Uganda: Refugee camps and the ordeal of drinking water

Uganda is home to around 1.4 million people, mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. To meet the basic needs of this refugee population, NGOs have installed piped water supply systems, which provide services to host communities.

In many camps in Uganda , children increasingly have to walk long distances to fetch water, instead of spending that time at school or with their friends playing and learning.

In a refugee camp, one of the first challenges is having enough water, at least 20 litres per day per person for drinking, cooking, bathing and cleaning. A human being can survive a week without food, but cannot live more than three days without water. In less than 24 hours, our body is already showing signs of dehydration.

Kyaka Settlement

While the abundance of water in our daily lives means that most of us take it for granted, the reality on the ground is that millions of people around the world are suffering from lack of access to water, many of whom are refugees. Refugee camps in Uganda often do not have enough water to supply all of the refugees residing there.

The majority of these camps are unable to provide the recommended daily water minimum of 20 litres of water per person per day. The provision of water services in refugee settlements has been mainly provided by humanitarian agencies.

Kyaka Settlement, Kaborogota River

Water quality issues

In Uganda, poor water quality in refugee camps has created a "crisis within the crisis", causing outbreaks of water-borne diseases, such as cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.

This is due to the misuse of current water quality regulations and the lack of time available to implement these water quality regulations in refugee camps.

Rwamwanja Settlement

With the refugee situation worsening and no permanent solution to this crisis in sight, the minimum that can be done is to provide adequate quantity and quality of water to refugees. However, providing water is not enough; the quality of the water is just as important as the quantity of water. For things to improve, it is absolutely vital that government, aid agencies, NGOs, volunteers come together and create water quality guidelines specific to refugee camps that are capable of withstanding different aspects within these camps.

Rwamwanja Settlement

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