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.
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.
After a generous donation from the Lions Club Nesøya and Balder Foundation (Norway), a water treatment system will be installed in Kashaka, Western Uganda by Fontes Foundation in early 2010. An assessment visit was carried out by Fontes Foundation on the 25th of November 2009. During this visit, the community was informed about the new system, about the installation plans, and about how the system will be run and managed in future. In addition they were able to ask questions and put forward their concerns. In addition, technical data were collected, and water samples taken and tested. It was decided to draw water from the bay on the back of the peninsula, since the water quality is better and there is less risk for contamination. This will decrease operation and maintenance costs in future. Two sites for tap stands were located in the village as well. The whole process was carried out in close collaboration with Sub-County leaders, local leaders and a team from Uganda Wildlife Authority.
As a result of a collaboration between Uganda Wildlife Authority, Scan Water AS, NAPS, Rotary Eiksmarka, and Fontes Foundation, an array of solar panels were installed in Kisenyi, south western Uganda, in August 2009. The solar panels provide electricity to the pumps which were earlier powered by a diesel generator. This leads to lower cost in form of reduced fuel expenditures and reduces the wear of the generator. Although protecting the panels against hippos, elephants and thieves is a challenge, we believe this will substantially improve the sustainability of the project.
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.
On April 6th, the water project in Kisenyi, western Uganda, was officially commissioned with a big function. The project has been running for about 1 year and 4 months, but recent improvements to the settlement tank and a tap stand gave the opportunity to an official party. The project in Kisenyi was mainly funded by Eiksmarka Rotary Club in Norway, and representatives from the Rotary Club in Bushenyi were present. District and local leaders were there, and also the water committees from the neighboring villages Katunguru and Kazinga. The guest of honour was the local Member of Parliament, Hon. Tindamanyire. Four members of the Koestler family were also present. The party for the local community lasted until morning hours, and the event even made it into the largest national newspaper in Uganda. Another improvement of the project is underway, with solar panels to power the water pump supported again by Rotary Eiksmarka in Norway. The installation of solar panels will drastically reduce the operation cost of the water project for the community, and will increase the sustainability.
In January 2009 a permanent settlement tank was installed. The new tank has greater capacity which will simplify the treatment process, in addition to being more robust, especially against the curious baboons which created problems with the old tank. Because the soils in the area are very poor, care had to be taken when constructing the foundation for the tank and a thick concrete slab was constructed.
With funds from Lions Club Slemdal, a new tap stand (the old one seen in the front) and two new storage tanks (10’000 liters each) were installed in Katunguru, Uganda. The old pillow tanks were replaced by permanent rota tanks (made of polyethylene).
In late 2007, Fontes Foundation installed a pilot version of a GSM monitoring system in Kazinga and Kisenyi. The system works with GSM technology, and through a simple interface, the technicians and the treasurers in the villages enter data for income, expenses and quantities of water produced and sold. The information is sent to Norway by SMS, and received by server that processes the data. This makes it possible for the project coordinator to continuously follow the status of the projects, through an internet based
In July 2008, Fontes Foundation facilitated the registration of the water committees of Katunguru, Kazinga and Kisenyi as Community Based Organisations (CBO). This is a legal status in Uganda, and the CBO has to have a constitution and be registered at the district. Together with the Community Development Officer (CDO) at Katunguru sub-county, each water committee wrote a constitution and went through the registration process. As a CBO the water committee can open a bank account, something that is crucial for sustainable financial management of the water project. The CBO also ensures that the water committee lives on as an entity even if the membership changes, and the roles and responsibilities of different members are outlined by the constitution. Fontes Foundation hopes that this can contribute to the sustainability of the water projects, and to strengthen their role in relationship to other actors such as the district and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA).