About 7,800 residents of Ndangara and Rumuri parishes in Ryeru and Kicwamba sub-counties in Bunyaruguru, Rubirizi District are consuming dirty water which has exposed them to diseases.
The residents draw water from Kyabazo Swamp in Ndangara parish, Ryeru Sub-county.
They say their appeal to government to improve the water source has fallen on deaf ears.
“Four villages in the two sub-counties draw water from this swamp which is shared by livestock. The danger is there are many pit-latrines near the swamp,” Mr John Patrick Tumuhimbise, a resident of Kabukwiri village in Ndangara parish, reveals.
He adds: “Typhoid has become common because residents drink dirty water. We are likely to suffer from cholera and dysentery.”
Ms Agnes Nayebare, a resident of Kabukwiri village in Ndangara parish, says residents no longer buy light coloured clothes because of lack of clean water.
“The water stains white clothes; it changes colour of maize porridge,” she says.
Just like many of the residents, Ms Nayebare treks about five kilometers from her home to the water source.
Speaking to Daily Monitor in an interview recently, many of the residents blame their leaders for failing to lobby for them to get piped clean water.
The LC3 councillor for Ndangara Sub-county, Mr Snore Bikorwomuhangi, says whenever it rains, all the dirt is swept down to Kyabazo swamp.
Mr Bikorwomuhangi adds that the district officials claim that government does not have money to give the residents to improve the water source.
“Our biggest challenge in this area is lack of clean water. People are spending their little money on treatment; 95 per cent of our locals are diagnosed with typhoid whenever they go to health facilities. We have been neglected by government because some areas have piped water,” says Mr Bikorwomuhangi.
The Ryeru Sub-county chairperson, Mr Richard Kimunyu, says despite the numerous protests by people over lack of clean water for many years there has been no progress.
“I was first elected chairman in 2011, I found people crying about dirty water. More than 1,200 households fetch water from Kyabazo, these are about 7800 people. You can clearly see that water is not clean; the colour is like that of dry tea,” he says.
The residents have instructed local leaders and crime preventers to identify those who constructed pit latrines near the swamp and force them to close them.
But the councillor for Ryeru Sub-county, Mr John Mubangizi, says Ndangara and Rumuri parishes are on a high altitude and water pumped from Lake Nkugutte cannot reach the area.
“Ndangara and Rumuri parishes are at a higher altitude of about 1,700m above sea level and Bunyaruguru water gravity scheme which is run by national water is at 1,300m above the sea level which makes it difficult for people to have clean water,” he says.
“These places are highly water stressed and the only available source is Kyabazo which is stagnant, smelly and has algae. It is extremely unsafe for human consumption,” Mr Mubangizi adds.
According to Mr Mubangizi, the soils in Rubirizi do not favour construction of boreholes.
He says the rocks underneath are permeable and cannot hold water.
However, the district chairperson, Mr Sylvester Agubashongorera, says there in an intervention in the offing.
“Kabukwiri is a very big hilly area without nearby sources of water. But in this financial year (2017/2018), Shs1 billion has been allocated to building a rain tank. We have applied for funding in the Ministry of Water and the Japanese embassy so that we can be able to use solar energy to pump water from Lake Kako,’’ Mr Agubanshongorera reveals.
Safe water coverage in Rubirizi stands at 65 per cent, according to the district chairman.
The Bunyaruguru County MP, Mr John Twesigye Ntamuhira, says the government is aiming at providing clean water to the people.
“It is our plan as NRM government and as a representative of the people to ensure that water reaches every corner of Rubirizi and Bunyaruguru in particular. The mandate of water expansion is already with government and we are following it up,’’ says Mr Ntamuhira.
The Rubirizi District water officer, Mr George Musinguzi, was not available for comment as he didn’t answer our repeated calls and text messages.