Kashaka Water

Community Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

by fontes on 23/06/2017 No comments

Fontes Foundation is specialized in community development through the implementation of safe water systems and education projects. We pride ourselves in our long-term approach and focus on sustainability. In effect, in twelve years of being active in supplying water to disadvantaged communities as an entry point to escape poverty, we were able to attain a retention rate of a 100% of our portfolio projects. One of the main pillars of our long-term approach is Community Involvement. This article briefly touches on benefits and costs of this form of organizing our projects and discusses ways to smooth the processes.

There are many benefits that come with the involvement of the respective communities and the employing of local resources. Most of them are related to the creation of ownership. By closely involving the communities in the planning, implementing and running of our projects, we aim to establish a sense of ownership and thereby increase of responsibility within the community.  However, deep community involvement also bears the potential of challenges. Some challenges are found in the implementation of sound management processes.

Most failures in management result from three major reasons; first, the attitude of the community towards money collection. It is a common belief in some communities that it is legitimate for the volunteering water committee to use some of the money collected from water sales to cover their basic needs, instead of improving and maintaining the water system. This misunderstanding can lead to mismanagement of funds by the water community, which comes with terrible consequences in case of defects in the water systems.

Secondly, due to a low democratic capacity, it is possible that the community elects people for short-term personal gains instead of by reason of capability.  In unfortunate cases, this can result in locally elected representatives with little inspiration or interest of developing the water project, in the worst case even to an embezzlement of funds. Lastly, the high illiteracy level among people in rural Uganda is a prevalent challenge. Literacy constitutes the minimum criteria for some of the positions within the water committee, such as chairman, treasurer and secretary, in order to being able to conduct their tasks. These criteria unfortunately exclude a part of the population from being eligible to the mentioned positions.

Workshop on financial management

Over the years, we developed different tools to tackle the mentioned challenges. Regarding the financial management issues, we have been increasingly focused on educating the water committees in cash management and basic accounting. For this to be successful, it is important to keep the tools simple and to move step by step as well as to let the committees try and fail.

To foster the democratic capacity of the communities, we educate communities about the importance of electing strong and responsible water committees. Through workshops and capacity buildings that are organized at least once every year, Fontes teaches roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder in the community, aiming at improving the understanding of the entire system. We constantly remind the members of the community that the project belongs to the community and not Fontes Foundation. The community should therefore take responsibility for inventory of the systems, and supervise the water committee, which is directly accountable to them.

To solve the illiteracy issue, Fontes has started a scholarship program where a child is selected from the villages basing on performance, discipline and the financial status of the guardian or parent. The program covers four years of high school and two years of vocational training. This has been very fruitful, two former students, Cleophas and Pascal supervise the water projects on behalf of Fontes Foundation.

In addition to these formalized efforts, we need to stay open-minded to learn and flexible to find individual solutions, adapted to specific occasions. This was apparent in a recent case, when a respected treasurer turned blind. Since the community insisted on keeping the experienced treasurer, we agreed on appointing an assistant to help him, who takes over the reading and writing. In this way we managed to ensure the completion of the task without interfering with the decision of the local community.

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fontesCommunity Involvement is crucial to the Sustainability of the Water Projects

2016 Safe Water Seminar

by fontes on 20/12/2016 No comments

This year, Fontes Foundation was able to hold a safe water seminar for the first time since 2012, thanks to a generous donation from the Pharo Foundation. The water seminar took place in Katunguru-Kasese from 24th-25th November, 2016. The objective of the water seminar was to improve financial and technical capabilities of the Fontes Foundation water committees to ensure adequate water service delivery to the community. The seminar addressed a number of areas that are vital for ensuring effective water committee management, these included community mobilization, financial management and technical training.

Water seminars present an opportunity for the different water committees to come together and share experiences and learn from one another. During the seminar participants were encouraged to actively engage in discussions, group work and presentations. In addition, local leaders and other stakeholders were also invited to the seminar to facilitate relationship building and community mobilization.

The seminar was a huge success, the organizers were met with extremely engaged and motivated participants. The feedback from the participants was overwhelmingly positive, they expressed how the opportunity allowed them to network and make friends, develop new skills, to share experiences and gain knowledge about project management. In their feedback, many of the participants suggested yearly water seminars. We are therefore happy to announce that Pharo Foundation has provided funding for three consecutive years. We look forward to next year’s water seminar and seeing how the committees are progressing as a result of such training sessions.


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fontes2016 Safe Water Seminar

How invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

by fontes on 09/12/2016 No comments

The Fontes Foundation team has just returned from a field trip in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where the main purpose of the trip was to conduct follow-ups in all of our water and education projects and hold a two-day water seminar for the Fontes water committees. The Fontes team observed how the water committees were taking charge and creating positive change in their water systems by showing a greater commitment to project maintenance, upscaling the water systems and coming up with innovative solutions to reoccurring problems.

Across all water projects, committees were improving their systems by ensuring regular maintenance. The committees weren’t just making small repairs, they were also undertaking more substantive maintenance. When a filter broke in Kazinga, the water committee raised money to buy and replace the broken parts. In both Kazinga and Kashaka the water committees have replaced broken doors at the tap stands and water meters. In Kiseyni, the committee brought in technical expertise to fix a broken intake cable. While the water committee in Katuguru-Kasese has put concrete around their intake for lasting stability.

The Fontes team was impressed by some of the water committees, who were taking initiative and upscaling their water systems. In Kisenyi, the water committee has installed an additional public tap stand to accommodate those people in the village who live further away from the two main public tap stands. They have plans to install another two public tap stands in the near future to ensure that the whole community has easy access to clean water. Katunguru-Kasese and Katunguru-Rubirizi are both continuing to install private connections. Kasese currently has 25 private connections. Such private connections and additional public tap stands provide the water committees with greater income and savings to better manage the systems and ensure the system’s sustainability.

Lastly, the water committees demonstrated their ability to implement innovative and preventable solutions to reoccurring problems. In Kisenyi, the water committee came up with an environmentally sustainable solution to animals destroying the fence that surrounds the water tanks. The committee has created a natural fence by planting trees. After loosing a technician, the water committee in Kashaka is providing technical training to multiple people in the community to ensure that information is never lost and that they can always find a quick replacement technician if needed. In Katunguru-Kasese the water committee is testing out a new type of tap that has a gate valve, in an attempt to stop leakages. Finally, to fix the problem of chemical shortages, all five water committees are considering buying chemicals together in bulk and storing them in Katunguru-Kasese, as it has the most accessible road. By buying in bulk together, all water committees will ensure that their water system will never suffer from chemical shortages again.

At Fontes, we believe that greater community participation in development projects leads to improved resource sustainability and quality of infrastructure. As the Fontes water committees actively invest in maintaining, improving and managing their water systems their communities will continue to benefit from the Fontes safe water projects for years to come.

The new 'gate valve' taps in Katunguru-Kasese

The new ‘gate valve’ taps in Katunguru-Kasese

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fontesHow invested community participation leads to greater water system sustainability

Celebrating ten years in Queen Elizabeth National Park

by Michael Pletscher on 11/02/2015 No comments

The implementation of a new solar panel and settlement tank in the village of Kazinga in western Uganda marked the ten year anniversary of Fontes Foundations first water project in Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP). Ten years with progress and development.

One of the Fountes Foundations`founders, Andreas Koestler, is adressing Kazinga village.

One of the Fountes Foundations`founders, Andreas Koestler, is adressing Kazinga village.

Ten years with safe water

Fontes Foundations first water project in QENP was implemented in 2004 due to dire demand for safe water in the fishing villages inside the park. People were suffering from waterborne diseases and, in addition, fetching water in the lake was dangerous. There are crocodiles and hippos lurching in the water, and along the path down to the lake, several people were attacked by lions. Upon a request from the Uganda Wildlife Authorities (UWA) and the local community, it was decided to install a small surface water treatment plant in the village of Katunguru-Rubirizi in February 2004.

When the project was first installed, the village only had a couple of hundred inhabitants. In the last years, the national park headquarters were moved to Katunguru, a secondary school has opened, and a small hospital has been built. People say all this happened because they have access to safe water. In the long term, the effect of providing safe water has shown to be much larger than only reducing diseases. Since the first water instalment in 2004, Fontes Foundations water projects now cover five villages, and provides clean drinking water for thousands of people on a daily basis.

The new installations

The anniversary was celebrated with a function and the implementation of a new settlement tank and a solar panel in Kazinga village, which will result in lower running costs, and make the water system more sustainable. Fontes Foundation celebrated with the local water committees, political leaders, UWA, donors and the community.

Make a difference!

Through the development of basic infrastructure such as water supply, sanitation and education facilities, Fontes Foundation aims to improve the standard of living and well-being of people in Uganda. Using a participatory approach, appropriate and affordable technology is selected with a long-term perspective and sustainability in mind. All this is made possible through the continued effort from our donors: Support Fontes Foundation today: http://fontes.no/foundation/donate/


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Michael PletscherCelebrating ten years in Queen Elizabeth National Park

The Fontes Team Heads to the Field to Follow Up on Some Projects

by Michael Pletscher on 16/09/2014 No comments

The Fontes Foundation field trip team has just come back from a trip following up the organisation’s water and education projects in Queen Elizabeth National Park. The main purpose of the trip was to conduct technical training for the water committees in our project villages with the help of our Field Assistant Pascal and our Technical Consultant Ibrahim. In addition, both our scholarship students as well as their parents got career guidance sessions from our Youth Programme Coordinator Apiyo about what the students can do with their secondary school education after graduation.

The Fontes Foundation team also visited Kashaka, south-west Uganda. The local water committee of the Fontes safe water scheme in Kashaka was proud to inform the team that the intake rack and the solar panels that were installed in May in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders (EWB) are working flawlessly and have led to a considerable reduction of the running costs of the scheme. The committee also managed to install an additional fence above the intake to protect it against unauthorized access as well as to reduce the danger for children playing next to the steep shore.

During the community meeting, it turned out that the community is very happy with the performance of the water committee and that communication between the two is good and based on mutual trust.

Fontes Foundation would like to use this opportunity to thank EWB again for the good collaboration regarding this project implementation and is looking forward towards future common undertakings

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Michael PletscherThe Fontes Team Heads to the Field to Follow Up on Some Projects

Humanitarian Engineering in Practice

by Michael Pletscher on 20/05/2014 No comments

A course in humanitarian engineering organized by Fontes Foundation for Engineers Without Borders Norway was a great success.

The installation of the water intake in Kashaka, Uganda during the field course - a joint effort of Engineers Without Borders and Fontes Foundation.

The installation of the water intake in Kashaka, Uganda during the field course – a joint effort of Engineers Without Borders and Fontes Foundation.

What does it take to carry out a successful engineering project in an African context? This was the key question of the “Humanitarian Engineering in Practice” course carried out by Fontes Foundation in early May this year. A group of eleven engineers from a wide area of fields such as civil engineering, water and wastewater engineering, ICT and marine technology participated in the ten-day field course held in southwestern Uganda. The overall goal of the course was for the participants to gain skill in how to work with engineering projects in emergency aid or development projects. Facilitated by Andreas Koestler, Director of Fontes Foundation, and Luke Dokter, Director of EWB Norway, the team faced the task of installing a solar power system and a new water intake for the safe water supply project in Kashaka fishing village.

The course participants installing the solar panels in Kashaka, Uganda. The panels are important for the sustainability of the water project as it will reduce the running costs.

The course participants installing the solar panels in Kashaka, Uganda. The panels are important for the sustainability of the water project as it will reduce the running costs.

Although the technical solution is not complicated in itself, implementing it under these particular circumstances is not that easy. The real challenges of implementing or improving a water system in rural Africa lie in the adaptation to social and cultural values as well as the rules of the respective society, which differ substantially from European approaches. Already in Kampala while preparing for the field trip the course participants quickly realised the crucial importance of drawing on local knowledge and resources.

In Kashaka, after a cultural briefing from the Fontes Foundation staff, the EWB team was first required to complete both technical and socio-economic assessments to get an overview of the situation in the village. With a view of informing the people of Kashaka about the purpose of the visit and ensuring cooperative collaboration, a community meeting was held to officially introduce the visitors from Norway. The involvement of the local population is crucial to develop a sense of ownership for the project among the beneficiaries. For this reason, the EWB team was actively involving the local community into the entire construction process of both the solar panels and the water intake.

The busy construction site of the new water intake just next to the existing water tanks. When assembled, the water intake tower was lowered into the water and rammed into the lakebed. The submersible pump was suspended from the middle of the tower in order to be protected from debris and animals. Note the PET bottles used for protecting the sharp edges of the tower.

The busy construction site of the new water intake just next to the existing water tanks. When assembled, the water intake tower was lowered into the water and rammed into the lakebed. The submersible pump was suspended from the middle of the tower in order to be protected from debris and animals. Note the PET bottles used for protecting the sharp edges of the tower.

After a week of hard work the water intake and the pump were firmly installed in the lake bed. At the same time the solar panels were installed providing the much-needed power to run the water pump properly. The big benefit of the solar panels is that there is no more need to pay for fuel for the pumping of the clean water. The team also installed a new fence around the pump house and the tanks to protect them from unauthorized people, playing children and animals such as hippos. The successful implementation was largely possible thanks to a very motivated and interested EWB team and the hardworking local population.

The “Humanitarian Engineering in Practice” course was a great success. Not only was all the intended hardware installed, the participants learnt a lot about working in an African setting and gained important insights into Ugandan culture, especially in rural areas. The post-course evaluation revealed that the engineers’ perception and understanding of sustainable, long-term development aid changed substantially during the ten days spent in the field and thus one of the main goals of the entire project was achieved.

The importance of considering the circumstances under which engineering projects take place was one of the main lessons learnt for EWB. The course for “Humanitarian Engineering in Practice” was also an important event for Fontes Foundation and its entire team, with great personal and professional relationships formed. As many of the participants want to work in the field of development assistance in their future careers, Fontes Foundation was able to contribute to the building up of new capacities and the promising professionals in this sector.

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Michael PletscherHumanitarian Engineering in Practice

Water Committee Seminar in Kisenyi

by fontes on 01/09/2010 No comments

In order to motivate committee members and improve their knowledge in accounting, technical issues, reporting and management, Fontes Foundation organises a water seminar every year. This year the seminar took place from the 2nd to the 3rd of September, in the village of Kisenyi, Katunguru Sub-County. More than 50 participants from five different water projects enjoyed two days of exchanges, learning and good discussions. Local authorities and other stakeholders were also present, and it was a great opportunity to streamline approaches and solve problems.

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fontesWater Committee Seminar in Kisenyi

Permanent Intake in Kashaka

by fontes on 01/09/2010 No comments

When the water supply scheme was installed in Kashaka in February 2010, a temporary intake was constructed out of timber. This was done because it was uncertain if the type of intake chosen would work well. After the intake had been in use for more than 6 months with no problems with neither wildlife nor water hyacinths, it was decided to replace it by a permanent structure made out of steel pipes. This one was installed in early September 2010. The picture shows the permanent intake being constructed, using the temporary one as a pier.

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fontesPermanent Intake in Kashaka

Implementation of Kashaka Safe Water Project

by fontes on 21/01/2010 No comments

After the assessment in November 2009 the water project in Kashaka was installed in January 2010. A surface water treatment plant was installed where the water which is withdrawn from Lake George, is first settled in a settlement tank, then passes through a sand filter and an activated carbon filter and then chlorinated. Two public stand posts were constructed where people can withdraw water nearby their homes.

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fontesImplementation of Kashaka Safe Water Project

Scholarship Students Active in Kashaka Implementation

by fontes on 01/01/2010 No comments

It is important for Fontes Foundation that the scholarship students are not only advancing academically, but that they are also exposed to other lessons important for their future. Therefore, the students have been closely involved in the water projects of Fontes Foundation. Two students, Luke and Gideon, were selected to participate during the implementation of a new water project in Kashaka village. They were extremely active and helped with translation, community mobilisation, learning basic technical tasks such as plumbing, etc. They also helped the committee in the starting phase with the management of the project.

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fontesScholarship Students Active in Kashaka Implementation