Reviews & Profiles
A village caught in the thick of a sewage problem
Posted Thursday, March 21 2013 at 00:00
It is no secret that Gulu, the epicentre of the two and half decade insurgency has become the political and economic power house of the Acholi people, now with a population of more than 400,000 as infrastructure and business flourish.
The town that sits on a slope overlooks a range of buildings, from ramshackle houses to modern stylist premises of hotels, shops and residential buildings.
One of those areas is the slum of Limo, and Forest Ward in Laroo Division, Gulu Municipality, which is cramped like an internal displaced persons’ camp. The settlers in this area faced with the problem of sewage flow in the running water, that comes through Laroo stream.
The sewage comes in two ways: along with the flowing running rain water and through the burst underground sewage pipes in the town that lead to the 21-year-old lagoon.
Harmful effects of the sewage
Now the residents who live along the stream are worried of the pollution of the air and the effect on crops and how it will affect them, especially during wet seasons.
“It has an unbearable smell. During the rain season, people cross over to the next village because they cannot stand it,” Ms Proscovia Lagen 24, a resident in the area says. She adds that many of her neighbours have resorted to growing perishable crops which have shown an abnormality, raising fears of possible harm to consumers.
“We feel uncertain about the onions and lettuce, because they taste abnormal,” Lagen says.
Mr Odora Lacwiya who grows sugarcane in the wetland near lagoon has not realised the benefits he thought he would get from the plant as the stems have lost their sweetness.
“You chew once and just spit the juice because of a bitter stem,” he says.
Even worse, Odora says, two of his children were recently diagnosed with Hepatitis E, body swelling and rashes at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital in December last year as result of being in contact with the waste water.
He says the concerned authorities have failed to sensitise the public on the risk associated with the waste water on agriculture and human beings.
Equally, Florence Adong 39, a mother of six children claims she and her children suffered typhoid and intestinal worms associated with the waste water.
In September last year, officials from the National Environmental Management Authorities (Nema) and the National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC) visited the Lagoon but Adong says none returned to give them feedback. When asked about the matter, Gulu District National Environment Officer Francesca Atto says she is hardly aware of the problem because nobody reported the complaint to her office.
Part of the problem is the rising population. Gulu Municipality has a population of over 100,000 people which has overwhelmed the current sewage system. It has 600 households connected to it and releases 40,000 litres of waste water into the lagoon each day.
Mr John Luwa, Gulu District Population Officer says the June 2012 survey by the Planning office of Gulu District, shows that the total number of people using latrines as 217, 442.