management: as well as repairing the boreholes, we also provided training to equip the community with the skills, knowledge, and resources required to ensure the boreholes are properly maintained in years to come.
However, COVID-19 is exacerbating the challenges faced by the community in relation to limited water access. Without clean, safe water sources, it is impossible to implement the necessary sanitation and hygiene practices for keeping the community safe. Not only that, but school closures and lockdown measures have left students – particularly girls – more vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence at home and in the community.
From September 2021, the Piwa Maleng project entered its second phase. The latest iteration combines interventions in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) with training on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) to enable girls and women to access water safely and make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
The project, which will run until 2026, aims to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and improve access to clean water for 39,000 people living in Lamogi and Pabbo. We will do so by drilling or repairing 18 boreholes in the region, as well as setting up pioneering solar-powered water systems to supply 18 primary schools and 62 villages with safe water, with each system capable of pumping water to up to four villages.
In tandem, the project will provide SRHR training for the community, particularly young people, both in and out of school. This approach will ensure that adolescent girls, women, and their communities can access water safely and equitably, while also gaining a better understanding of their sexual and reproductive rights and how to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
Amref Health Africa wishes to thank our anonymous donor for making this project possible.
Images © Ambrose Watanda