In many areas around the world, clean water is a rare commodity. In sub-Saharan Africa and the Ugandan populations of Kikulu and Ngandu, the lack of access to safe water is a major health concern. These areas, which are experiencing rapid growth, acquire water from pipes that are barely underground and often filled with standing water and waste. Because these communities do not have access to the necessary services or infrastructure for safe, sanitary water, they are quickly becoming a breeding ground for disease.

A Higher Education for Development (HED) partnership between State University of New York, Albany (UAlbany) and Makerere University introduced the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Methodology to the residents of Kikulu and Ngandu. WASH Methodology incorporated the introduction of “tippy taps” to Ugandan residents and educated them about the necessity of clean water, hygiene and the effects of disease on the body. Dr. David Carpenter, partnership director and director of the Institute for Health & Environment at UAlbany, spoke of the fear these residents had for their health. “They were concerned that there was a lot of illness in the community. They wanted to know why and what they could do to reduce it,” he said.

Makerere University students trained in environmental health held sessions with the community to teach the importance of hand washing, keeping food from contamination, preventing the spread of germs, and the basic principles of sanitation. Residents also were trained on a series of relatively inexpensive methods of chlorinating contaminated water and making it safer to drink using chlorine packets.

A DVD was produced as a result of the partnership funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to further educate residents of the necessity of clean water. The level of participation and excitement at the sessions was high. Residents shared what they learned about hygiene, improving sanitation in their homes and the introduction of tippy taps.

Tippy taps are central to WASH Methodology. These one- or two-gallon plastic jugs are filled with water and hung on the end of a stick which tips the tippy tap releasing a small stream of water for washing one’s hands. “This has turned out to be one of the best ways to improve health in these poor communities that people in various African communities have found to work. When I was there last summer, there had been a tippy tap installed on almost every one of the outhouses in both communities.” Carpenter continued, “The people are proud of it, and they were using it.”

With the success and acceptance of tippy taps, Dr. Carpenter is enthusiastic about the next phase of the SUNY/Makerere partnership. Contingent upon additional funding, Carpenter also hopes to create facilities to survey water sources and sanitation. “We’re very determined to continue and expand this program,” he said.

 

WASH Methodology Provides Communities in Uganda with Safe Water