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Uganda Red Cross Society and Austrian Red Cross Enhance WASH Services in Bundibugyo District.

Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS), in collaboration with the Austrian Red Cross with funding from the Austrian Development Agenc (ADA), has successfully completed the DRC Crisis Bundibugyo Response Project, marking a significant milestone in improving Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) services in the Bundibugyo district.

This initiative, which began in September 2023 and concluded on March 31, 2024, has brought crucial support to refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the local host community.

Additionally, 100 solar disinfection bags (SODIS) were distributed among refugees and asylum seekers, along with 200 men’s dignity kits and water purification items such as PUR and Aquatabs.

The project also included significant efforts in latrine decommissioning and disinfection.

Project Manager Eng. Jimmy Otim highlighted the urgency and impact of the interventions. “Following our technical field visit, we observed the dire water situation where both asylum seekers and the host community relied on contaminated sources like River Lamia and River Kafulege. Recognizing the urgent need, we provided water purification tabs and innovative SODIS bags while constructing a spring well. Today, we are proud to see the long-term solution of a reliable safe water supply for Busunga Town Council,” he stated.

Project Manager Eng. Jimmy Otim (second from the right) and Austrian Red Cross country Finance Officer, Messiah Asasira (third from the left, wearing a long-sleeved brown shirt) are seen posing with some of the volunteers from Bundibugyo who received bicycles with support from the Austrian Red Cross.

The newly constructed spring well in Katooke cell, Busunga Central Ward, has been hailed as a lifesaver.

Erias Kibomwi, the LC1 Chairperson of Katooke Cell, expressed profound gratitude for the intervention. “The spring well is a game-changer for our community. Previously, we shared water sources with animals, exposing us to numerous waterborne diseases. Thanks to URCS and the Austrian Red Cross, we now have safe water for drinking, cooking, and bathing,” he remarked.

In a move to enhance volunteer mobility and extend WASH services, the project provided 15 volunteers with bicycles and comprehensive training in hygiene promotion, sanitation, and maintaining a safe water chain.

The project’s inception was driven by a critical assessment conducted by Angelica Forsstroem, the former Austrian Red Cross Country Representative, who identified significant WASH gaps following a political unrest in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

This unrest led to a surge of asylum seekers into Bundibugyo, exacerbating the strain on already limited WASH resources in Kakuka Sinidira, Kisuba, Nyahuka, Bundingoma, and Busunga sub-counties.

The project’s success underscores the importance of coordinated humanitarian efforts in addressing urgent community needs.

The collaborative efforts of URCS and the Austrian Red Cross have not only provided immediate relief but have also established sustainable solutions for future challenges.

This initiative has significantly improved WASH services and Menstrual Hygiene Management while enhancing volunteer mobility, ultimately boosting the resilience and well-being of both refugees and host communities in Bundibugyo district