Joseph Okullo and Alan MacDonald
The Luwero study tour was a one day field trip organized by UPGro Hidden Crisis project in partnership with the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment, as part of the pre-AfWA Congress and Exhibition Conference being held in Uganda 24-27 February 2020. Running under the title of “Rural Water Supply Functionality: Beyond Numbers” the study tour visited the Luwero District Water Office and two rural communities where the Hidden Crisis research team had undertaken some keyresearch.Twenty five officials attended the tour, bringing together a range of valuable expertise from Central Government, District Water Offices, Rural Water Supply practitioners, NGOs, international donors and researchers – stimulating rich discussion on rural water supply functionality.
Central to the day’s discussions were (i) how hand-pumped boreholes are commissioned, managed and maintained; (ii) the importance and impact which different functionality definitions have to assessing HPB functionality status; and, (iii) the vital role of HPB maintenance plays to long term functionality outcomes and service levels. The tour involved practical demonstrations at water points, detailed conservations with community members involved in the Hidden Crisis project research, as well as wider stakeholder group discussions.
The rich exchanges between participants gave greater insight to the uncertainty surrounding reporting meaningful functionality statistics, and the complexities involved in community management and maintenance, particularly when larger repairs are needed. Visiting a newly commissioned solar powered water supply visibly highlighted the challenge that low yielding basement aquifers have on the adoption of these emerging technologies. The pump could not sustain its abstraction for long before cutting out. Having such a wealth of experience on the tour, and community members who were willing to discuss honestly their experiences contributed to a highly memorable day.