I spent last week in the North of Uganda looking to setup a sustainable WASH programs in Alebtong District. We found out that in terms of community mobilization it is a very busy time. The government of Uganda is issuing new identity cards to citizens all over the country and the registration process is at selected points on particular days which if missed would require a not particularly easy effort to go through. As soon as we reached the subcounty headquarters to announce our work in the local area, we found long queues of eager citizens each waiting for their 10-15 minutes. We had had mobilizers in the field the previous day from our NGO partner but they had not been informed of this.
However, when we went down to Akullu Afranco, a borehole names after “Franco”, mid afternoon on the 31st of August after a day of mobilization on the 30th, we found community members on site and eager to get into the discussion. We must remember that WASH is a community driven process and in order to have a successful program community leaders must be mobilized further into communities who will lead the management of boreholes and further more be directly involved in the setting of by laws and in training community members in water and sanitation.
Due to the ongoing registration process we were initially skeptical about holding a meetings since some of the old committee members were absent. However, the chairperson was adamant the agenda must proceed as those present are the ones who always showed up.
The meeting was mainly attended by the ladies of the village and they were very keen in choosing members on the committee. As per requirements by law, 5 of ten members must be female and the others male.
After forming these committees, the memberss were informed of their responsibilities.
Among the responsibilities is,
- Organizing community meetings to discuss wash issues
- Maintaining cleanliness around the boreholes
- Enforcing the to be agreed on rules.
- maintaining a list of all the households that use the boreholes
- Managing the cash collections made from communities for their activities, a requirement by law.
We took some time to explain certain aspects of why health and sanitation are important. We discussed how boreholes get contaminated and why they should be kept clean.
At the end of this session, community members were satisfied. The next is to pass on the specifics of WASH management which we could not do that day because of the shortage of time. WASH meetings are still going on , today as well, for other boreholes in order to cover the 10 boreholes in our network. I will write about those subsequently.