YUMBE. The Equatorial Coca Cola Bottling Company, South Sudan in partnership with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on Wednesday launched a solar and generator-powered water scheme project in Village 9 and Village 10 in Zone 4 at Bidi Bidi settlement.
The project was implemented by Water Mission Uganda.
Mr Rogers Mugenyi, an engineer with Water Missions Uganda, said the water project, which is valued at more than Shs400m, is expected to serve up to 6,450 refugees.
“The refugees in this area used to rely on water browsers but it was unreliable and very expensive on the side of UNHCR. We expect that once we are done with connecting all the systems, the water system will be much closer to the beneficiaries,” he said.
Mr Mark Hoogendam, the general manager of United Beverage Company (UBC) South Sudan, said the decision was hatched last year in their board meeting to give back to the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda.
He said a similar project was carried out in West Africa where 500,000 refugees got about 1.3 billion litres of clean water.
Mr Acacio Jafar Juliao, the UNHCR head of sub-office in Yumbe District, lauded the donation, adding that it is expected to improve the water ratio per individual from the current 16 litres to 20 litres per person each day.
He said water shortage in the area has been as a result of environmental destruction, adding that since November last year, when dry spell started, thousands of refugees have been facing acute water shortage in Bidi Bidi Settlement.
Mr Acacio said UNHCR this year alone has planned to plant 1 million trees in Yumbe District.
Ms Pauline Mundoro, 30, a resident of Odravu Sub-county in Abara Parish, said: “As one of the host community members, I am extremely happy this will now reduce the burden of moving for several kilometres in search of water.”
Bidi Bidi settlement hosts some 224,000 South Sudanese refugees.
2018. Uganda is one of the largest refugee-hosting nations in the world, with more than 1,100,000 refugees (as of the end of 2018). The vast influx of refugees is due to several factors in Uganda’s neighbouring countries, especially war and violence in South Sudan and the DR Congo, and associated economic crisis and political instability in the region. Uganda has relatively ‘friendly’ policies that provide rights to the refugees, such as rights to education, work, private property, healthcare and other basic social services.