ARUA/YUMBE. The West Nile region is headed for improvement in the rural water quality following the establishment of two testing laboratories in the districts of Arua and Yumbe for the first time.
Officials say the laboratories will enhance rapid tests and save a lot of time and money except for more comprehensive tests that would necessitate traveling to the National Water and Sewerage Corporation facility in Entebbe or the test laboratory of the ministry of water and environment in Kampala.
The acquisition of the hi-tech gear was an initiative of Oxfam under the integrated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), shelter and protection response to South Sudanese refugees in Bidibidi in Yumbe and Imvepi and Rhino Camp settlements in Arua.
The sh100m lab project was funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid.
The Bluetooth enabled gadgets include photometer for physical and chemical analysis such as colour, smell, electrical conductivity and PH among others; an incubator for bacteriological analysis and a portable multi-parameter meter which does physical, chemical and bacteriological analysis all at one go.
The labs are also equipped with computers and printers for easy printing of test results.
While unveiling one of the labs at the Arua district water department offices on Friday, the commandant of the Rhino Camp settlement, Armitage Baskania urged timely testing of water quality especially for the refugee population where typhoid is a menace.
“Do you know what it means to be suffering from typhoid? In Ocea cluster we abandoned a borehole because some bad particles were discovered in it, even though it was too late,” he said.
The Yumbe district chairman Taban Yasin commended Oxfam and the EU for establishing the labs saying they will serve not just refugees but the population and local governments in the entire region.
“These labs will help to improve the quality of water people drink. All boreholes will be keenly tested and any contaminated water source will be immediately disqualified,” he said.
Martin Andua, an assistant chief administrative officer in Arua commented that adequate safe water would play a big role in the socio-economic development of West Nile if the lab apparatus are used for the intended purpose.
He pointed out that many intestinal warms such as bilharzia are predominant in the region, impairing people’s productive capacity but providing clean water will cut down on medical interventions.
Joseph Okuda, Oxfam’s emergency response manager for Arua said in addition to the lab apparatus and accompanying furniture, Oxfam will employ two lab assistants whose salary requirements it will meet.
Oxfam, a global confederation of charity organisations is one of the key players in the WASH sector helping both the refugees and the host community.
The organisation is also planning to construct a lagoon to treat the human excrement from the refugee camps and piped water system in some water stressed areas such as Pawor Sub County in Arua.