Government, help people in water-stressed areas

Wednesday April 8 2020

Measure. Women wash their hands before entering

Measure. Women wash their hands before entering Kalerwe market last weekend. Photo by Rachel Mabala 


While one of the presidential and Health ministry directives to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the country is frequent hand washing, there are many communities in the country that, in spite of their wish to adhere to the directive, are facing the challenge of water shortage (see, Hand washing dilemma in water scarce regions in the Daily Monitor of April 7).

The government has put in place commendable measures, some very drastic such as imposing a night curfew, calling for social distancing, and urging people to use sterilisers to clean their hands.

However, it is important that the government follows up some of these directives not only to ensure compliance, but also to find out what challenges people are facing.

This is why when the government announced and rolled out food distribution to the vulnerable members of Wakiso and and Kampala Metropolitan Area, who are affected by the lockdown, the move was welcomed by many people.
In the same vein, it would have been good if government also sought to know whether people have water and detergents for washing their hands.

Doing so would have helped government to know that there are areas that are water-stressed. Where there is water scarcity, people start rationing water and in the process prioritise using the available water for drinking and cooking, and not frequent hand washing.

This is a dangerous situation, which if not urgently looked into, will put government’s directive in regard to hand washing to waste with dire consequences to the affected communities in particular and the country in general.


As a short-term measure, the government should find a way of availing water to such communities. For instance, government should secure and avail water trucks and use them to distribute water to areas where there is scarcity. In fact, all the directives and guidelines that have been given relating to covid-19 are equally important and should adhered to by everyone if we are to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, the government should not only use security agencies to enforce the curfew or stay home, but it should also provide a sure source of water to citizens, including those living in water-stressed areas, to enable them wash their hands to fight coronavirus.

The Kaabong District chairperson was quoted as saying, “Very few people frequently wash their hands because of lack of adequate water.” This state of affairs should not be allowed to continue for the sake of our lives.
Beyond just saying that water is life, the urgent need for water today is more critical than ever before.

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