Message from the Executive Director

Water has been a hot topic for so many across the country this year, especially in the Lower Mainland, where we’ve experienced an unprecedented drought. And yet, even with this shortage, we are still blessed with a convenient, safe water supply for functions that are essential for health, productivity and simply feeling human.

In Uganda, for the first time, communities are learning to take responsibility for a shared water system serving thousands of people every day. These systems are designed to last generations, but that will only happen if they are managed properly by a community that understands the responsibility that comes with this life-changing gift of infrastructure.

If we imagine ourselves in the same situation, I think we would acknowledge that more than just a user’s manual would be needed for new major infrastructure to reach its full potential.

Our experience here in Canada might suggest that this should be no problem and that solutions for management should be easy to implement. Yet if we imagine ourselves in the same situation, I think we would acknowledge that more than just a user’s manual would be needed for new major infrastructure to reach its full potential.

This has certainly been our experience as we’ve worked alongside Ugandan communities. They value the water, and many are grateful to the point of dancing and singing when they receive this amazing gift, yet they have no prior experience of the cooperation and coordination that’s needed to sustain it. As often happens in the development sector, some are accustomed to having someone from the outside fix it. There are disagreements over how unfamiliar problems should be resolved. Community leaders sometimes act in their own power interests, rather than for the sake of the community. In other words, they are just like us.

I’m personally quite excited to be bringing greater focus to these complex challenges. In the stories that follow you’ll meet some of the amazing Ugandans that are leading the way.

Nate Lepp,
Executive Director

Building Stronger Communities

Building a gravity flow water system is relatively straightforward. We find the source, we design the route, and we build the structure. Once the system is built, the goal is to hand over ownership of the system to the community. But often, cultural and educational differences can make things a little more complicated.

To help build stronger communities and address these cultural issues, ACTS has hired a team of passionate and skilled Ugandans to ensure these systems last for decades: Boaz Muhangi, Rawlings Akamanya, and Rose Mugabe.

ACTS hired Boaz in November, and as he describes it, his job is to connect community leaders with their neighbours, to get people talking, and to listen to and learn what the issues are so that solutions can be found. He loves to tell stories and use illustrations to help communities understand their responsibility for the water systems.


 

Rawlings is our first full-time Ugandan Field Engineer. He was hired in April to conduct an engineering survey of past projects. He’s looking at both the construction and maintenance of these projects, then proposing cost efficient and long-term improvements based on the available materials and methods.

“We help the communities that we are serving gain an understanding of the problems within the system, so that they can fix those problems with their own resources.”— Rawlings

Rose has been educating communities on sanitation and water health as part of our projects for over 10 years. This happens even before they’re connected with clean water. Rose will meet with individuals, usually the mother of a household, and do a review of their household cleanliness, from using a latrine to setting up proper washing stations.

Together, Boaz, Rawlings, and Rose are all helping to educate their communities—and teaching ACTS at the same time. We want to be able to understand these issues so that we can improve our systems and easily transition ownership. As Boaz says, it’s all about sharing knowledge. “I’m learning from them. And I’m giving them my knowledge, because it’s all about sharing,” he says. “I know that together we can do better than one individual.”

 

Your gift to ACTS empowers people like Boaz, Rawlings, and Rosehelping them strengthen the communities in which they live and work. Be a part of changing lives today.

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Source Supporter

Inspired by what you’ve read? Become a Source Supporter and join a group of 81 committed individuals who have helped bring clean water to 160,000 Ugandans to date!

We’re looking for 19 people willing to provide monthly donations as the source of our work in Uganda. Monthly gifts allow us to connect with more Ugandans, bringing clean water to homes, schools and health clinics. A strong source allows us to hire skilled staff, grow our supporter base, and make strategic decisions to reach more Ugandans.

We invite you to partner with us and become a Source Supporter today.

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