This past winter, the Gay Lea Foundation approved an $8,000 grant for H2O4ALL, a charity whose mission is to bring safe water and sanitation to developing areas around the world.
Founded in 2008, H2O4ALL works with local communities to develop innovative tools and affordable technology for communities to implement sustainable solutions for their water crisis, such as the one in the remote village of Kahama in southwestern Uganda.
The community is located in the mountains with villagers sourcing their water at a spring about five kilometres away down a steep hill. The distance from the main water source greatly affected the community. The elderly had difficulty making trips to collect and carry water, leaving many seniors unable to bathe for weeks. Community members re-used the same water for washing dishes, clothes and cooking. This led to an increase in water-borne diseases, such as typhoid and dysentery, negatively impacting the community’s health.
Community members in the village of Kahama help unload two water storage tanks for the rainwater collection system.
Partnering with Reach One Touch One Ministries (ROTOM) Uganda, H2O4ALL planned to construct two rainwater harvesting systems in Kahama. The Foundation grant was used to procure materials, installation, supervision and inspection.
In February 2021, H2O4ALL and ROTOM began installing the collection system. At the Kahama Primary School and Kahama Community Church, water collections tanks were installed using the buildings’ roofs to capture rainwater. Solar-powered purification treatment systems were also installed at both locations. The entire system has a capacity of 90,000 litres with three distributions stations to access the water.
Throughout the project, H2O4ALL and ROTOM engaged with local leaders to involve the community in the project’s implementation.
“Input from community elders from the start of the project played an important role in the final design as well as mobilizing hundreds of community members to dig trenches, lift tanks and provide accommodation for workers,” says Timothy Muttoo, co-founder of H2O4ALL.
“The water system is functioning, and the community has access to water stations to collect water for drinking and handwashing, which has reduced exposure risks to illness,” says Muttoo.
More than 1,000 people in the Kahama village are now benefiting from safe water, adds Muttoo. Three surrounding villages are also accessing the water, expanding the reach of this important project to more than 3,000 people.
The community water distribution centre was completed in May 2021 and is fully operational.
“When we get access to safe water, I will be able to get more time to read my books and to do other home chores,” says Rachel, a 13-year-old Kahama resident. “And there will be no more worries from my
grandmother falling when we have access to safe water in our community.”
As part of H2O4ALL’s mission to implement long-term sustainable solutions, a Water Management Committee was formed during the project consisting of community members, school, church and ROTOM representatives. Together, they will manage the ongoing functions of the system and monitor collection, conduct water quality testing and monthly reporting.
“On behalf of H2O4ALL and the people of Kahama, we would like to thank the Gay Lea Foundation for its support of this project,” says Muttoo. “The people of Kahama now have access to safe water, which has greatly improved the health of the community.”
Kahama villagers using the community distribution station for the first time.