clean water

Access to safe and clean water still low among refugees and nationals in Obongi district

(Last Updated On: 11 April 2023)

OBONGI, Apr. 11, 2023: At least more than 70,000 members of the host communities and refugees in Obongi district do not have access to clean and safe water and they still drink water from the Nile and other unsafe sources.

According to the district water officer (DWO) Mr. Dominic Iranya, only 58% of the total population of the people in Obongi has access to clean and safe drinking water which is below the national average of 75%.

In the district, 42% of the people still drink water from unsafe sources, while in the refugee settlement of Palorinya, a refugee gets 17 liters of water for one day per person which is below the 25liter water recommended per person for one day, according to United Nation standards.

Iranya said, “This was an increase from 41% in 2019 right from the time Obongi district obtained district status to 58% in 2023. We still have a lot to do to improve access to clean and drinking water for the refugees and host communities.”

Iranya further revealed that the functionality of water in the district has increased from 56% in 2019 to now 85% in 2023, adding that out of the 346 boreholes, 272 of the boreholes are functioning, and out of the 32 piped water points, 32 are functioning.

He noted that the worst hit sub-counties are Gimara (46%) followed by Obongi town council which recorded a drop in access to safe and clean water from 51% to now 49%. Other sub-counties are Ewafa at 64%, Aliba sub-county at 68%, and Palorinya standing at 80%. Itula which has the best access to clean and safe water is at 81%.

The DWO said the settlement has 148 boreholes and only 132 are working with 16 piped water points all functional.

What the locals said

Ms. Aisha Abau, a woman in Obongi Town Council said, for now, three years, they have been depending on water from the river (Nile) for both consumption and domestic use.

“We are tired of drinking this dirty water, we drink dirty water and often fall sick and use more money to treat ourselves, I appealing to the authorities to come to our rescue,” Abau lamented.

Ms. Majuma Kasara Yusuf is also a resident of Obongi town council. She said, “We are overburdened, we fetch the Nile for all our needs. If I need clean water, I must move 5 kilometers and fetch 4 jerricans that can keep my family for two days.”

According to UNICEF, women and girls collectively spend 200 million hours fetching water every single day – far more than men and boys. “Collecting water is tiresome and it adds to the unpaid domestic and care work whose inequitable distribution is at the root of gender inequalities.”

“Our children are exposed to so many waterborne diseases but we cannot do much, we appeal to the district to bring for water clean water from the Nile,” Majuma added.

Mr. Anthony Moga is a refugee at Palorinya refugee settlement who explained that on average women spend 4-6 hours accessing clean and safe water in the settlement.

He said: “The most affected zones are Zone 3, and Zone two, in those zones at some water points after filling 20 jerrycans of water, the boreholes get dry.”

Moga added that the supply of water in the refugee settlement is not meeting the demands of water saying this has contributed to dropping out of school-going age since most parents prefer to send them to water points.


Iranya said Obongi town council which is the second least served sub-counties has only three water points and now the Ministry of Water and Environment has earmarked shs6 billion to improve water infrastructure for piped water systems.

“We have finished the presentation of designs, we are now at the procurement stage and this project is targeting the first 600 households including parts of Aliba and Gimara.”

He also noted that one of the interventions for the Gimara sub-county is the Liwa piped water systems which is now at the 60% implementation stage while for Aliba and Ewafa there are plans to improve the water supplies under the DRDDIP projects at the cost of shs3billion.

He also said six (6) boreholes have been planned to be drilled in the month of April in the sub-counties of Gimara, Ewafa, and Parts of Itula sub-county and 6 boreholes will also be rehabilitated

The Town Council Authority

Makossa Saidi, the town clerk of Obongi Town Council said the town council has already laid strategies for maintenance by training water user committees to ensure that once the project is completed it can supply clean and safe water to many households beyond the town council.

Makosa added that once completed, the project will supply water to some institutions like Obongi Primary Schools, the church of Uganda, nursery schools, and Amavile market in Aliba. All the institutions like the health center four, district headquarters, and, the Catholic Church

“We shall charge a fee of shs50, 000 for connections and ensure each household gets a meter reader to avoid waste of water,” Makossa added.

Obongi district which was created in 2019, according to the projection of the population census of 2014 has 52,000 people with 150,000 refugees.

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