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Appropriate Technology: Rain Water Tanks

In the Kabale district in south-western Uganda, 110 women can now harvest safe rainwater right in their home. Easy to build water tanks are now providing families with clean drinking water. They also shorten the long walk women usually take to distant water sources, allowing them to engage in other household or money-earning activities. The project is financed by Uganda’s leading brewery and a local NGO, Two Wings Agro Forestry Network (TWAN). VOA English to Africa reporter Herbert Were spoke with people about this technology.

The women of Nyaruhanga trading center in the Kabale district in south-western Uganda are members of a women’s community called the Two Wings Agro Forestry Network (TWAN). When VOA spoke with them, they were at a member’s home to build a rainwater tank out of bricks, sand, and cement. The hard work will provide the family with safe clean water.

The idea to construct the tanks was the initiative of TWAN, whose members identified the lack of readily accessible safe drinking water as the most pressing problem that they face. The group also helps with tree planting and helps members set up income generating work in the homes.

Dinah Mafara’s family is one of the 110 who feel fortunate to have a rainwater harvesting tank in their home.

“Lack of water is the biggest problem, much bigger than anything else because without it you can’t keep your baby neat if you are a mother, you can’t cook, you can’t look after your hubby, you can’t do nothing…it is the biggest problem for us as women,” she said.

A well known company, Uganda Breweries Ltd., has helped supply the building materials. The beneficiaries provide the labor and move from home to home lending a helping hand in the construction.

Their village is based in the Kabale district, where homes are usually perched on the ridges. The women in this area are responsible for tilling gardens and fetching water; they must travel long distances to reach the water sources in the valleys below.

Most women in Kabale are caught between multiple chores, from tilling the gardens to cooking, aside from collecting water for their homes. Typically it takes an hour to collect a 20 liter can of water; a home can use up to three cans per day.

Aline Mary Kemerwa is the Chairperson of the Two Wings Agro Forestry Network.

“It used to take a long time and at times, some of the water was not clean and they would get tired running up the hills, especially if they had other things to do like cooking, looking after animals. So it was very tiresome for these housewives,” she said.

Any relief for the women comes from their children, who can help fetch the water once they are back from school. As a result, water is used sparingly.

The new tanks are capable of storing 4000 liters of clean rainwater.

Betha Bahunkyiza says having the tank in her courtyard brings a sense of relief. She no longer worries about fetching water from a nearby river, whose water quality is suspect.

“The water is in my home…it is very near me. I can collect it without children. Even when I am sick I can do it slowly,” she noted.

She says with the time saved fetching water, she can focus on other money-earning projects for her family.

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