Kitgum Pupils Carry Water to School Daily, Lose Valuable Time at Boreholes

Lack of boreholes at the school has compelled parents to load their children with water containers to carry to school for daily use. Girls in boarding schools are exposed to dangers as they trek several miles daily to fetch water for school use.

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The absence of water sources in some primary schools in Kitgum district has forced  pupils to report to school with water on a daily basis.

Some of the affected primary schools include Alero and Gweng in Labongo Amida Sub County, Morongole in Orom Sub County, Alima Lagot in Namukora Sub County and Aputubere in Kitgum Matidi Sub County where both learners and teachers have to trek long distances daily in search of clean and safe water.

Alfred Odong the head teacher at Gweng Pa Mon Primary School confirms the water crisis that is that grave during the dry season, saying the nearest safe water sources are located over 4 kilometers in the neighboring villages of Lalur, Lagot-Oywee in Lapyem Parish, Laguti Sub County in Pader.

Odong says the Lack of boreholes at the school has compelled parents to load their children with water containers to carry to school for for drinking and other uses while at school.

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At Alero Primary school, teachers told URN that says the situation is greatly affecting learning since girls at the boarding section are always sent kilometers away to fetch safe and adequate water for cleaning and cooking at school.

Milton Okech Ojwang the Chairperson of the school management committee says the nearest boreholes are located about 4 kilometers away in the neighboring villages of Gweng-Coo and Wao Central. There is one unsafe water source at the Asipa water stream.

Despite previous efforts by the Japanese International cooperation (JICA) to establish two boreholes at Alero Primary, the intervention didn’t address the water crisis challenge since the boreholes were dismantled because the sources were condemned as unfit for human consumption. 

Charles Okello, a parent, says the situation has affected the observance of the set standard operating procedures to curtail the possible spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) since adequate and safe water availability for handwashing which is considered a priority in fighting against the pandemic, has been compromised.

Okello says the situation also puts the lives of pupils at risk of contracting diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery because they do not wash their hands before eating or after visiting the latrine for fear of trekking long distances in pursuit of clean water. 

According to Okello, the situation has also affected children’s learning environment and led to challenges of dropping out of school since learners often miss lessons as they have to abandon classes to look for safe water to quench their thirst. 

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Joel Opira a parent at Morongole P7 School says although the water crisis is minimal during the rainy season due to availability of water harvesting facilities at the school, during the dry season the scarcity is immense as the nearby borehole becomes dry. He says that despite several reminders to stakeholders, sub county and district leaders about the gravity of the water crisis, nothing is being done to address the problem of water shortage in the area.

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The Kitgum district Water Officer Willy Picho attributes the water crisis in the affected areas to the lowered water tables during the dry season and the rocky topography that has bogged down efforts by government and development partners to drill boreholes.

The Kitgum district Chief Administrative Officer Martin Jacan Gwoktoo affirms to the difficulty but says they have forwarded the matter to the water ministry to consider establishing water sources that are compatible to areas with insufficient water. 

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However according to Gwoktoo, Kitgum district in its 2020/2021 budget has prioritized to invest more in shifting from borehole drilling to establishing solar powered piped water systems in water stressed areas.