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More than one third of the global population needs basic sanitation. About 10 percent do not have clean water. Rotary International, one of largest humanitarian service organizations globally, and USAID, the world’s largest governmental aid agency, are partnering to make an impact.

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Flowing piped water into a health center

All health care facilities, particularly hospitals, should have a continuous supply of piped water but in many countries fewer than one quarter of health centers outside of hospitals have piped water, according to the 2019 Global Baseline Report on WASH in Health Care Facilities.

In Uganda, nearly three quarters of public health facilities are located within 500 meters of an improved water source but the distance from the facility to the water source creates hardships, including additional time spent transporting and storing water, according to a 2019 UNICEF study.

Nkondo Health Centre III, located in the village of Nkondo in Buyende district in Uganda’s Eastern region, is one such facility.

Uganda classifies health facilities along seven categories, based on services provided and the size of the population they serve. With national referral hospitals (serving up to 10 million people) on one end of the spectrum and clinics (serving 1000 people) on the other, Nkondo Health Centre III is in the middle (third category). The health center staff sees over 1,900 patients a month and the most common types of conditions that the health center treats are malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, otitis, respiratory tract infections and skin infections.

For a long time, the only handwashing facility available to the health center was located outside the premises. This forced health center staff to step outside to wash their hands after seeing each patient, slowing down their work and exhausting them a lot. It also made the practice of handwashing more complicated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In response to this challenge, the Rotary-USAID partnership with the leadership of members of the rotary club of Kiira, invested in the extension of piped water to Nkondo Health Centre III, starting in March 2022. Six other health centers across Uganda are benefitting from this Rotary-led initiative within the partnership.

Followings weeks of procurement, construction and meetings between stakeholders, the piped water scheme was handed over to the health center’s management committee. The committee agreed with the pump operator that they will be paying an annual fee of 800,000 Ugandan shillings for the water. To pay for this water bill, the health center plans to draw funds from the public health fund.

Written by RI’s Mohamed Keita with contributions by Rotary member Joan Kirabo.

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