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Skybird bird project transforms lives with access to clean water in Gulu district

In the heart of Gulu District – Uganda, Beatrice Akol, a resilient mother of two, has experienced the daily struggle of accessing clean water. Living in Lataaya Village, located in the Bungatila sub-county, Akol and her fellow residents faced the arduous task of fetching water from the nearby River Onyama.

One of the residents of Lataaya village collecting water from River Onyama using a 2 litre jerrycan.

This seasonal river, shared with animals and nestled in a bush, not only posed a risk of contamination but also put them in danger due to lurking reptiles such as snakes. Due to the efforts of the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) and the Skybird Bird Project, Akol’s life and that of her fellow community members has been transformed.

In 2022, URCS with support from the Austrian Development Cooperation through the Austrian Red Cross, conducted a comprehensive Water Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) assessment in Gulu District.

The assessment highlighted the dire water shortage and identified the most affected sub-counties to include Paico and Bungatila. Based on these findings, URCS supported by the Skybird Bird Project set out to to build a protected well to provide clean and safe water, bringing hope and change to the residents of Lataaya village

A smile graces Akol’s face as she expresses her gratitude for the transformative interventions by the URCS.

No longer bound by the limitations of hazardous water sources, Akol and her fellow community members now have the ability to access clean and safe water.

Akol Beatrice collecting water from the built protected well in Lataaya village.
Akol Beatrice collecting water from the built protected well in Lataaya village.

Kilama Bosco, the Water Officer in Gulu District, explains the impact of the Red Cross interventions, “Prior to URCS’ involvement, the functionality of water points in Bungatila sub-county stood at 79.7%. However, after the Skybird Project’s intervention, the functionality increased to an impressive 82.35%.”

The Skybird Project’s scope extended beyond individual wells. It encompassed the construction of five protected springs in peri-urban communities, with Bungatira sub-county receiving three and Paicho sub-county receiving two, all fully operational.

Additionally, seven water tanks were installed in Bardege/Layibi Division and Laroo/Pece Division in Gulu City, providing access to clean and safe water for surrounding communities.

Furthermore, the project focused on capacity building, training water user committees on their roles and responsibilities, and ensuring sustainable water management within the communities. Training sessions were conducted for the members of the households hosting the water tanks, enabling them to handle the tanks efficiently and equipping them with knowledge on sharing water resources responsibly.

Rehabilitating Boreholes for Wider Impact

Recognizing the significance of boreholes in ensuring widespread access to clean water, the Skybird Project rehabilitated ten boreholes in Gulu District. Bungatira and Paicho sub-counties each received five rehabilitated boreholes. This comprehensive approach has led to a substantial increase in safe water sources, benefiting numerous communities.

Residents of Bugantila Subcounty fetching water from one of the rehabilitated boreholes by URCS supported by the Skybird project.
Residents of Bugantila Subcounty fetching water from one of the rehabilitated boreholes by URCS supported by the Skybird project.

Ballam Oyugi, the supervisor of the Skybird Project at the Uganda Red Cross Society, emphasizes the commitment of the organization in alleviating water-related challenges. “By collaborating closely with local authorities and Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) initiatives, the project strives to ensure that communities receive sustained access to clean water,” said Oyugi.

Beyond Gulu District, the Skybird Project is being implemented in multiple branches of the Uganda Red Cross Society, including Lira, Adjumani, Ntungamo, Kampala South, Moroto, Iganga, and Rakai. Austrian Red Cross through Uganda Red Cross Society countinues to improve acess to clean and safe water in communities across Uganda.