Imagine for a moment that the city where you live installs a new water system in a new subdivision, turns it on and tells its residents it is theirs to care for, to govern and to collect taxes on for repairs down the line. Even the most determined communities would need support from time to time to ensure that the water system is sustained. Even the longest lasting water systems would benefit from upgrades and new technology to enable them to last for generations to come.
We spoke with Rawlings Akamanya, who has been our Engineer in Uganda since 2014, to ask him about the future of sustainability and how it relates to Acts for Water. Here’s what he shared with us.
What good is an abandoned water system or a failed sanitation facility in your community? If we are to achieve sustainable development, the onus is on us to partner together with communities around the world, putting together available resources to develop capacities and resilience of these communities to escape WASH poverty without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Every system that impacts human life positively should be sustained. For instance, the human body requires water, food, sleep, and air to function optimally. This, in principle, is not any different from Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) systems. However, to
achieve sustainability, local communities need to connect and work together, so they can operate and sustain WASH systems, even under stress; adapt to changes in their environment (1); be self-reliant if external resources are limited or cut off and learn from experience to improve themselves over time without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs (2).
Despite the strides made in improving WASH during the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) era, lessons learnt show that providing infrastructure without creating enabling systems for continuous functionality is a waste hence the start of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) era. This universal focus affirms ACTS’ strategic direction towards sustainability.
This year ACTS is set to complete its 30th gravity flow water system increasing the rural population served to approximately 270,000. This is a great resource – one too great to put to waste. Many dollars and hours of labour have been invested and ACTS is poised to tackle the challenge and embrace the opportunity to aid the sustainability of these systems.
In Uganda, the need for improved WASH services is growing with the increase in population (3). In rural areas, at least 2 in 10 people practice open defecation, 3 in 10 lack access to an improved drinking water source and about 6 in 10 have no handwashing facilities (4).
So, what good will non-functional systems provide in such a critical time? ACTS continues to partner with Ugandans and Canadians to develop capacities of local communities to fully realise the benefits of their WASH resources. These are; increased time savings for more productive work, reduced prevalence of WASH-related diseases, better education outcomes for children and dignity for girls and women among others.
You can be a part of this future!
Engineer, Program Support – Uganda
Rawlings has been working with Acts for Water since 2014. His passion and knowledge of the benefits of clean, accessible water help him ensure the systems we build are not only a masterpiece of engineering, but that we are conducting systematic, rigorous monitoring and evaluation on the impact and lifespan of these systems to ensure they deliver the full benefits of clean water to the community for generations.
1 Physical, Social or Economic environment – Arbon et al. 2012
2 Sustainable Development
3 The World Bank estimates Uganda’s population to reach 100 million by 2050
4 Uganda Ministry of Water and Environment, Sector Performance Report 2020