Problem Addressed

Lack of access to a safe drinking water source is one of the most pressing issues in the impoverished fishing communities around Queen Elizabeth National Park (QENP) in Uganda. Lake George, Lake Edward, and the connecting Kazinga Channel are highly contaminated with all kinds of human and animal waste, leading to a high prevalence of water-related diseases among the local population. In addition, fetching water from the lakes or the channel is dangerous because wild animals like hippos and crocodiles regularly attack local people during this time.

Innovative Approach

Firstly, no other services are available in the geographic area in which Fontes works, which means Fontes fills a service provision gap in providing clean water to these extremely disadvantaged communities.

Second, the foundation has a long-term commitment and long-term focus unlike many other project-based organizations. They focus not on rapid expansion but instead on long-term support and capacity building of a limited number of local communities so as to develop a sense of ownership over the project and ensure its long-term success. Fontes selects a limited number of projects and constantly follows up with them when necessary, such as for regular capacity building and training for water committees. Fontes believes that only if the communities have this feeling of ownership will they run their water systems independently.

Fontes Foundation Utilizes IRC's WASHCost Tool

Program Solution

Fontes Foundation addresses the issue of safe drinking water in communities and provides information regarding sanitation and hygiene during capacity-building trainings and workshops. Fontes considers its safe water project only as an entry point into the communities, supplementing its development efforts with education and scholarship programs. The Safe Water Program enables overall development and innovation within the communities by providing the basic necessities.

Fontes Foundation has implemented safe drinking water projects using submersible pump/gravity flow schemes in five fishing villages in QENP since 2004. Each water project is run by a democratically elected water committee which makes sure that the system is maintained and kept running, including the creation of a monthly accountability in the form of a balance sheet. The safe water systems use a business model in which the water committee collects a small amount (100 UGX) per jerry can of water from the population. With this money, the committee buys the chemicals needed for the water treatment and system maintenance. This approach leads to a high level of local ownership of the project.

Fontes Foundation’s role is therefore a supportive one, providing regular capacity building trainings for the water committees and having multiple follow-up visits per year to guarantee the smooth running of the water schemes for over ten years. These capacity building trainings regularly include information on safe sanitation and hygiene. The organization is also involved when bigger repairs or project extensions are planned by organizing the funds from its donor pool and directly supporting the implementation. In this case again, the water committees contribute (sometimes quite substantially) towards those extensions/repairs from their savings. The water committees are supported by Fontes Foundation’s Field Officer, who visits the projects monthly and is available to assist in solving managerial or technical issues.

Fontes Foundation

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Partners: Fontes Foundation Uganda (head office and field staff); Local Water Committees (1 per village, who manage the water schemes); Local population (new installations/repairs); Various donors (e.g. Engineers Without Boarders Norway).

Location:  Western Region,  Kampala, 

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