Katunguru-Rubirizi 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 of Safe Water

by Agnes Kampire on 14/05/2015 No comments

The 10-year anniversary of Fontes Foundation’s first safe water system was celebrated with the implementation of a new settlement tank and solar panel in Kazinga village, southwestern Uganda.

(Caption above: The local communities in Katunguru Sub-County, Uganda are showing their gratitude to Fontes Foundation founder Dr. Andreas Koestler at the 10-year anniversary function.)

In 2004, Fontes Foundation installed its first safe water system in the village Katunguru-Rubirizi in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park. The 10-year anniversary of this initial installation was celebrated with a function in Kazinga village 30th of January 2015 and was attended by local water committees, political leaders, donors, the local community and representatives from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). Andreas Koestler, one of the founders and the current Director of Fontes Foundation, proudly announced that the organisation’s first water system is still working and has supplied safe water for Katunguru for over ten years.

The highlight of the celebrations, however, was the implementation of a new solar panel and settlement tank in Kazinga village. The photo-voltaic solar panels needed to run the water system now only cost about a quarter of what they did when the system initially was installed in 2007. This tremendous price reduction made replacing the petrol generator with solar panels a viable option. It is also more environmental friendly. The installations of the solar panels and the new settlement tank, which were assisted by Engineers Without Borders Norway, were made possible through generous donations from Laboremus Oslo AS and Balder Foundation, both in Norway. We are grateful for these organizations’ continuous support. Fuel used to be one of the largest operating expenses for the water project in Kazinga. Now the project will have more money for maintenance of the system, which again will make the project more sustainable.

Fontes Foundation’s first safe water project in Katunguru-Rubirizi, Uganda was implemented due to dire demand for safe drinking water in the fishing villages inside Queen Elizabeth National Park. People were suffering from waterborne diseases caused by drinking the contaminated water. In addition, fetching water in the lake was dangerous due to the presence of wild animals. Upon request from the UWA and the local community, a small surface water treatment plant was installed in Katunguru-Rubirizi in Februay 2004.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

The building of the foundation for the new settlement tank in Kazinga, Uganda. The new settlement tank will ensure continued access to safe water in the village.

Now, more than ten years later, the effect from providing safe water has proved to be much greater than only reducing diseases. When the project in Katunguru-Rubirizi was first installed, the village only had a couple of hundred inhabitants. In recent years, however, the population has grown tremendously and the village is now host for a number of new institutions and projects. These include a small hospital, a secondary school and, not the least, the national park headquarters. People say all of this happened because the inhabitants in Katunguru now have access to safe drinking water.

The results from these projects show that Fontes Foundation’s long-term take on sustainable development cooperation – including community involvement, ownership and training, as well as continuous follow-up and advising – is working. Fontes Foundation is not running the projects alone; the local communities have been trained to manage their own water systems, which in each village is run by a democratically elected water committee. The ideal is that each community acquires a feeling of ownership over the safe water system and understands that the project belongs to the community and not to the organization. This is important, so that when the community has learned to appreciate the value of clean and safe water, they will have the responsibility, the skills and the capacity to keep the safe water system running without the involvement of external actors.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.

The trench for the cable running from the solar panels to the pumps was built by the community in Kazinga, Uganda, as their contribution towards the new installations. Every villager had to contribute with a certain length of trench and the community leaders kept a log to ensure that everyone did their part.



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Agnes KampireCelebrating Ten Years of Safe Water

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

10 Years Anniversary of Our First Project

by Michael Pletscher on 30/09/2014 No comments

Fontes Foundation is proud to announce that its first safe water system, installed in 2004 in Katunguru-Rubirizi, is still running, which is not self-evident in Africa. It has now supplied safe water for the community for over 10 years. This deserves a proper celebration!

We cordially invite you to join us on an unforgettable trip through Uganda, which will carry us from the pulsating capital city of Kampala to the breathtaking landscape of the Queen Elizabeth National Park in western Uganda, combining visiting of Fontes projects and tourism activities.

We are inviting friends, colleagues, Lions and Rotary club members, donors and whoever might be interested. This trip will be a unique opportunity to learn about Africa, to learn to know Africa, to understand Africa and at the same time spot some of Africa’s precious wildlife.

Please follow this link to find the invitation and the program for our 10 years celebration trip.


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Michael Pletscher10 Years Anniversary of Our First Project

Replacement of Pumps in Katunguru-Rubirizi

by fontes on 08/09/2011 No comments

In Katunguru Rubirizi a new submersible pump was installed after it broke down probably due to an unsafe electricity connection. In order to avoid further breakdowns in the future, a safe electricity connection in the pump house was set up. This enables connection to the power grid without the risk of damaging equipment as a result of the poor electricity connection and fluctuating voltages. The water committee was informed about the changes and was again instructed about the proper maintenance of the system.

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fontesReplacement of Pumps in Katunguru-Rubirizi

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

Katunguru Water Project Research Assignment Completed

by fontes on 01/01/2010 No comments

In order to make use of the school holidays and increase the knowledge of the students about the water projects, they were given an assignment in November 2009 to assist in the management and operation of Katunguru water project. The students took over almost all tasks, from pumping and treating water, to water sales, to meter reading and accounting. They were given specific research questions and were asked to find the best methodology to answer it. In January 2010 they handed over a large written report where they answered all questions individually. In addition to teaching them important lessons about the technical running of a water system and the challenges with management, it helped the management of the water system and actually increased its revenues. The students were each given a mattress as an appreciation of their work.

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fontesKatunguru Water Project Research Assignment Completed

Water Committee Seminar in Kazinga

by fontes on 06/08/2009 No comments

On the 6th and 7th of August 2009 a water committee training seminar was organised in Kazinga village, funded by Lions Club Slemdal, Oslo, Norway. The aim of the seminar was to train the water committee members from three water supply projects (Katunguru, Kazinga and Kisenyi) in operation and maintenance, basic accounting, community mobilisation and hygiene and sanitation promotion. In addition, the seminar is a unique possibility for the members to share experiences and to discuss with other stakeholders such as local leaders and government in order to find solutions to problems. Fontes Foundation hired a specialist in public health and community mobilisation currently working for Uganda Red Cross Society, Mr. Barigye, to facilitate the seminar, which was a great success.

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fontesWater Committee Seminar in Kazinga