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Clean drinking water for refugees

A civil war has been underway in South Sudan since 2013; its brutal ferocity has triggered a humanitarian crisis. Almost two million people have become displaced in their own country. Around 200,000 of them have sought shelter in United Nations refugee camps, more than 500,000 have fled to neighboring countries. 180,000 of these now live in Uganda – 20,000 of them in Rhino Camp in the north west of the country, where Malteser International has been working to provide an improved water supply since February 2014.

An end to the war in South Sudan is not in sight, and the number of South Sudanese people fleeing to Uganda continues to rise. The welcome that they receive at their destination is remarkable: the Ugandan government gives the refugees a parcel of land where they can build huts and farm a little, leading the refugee camps to give the impression of a collection of hamlets.

The 20,000 refugees in Rhino Camp are predominantly women and children. Most of the men remained in South Sudan in order to mind their herds, or to fight in the war.

Faced with the rising number of people, and the high temperatures in the dry Ugandan savannah, supplying sufficient clean drinking water to the refugees is a critical issue.

Supply all of the 20,000 refugees with at least 18 liters of clean drinking water per day per person, and generally improve the hygiene conditions in the camp.

Supplying water with motorized wells and elevated tanks:

Malteser International bored new wells, and repaired four others in three villages in order to provide the refugees with enough drinking water every day. Because of the depth of the water and the number of people needing to be supplied, traditional hand pumps were not an option. Seven of the most productive wells were, therefore, equipped with solar pumps and elevated tanks. Each tank is filled by the pump, and leads to four or five distribution points, each equipped with six taps. This system is very low maintenance, offers a sufficient supply of water, and significantly reduces waiting times at the taps. The greatest advantage is that the women no longer have to pump up 60 to 80 liters of water for their families from 80 meters beneath the surface each day by hand. Wash places are also supplied alongside the taps.

Construction of rain water collection systems at medical centers and schools:

Additionally, Malteser International has installed 20 and 40,000-litre rainwater collection tanks at 2 medical centers and 5 primary schools. Although water resources in Uganda are scarce, there are two rainy seasons each year.

Hygiene training and campaigns:

In order to improve hygiene in the camp, Malteser International worked in cooperation with its partner organization IAS to provide an educational campaign on the topic of hand washing and personal hygiene at the local primary schools. In order to ensure the transfer of this knowledge in the future, we also offered courses for teachers, and representatives of the parents. As an immediate measure, together with UNHCR, we distribute soap to all refugee households, while children are also taught at school how they can make their own soap. Menstrual hygiene is a particular theme. Girls in the higher school classes are given washable sanitary towels and are offered education on the topic, in which they also learn how to use sanitary products correctly.

Many of our aid measures benefit not only refugees from South Sudan, but also a large part of the very poor north Ugandan host population that live near to the camp

Country info

Capital: Kampala
Area: 241,040 km²
Population: c. 38.8 Million

Project data

Project duration: since February 2014
Donors: German Federal Foreign Office, Germany's Relief Coalition - ADH, Global Fund for Forgotten People, private donations

Last updated: January 2016

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