Katunguru-Kasese 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

Uniting Strengths for Prosperity

by fontes on 22/07/2016 No comments

Installed in 2011, the Safe Water Project in Katunguru-Kasese is Fontes Foundation’s biggest water project, serving approximately 2,000 people. Due to the rapid population growth and the increased demand for safe drinking water resulting thereof, Fontes Foundation, with the generous support of Lions Club Oslo-Slemdal (Norway), carried out an extension of the current water system in January 2016.

The newly constructed second water tower with the elevated storage tank.

The newly constructed second water tower with the elevated storage tank.

To guarantee that the water pressure is high enough for further water system extensions in the village, an additional steel water tower has been constructed and connected to the old one, with the result that the whole water system is now on high-pressure connections. In addition, a second settlement tank has been installed to further increase the production capacity of the system.

Besides the installation of new hardware, the already existing water treatment container has been reworked by installing a proper iron sheet roof, fixing and cleaning up the inside and painting both the in- as well as the outside of the container. With this extension successfully put in place, the Katunguru- Kasese water committee will be able to cover the increasing water demand of the village in the future.

– written by Michael Pletscher

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fontesUniting Strengths for Prosperity

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

Continuous and Sustainable Growth of the Water Scheme

by fontes on 01/05/2013 No comments

Fontes Foundation continues its commitment to increase safe water access among the people of Katunguru-Kasese fishing village.

Villagers and Fontes Foundation's field staff member Ibrahim Ssemakula installing the new 400 m long water pipe which delivers water for the new public tap station.

Villagers and Fontes Foundation’s field staff member Ibrahim Ssemakula installing the new 400 m long water pipe which delivers water for the new public tap station.

As Abraham Maslow expressed in his theory of human motivation, “human beings can only develop the desire for a higher level need if the lower level need has been met”. A similar situation is unfolding in Katunguru-Kasese fishing village. Before the construction of the safe water supply scheme in their village, people used to fetch water from Kazinga channel for their domestic use while those who could afford used to get it from Kyambura in Rubirizi district which is about 5 kilometeres away. This was because the water in Kazinga channel was highly contaminated with a lot of organic materials. Obviously, the water fetched from the channel has a very bad taste and can cause a lot of different diseases. Additionally, a lot of villagers were not aware of the fact that they were getting sick because of the bad water quality in the channel. Therefore, informing the people about the negative consequences of fetching water in the channel and the positive consequences of a safe water scheme is absolutely crucial. Otherwise, people do not see the benefits of such a change, and will refuse to pay for purchasing water at the scheme, even though it would be easily affordable for them.

One of the currently 8 private connections which have been installed in Katunguru-Kasese since the construction of the scheme in 2010.

One of the currently 8 private connections which have been installed in Katunguru-Kasese since the construction of the scheme in 2010.

Since the scheme’s construction in 2010, the demand for safe water in the village has continuously grown. At the time of construction of the scheme, one would think that one public stand would be enough as it was not clear whether the people would change from using the Kazinga channel water that they had used for decades. However, this was a wrong assumption, as most people embraced the safe water from the scheme, leading to congestion at the public stand that had four taps. Some people applied for the water lines to be extended to their homesteads so that they could have taps in order to supplement the public tap and this resulted in private connections. Those people realised the benefits of the new water scheme and with the installation of this private connections, their lives become more convenient.

A second water storage tank has been installed on the newly constructed water tower. The reason is to increase the water pressure for the private connections, which need a higher pressure than the public tap stations.

A second water storage tank has been installed on the newly constructed water tower. The reason is to increase the water pressure for the private connections, which need a higher pressure than the public tap stations.

Most people would expect that a fishing village cannot be able to run and sustain a pumped piped scheme, but the water user committee for the scheme has done a great job and has managed to do some reasonable extensions and private connections from the main pipe line. Recognizing the efforts of the community members, Fontes Foundation has carried out an extension of the scheme by four hundred metres into one of the corners of the village and put up another public stand pipe with four taps. In order to improve the pressure of the water, a water tower has also been constructed. With those improvements on the scheme, more private connections can be connected to the scheme which will increase the revenue collections to maintain the scheme. All of that would have not been possible without the support of the Lions Club Slemdal in Oslo, Norway, who funded the initial phase and the extension of the scheme.

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fontesContinuous and Sustainable Growth of the Water Scheme

Lions Club Oslo-Slemdal from Norway Visiting Their Water Supply Project

by fontes on 18/01/2012 No comments

The safe water project of Katunguru‐Kasese, which was implemented in September 2011, has been one of the major activities of the Lions Club Slemdal in Oslo, Norway for the last year. With big interest among the Clubʹs members to see how the project hat been realized with their own eyes, finally, in late January, a large group of club members visited the village and were invited to a wonderful ceremony to inaugurate the water project. It was a warm welcome by both the people and the authorities. The colorful and inspiring dancing gave everyone an unforgettable impression. Besides understanding and learning more about the hardship of these fishing villages in the West of Uganda situated inside the Queen Elizabeth National Park, it was the enthusiasm, the will to change their future and the effort to make a water supply a daily improvement of their own health and prosperity, which gave the Club members much more than what they expected from the trip.

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fontesLions Club Oslo-Slemdal from Norway Visiting Their Water Supply Project

Drinking Water for 3000 People

by fontes on 30/09/2011 No comments

Fontes Foundation is proud of expanding the project area across the Kazinga Channel to Katunguru, Kasese District. Between the 12th and 15th of September, a team of 7 employees and volunteers installed the latest water supply system in the area, funded by Lions Club Slemdal, Norway. Owing to a huge effort made by the community, safe water was available at the temporary tap station after only three and a half days of work. Two ten thousand litres storage tanks on top of a shipping container provide the community with fresh drinking water now.

On the last day of the implementation, the election and training of the water committee, which is in charge of running the water supply system, initiated the important follow-up phase. Fontes Foundation henceforth supports the village in making the system sustainable through multiple field trips.

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fontesDrinking Water for 3000 People