Recently, the International Lifeline Fund team in Uganda and one of its community-based Water User Committees (WUC) in Lira, were unknowingly put to the test. Triple S-Uganda, Sustainable Services at Scale, asked the respective organizations in Lira to report on the good practices in place at their water sources. The ILF sanitation team put together a comprehensive report on the Okello Amuku well, in Akolodong Village. It was a surprise, however, when the Lira District Water and Sanitation Coordination Committee (DWSCC) showed up unannounced at the village to measure its aptitude.
Fortunately the Akolodong Village Water User Committee was prepared for the challenge. Of the five sources visited, the Okello Amuku well placed at the top of the properly managed sites.
The analysis of Triple S-Uganda’s report uncovered three key aspects that influence effective water source management. The first is active participation from the community members themselves, and a dedicated community-based management team. The appointment of women WUC members also appears to positively affect the productivity as women have more time to dedicate to the committee. The second aspect is the level of training provided to the WUC and the subsequent implementation of those skills. One example is the ability to enforce the by-laws established by the committee which is crucial to maintaining the cleanliness of the water source. Finally, the assessment found that praise and encouragement from outside visitors and monitoring groups is a strong motivating factor for the community to keep up the best practices. All factors were found actively in place at Akolodong Village.
Drilled in 2009, the Okello Amuku water source is accessed by the 156 members of the Akolodong Village. The seven women and men of the Water User Committee are community members, and work to actively engage the whole community in upkeep of the water source; from general cleaning to collecting the requisite contribution of funds from within the community. Additionally, the village has hygiene and sanitation trainers (VHSTs) that work to improve the sanitation practices and general hygiene knowledge both at the water point and the household level. All members of the village have access to proper sanitation devices including seventy-two latrines, twenty-seven bath shelters, twelve drying racks, and three refuse pits. The WUC also strictly upholds the sanitation by-laws that govern access to the water source, deter mismanagement, and fine or suspend the community or committee members that misbehave or soil the water source. Overall, the leaders and water users of Okello Amuku well say they feel encouraged and motivated when the ILF staff visit their water source regularly, and proudly embrace their leadership.