Safe Water

Safe water forms the basis for good health, and thereby prosperity. Fontes Foundation believes that providing safe water serves as an entry point to development, and working together with the communities the impact in the long-term is much greater than simply providing safe water.

Community Involvement

It is essential to involve the local community and other relevant stakeholders in all stages of the project. The communities are actively involved during the implementation and the water project is operated and managed by a locally elected water committee. Read more…

Appropriate Technology

For each project the best water source is identified and a treatment process is chosen adapted to the local circumstances. As much as possible, all the pumps, pipes, filters and tanks are bought locally. This is also to ensure the availability of spare parts. Read more…

Fast Implementation

Using methods and equipment from emergency aid, we have developed an unique way of implementing projects, providing safe water after only one week. This has proved to be essential for gaining support in the communities.

Long-Term Commitment

A water project needs follow up over time in order to remain operational. Fontes Foundation believes that a long term follow up through trainings and technical assistance is completely necessary for the success of a project. Not only does the water project benefit, it also has positive spin-off effects throughout the community.

Our Safe Water Projects

Fontes Foundation has installed surface treatment plants in five villages inside the Queen Elizabeth National Park in south-western Uganda.


Kashaka is a village situated on an isthmut in Lake George, with about 1100 inhabitants. On one side of the village is the landing site, where all the fishermen offload their catch. Often the hippopotamuses are lurching just off the shore. The water for the treatment plant is pumped from the other side of the village, in order to minimize the human contamination. The water supply system was installed in early 2010, funded by Lions Club Nesøya and Balder Foundation (Norway). In 2014, a photovoltaic array (solar panels) was added to the system during an Engineering without Borders course, so that they no longer have to use the expensive petrol generator to power the pumps.


Located at the southern bridgehead where the main road crosses the Kazinga Channel, Katunguru-Rubirizi is a small fishing village of around 600 inhabitants. It was Fountes Foundations first water project, constructed in 2004, after a request from the Uganda Wildlife Authority and the local community to improve the livelihood in the village. Since then, the system has been extended in several steps. Currently, it is connected to the national power grid and also provides safe water to the primary school and some local hotels.


Most of the 3000 inhabitants of Katunguru Kasese live from fishing, as well as some trade and small businesses, as the town is on the main trade routes connecting the capital Kampala to the city of Kasese and the DR Congo. Ever since Fontes Foundation installed a drinking water system in the Katunguru Rubirizi, the inhabitants of Katunguru Kasese have been longing for similar facilities. Eventually, Fontes Foundation installed a small scale water treatment system with support from the Lions Club Oslo-Slemdal (Norway) in September 2011. With the help from the entire community the system was set up within four days. Since then, the surface water treatment system provides the community with fresh drinking water every day.


One of the most popular attractions of the park, a boat trip on the Kazinga Channel in the afternoon, passes directly in front of the landing site. With support from Lions Club Slemdal (Norway), Scandinavian Water Technologies (Scan-Water), ClearWater42 (Norway), students from Bath University (UK), students from St.Gallen University (Switzerland) and private donors Fontes installed a water supply system in September 2007.


Thanks to the donation of Rotary Club Eiksmarka (Norway), a water system has been installed in the village (2008). This system treats the water and makes it safe for human consumption, in addition it brings the water from the dangerous shores 800m up to the village, a great relief for the women and girls in the community.

Living inside a national park

The population of Kazinga is constantly faced with dangers from the proximity of wild animals. The main activity of the population in Kazinga is fishing and the landing site, where the fishermen bring in the fish and organise their nets, lies squeezed between popular accumulation points for all sorts of wild animals such as hippos, crocodiles, elephants, water buffalos and a great number of birds. The high density of animals also has important consequences for the water. The communities use water from the Kazinga channel that is nearly stagnating and green from algae and organic material. In addition, the water has a very high pH. This makes it not only more difficult to treat, but a serious burden to the health of those who drink it.

Katunguru is a fishing village situated in Queen Elisabeth National Park in western Uganda. Before the creation of the National Park, the villages in the area lived from hunting, fishing, as well as producing cotton, but the park has taken away the possibility for the village to farm and hunt, and parts of the Kazinga channel have been dedicated as breeding areas with fishing restrictions. Park restrictions also prevent the inhabitants from growing agriculture and attempts to plant trees are often sabotaged by elephants. In addition to this, the villagers face daily dangers of wild animals such as lions, hippos and crocodiles.

When Andreas G. Koestler installed the first water treatment system in February 2004, he was motivated to help a desperate community as well as to test the EmWat-Kit filter system and show that it could be suitable for small-scale village water supplies. The system now pumps water up to the village, out of danger of wild animals. The consumers have to contribute money for fuel and chemicals. The system also needs skilled workers in order to keep it going, something we found in our two “water-engineers” Ibrahim and Francis. Despite this, one year later it was urgent to replace parts of the system of technical reasons.

Community involvement

Fontes Foundation always involves the communities in the installation process of the water systems, as it is necessary to start mobilising the inhabitants in advance in order to achieve a good cooperation. The involvement is mainly transated in digging trenches for pipes and other manual labour. For instance, in January 2010 Fontes Foundation choose to adopt a fast implementation process in order to keep the community members motivated. Fontes used temporary water tanks and taps designed for emergencies and the water supply system was installed with water running within a week. In the following weeks, two permanent public stand posts, a tank and a pump house were constructed.  The whole process was carried out in close collaboration with Sub-County leaders, local leaders and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

Through participative approaches, the community is involved in the planning, implementation and management of the water system, in order to create ownership and enhance sustainability. We also aim to adapt each project to the local context and and use as much as possible local technologies. Fontes Foundation also emphasises a close contact to local political and institutional structures. We believe that the planning and design phases are crucial for a good project and follow up our projects over a long period after the physical implementation to facilitate capacity building in the community and allow for a mutual learning process.

In addition to improving the water source, Fontes Foundation believes that providing safe drinking water can be used as an entry point to the community, and that the training and organising of a water committee can have positive spill-over effects on the democratic structure in the village, on women’s empowerment and on motivation. Fontes Foundation is also aware of the importance of hygiene promotion and proper sanitation in order to reduce faecal-oral diseases and improve the living conditions and well-being of people.

The water project is managed by a democratically elected water committee, which hires 3 technicians to run the system on a daily basis. They also supervise one caretaker for each tap stand, who receives money and keeps the tap stands clean. The committees need support in how to manage the system on a financially sustainable basis, how to set a price that is accepted by the community but still gives enough income to cover the expenses, and how to supervise the work of the technicians and caretakers. The technicians need support and technical training; they are all local community members with mostly little technical experience. After the technical installation is complete, most of the time spent on follow up goes to management issues.

Appropriate Technology

1. Water Intake

Here, the water is abstracted from the lake by means of a submersible pump which is powered by a generator. The water intake is constructed in a way to minimize the amount of floating debris and sand entering the pump and pipes.

2. Pumping to the Settlement Tank

The water is pumped into the settlement tank. The water from the lake has a very high turbidity (cloudiness/is dirty) so just before it reaches the tank, aluminium sulphate (alum) is added to make the suspended particles in the water flocculate to form bigger particles.

3. Flocculating the water

After the water has entered the settlement tank, it remains there for 2-3 hours in order to let the flocs (particles) in the water settle to the bottom of the tank. The sludge remains in the tank when emptied, and is disposed of. The now clear water is pumped to the filters.

4. Sand Filtration

A high pressure sand filter removes the remaining particles from the water. The water is forced through fine sand, and the particles are withheld by direct collison, van der Waals force attraction or surface charge attraction. This filter has to be backwashed from time to time in order to clean it.

5. Activated Carbon Filtration

Just after the sand filter, the water goes through a pressurized activated carbon filter (charcoal). The carbon pieces have a very large surface area and adsorb harmful contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides. For the end-user, the most important effect of this filter is the improved taste of the water.

6. Chlorination

Chlorine is a strong oxidant which kills most microorganisms rapidly. For the chlorine to work effectively, it is important that the water is already clear when reaching this stage. If dosed correctly, some chlorine remains active in the water so that it also disinfects the water pipelines and the containers people collect the water in. You have to, however, be careful not to add too much, it makes the water taste bad (swimming pool water) and people will reject the water.

7. Storage

After the chlorination the water enters a storage tank. The tanks are made out of HDPE plastic which is durable and resistant to solar radiation. In order to provide enough water pressure to the taps in the village, the tanks are elevated on a platform.

8. Distribution

The water is distributed through one or two public tap stands in the village, with four faucets on each. The villagers buy the water by the jerrycan and pay a tap attendant. A water meter measures how much water is sold every day.

Valentin KoestlerSafe Water