ARUA. Inadequate clean water sources in River Oli division, Arua municipality is posing health risks to the residents in the area.
Most of the residents of the Division rely on the water from natural sources like streams, rainwater and wells.
Officials attribute the challenge to the biting poverty among the members of the community who are unable to afford water from the taps which are close to them.
In Oli B cell alone, there are 17 wells with only two boreholes of which one has broken down.
Ms Neima Maneno, a resident of the cell who depends on the wells for water says the wells are free and easily accessible for her.
Maneno said her family also drinks the water they obtain from the well especially after boiling and filtering it with a piece of cloth.
But Ms Benty Hamida, another resident said she used the water from the well for washing clothes.
This is because she wants to save water she buys from the borehole and the National Water and Sewerage Cooperation (NWSC) taps for drinking and cooking.
Ms Ajiba Ejiribi, 60, a resident of Oli B cell dug a well on his compound to save his family from spending on buying water.
Ejiribi explained that she dug the well because of the suffering people in her area are going through with less response by the government to address the concern of inadequate sources of clean water.
Officials speak out
Mr Muzaidhi Khemis, the River Oli Division chairperson said the wells have contributed to the loss of lives of children.
He said recently in Oli B cell, a child drowned in one of the wells and died.
Much as he acknowledged the existence of the numerous wells in the Division, Muzaidhi said politicians and technocrats of the Division have embarked on sensitizing people about the dangers associated with the wells.
He said at the moment, the Division is considering allocating more funds to the water department to address the challenge.
Similarly, Ms Rose Akawo, the Arua municipal council health Educator said the municipality has continued to discourage locals from drinking water from wells other than using it for washing clothes.
Akawo said just like wells, boreholes in urban settings have risks of being contaminated in cases where latrines are not situated 30 meters away from them.
She said water source that the municipal council has recommended for people to consume is that from NWSC.
She said the municipality carries out quarterly water quality surveillance by testing water samples from the sources and thus the samples from boreholes and wells have been confirmed unsafe for human consumption.
Akawo said time will come for municipal authorities to close all wells and unsafe water sources after sensitizing the community.
She said this is in a bid to minimize cases of diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, and typhoid which are common among the population.
Akawo confirmed that Arua municipality’s safe water coverage stands at 60% as many households and communities are now accessing water from NWSC.
She urged people using water from boreholes and wells in the municipality to consider boiling it first or treat it with chlorine tablets before drinking.
Arua district Water officer, Mr Stephen Obitre said the dense settlement explains a reason as to why water from boreholes and wells in municipalities are easily accessible.
He said on top of contamination from latrines, there are household activities like disposal of solid wastes that encourage contamination of water sources because the wastes later decompose to get their ways into the ground thus entering into the wells.
According to the 2019 Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) projected population, the number of people in Arua municipality has shot to 68,800 with 46,800 people living in Oli division.
The rise is from 61,946 people in 775,080 households in the 2014 National population and Housing Census of which 60 percent of the population in 2019 has access to safe water and the rest still depending on unsafe water sources.