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Uganda also known as the "Pearl of Africa" is a 32 million strong East African nation. While the country gained independence in 1962 from the United Kingdom, it still suffers from the base issues that affect all developing nations. Due to “Africa’s longest war” (21-years) and displacement of local population to refugee camps, existing water infrastructures in Uganda has been completely devastated.  A third of the population still doesn't have access to an improved water source and 40 % of people live on less than $2 a day. According to WHO an improved water source is defined as a source that is likely to provide safe drinking water.


With extreme poverty people struggle to buy food and educate their children. Nationwide reforms introduced by the government of Uganda to bring business efficiency into water service management, has instead led to reduced access for the poor as prices for these essential services have risen. Spending money on water is like an unaffordable luxury to many families, especially at the prohibitive cost offered by the government of Uganda. Many have to walk for miles everyday to fetch water often from distant and polluted water sources.    In the past, these water sources were clean and ever flowing. However, due to neglect these water sources are in dire need of repair and maintenance. 

The Project: 


In June, 2011, IHSAN (now Sanitation for All)  provided a grant of $10,000 to the Global Volunteer Network (GVN) Foundation.  Our partner, The Real Uganda, managed the grant, drawing upon its group of 23 Ugandan community-based organizations and schools in central and south Uganda.  A generous grant from our corporate sponsor, Triple Canopy provided the funding for this project.  The grant  achieved the following:


  • Renovated four natural spring wells in the rural areas of Kitoola and Biibo in Buikwe District and two wells in the semi-urban Kigombya and Kasangalabi in Mukono District, then finished the surface foundation of all four wells and installed pumps


  • This project provides clean, free water to more than 3,000 people and six schools where before there was none


  • Educated local people about the importance of using clean water, not just any water available


  • Created temporary jobs for hundreds of local people – carrying supplies, making bricks, digging, technical construction, site clearing


  • Demonstrated to local people that they need not rely on government to develop the area, they can do it themselves


  • Changed local people’s negative mentality toward development


  • Brought unity between neighboring villages as they worked together to bring clean water to their people.


We learn from every project we complete and apply the learnings to future projects.  This project reaffirmed the importance of extensively involving the locals in the projects to create ownership and long-term stewardship. 


Another problem that was addressed, that has been noted in other areas, is working with the local leadership to remove padlocks from the pumps.  The leaders worry that the locals don’t know how to operate the pumps and will break them.  To counter this, The Real Uganda held an official “well opening” event that included training for everyone to learn how to use the pump, reducing the concern about breaking the pump and eliminating the need for a padlock. 


Education is also always a key component.  Many people have never been made aware of water-borne diseases, therefore didn’t appreciate the importance of drinking only clean water to keep themselves and their families healthy. 


Finally, the role of government cannot be ignored.  It was important to get governmental authorization to execute this project.  The government isn’t likely to drill wells for rural communities as they are focused on building out piped water delivery systems, and charging for the water.  This water is not always clean.  Well water is free, hence not generating any revenue for the government.  We also learned that renovating old wells provides great value for our investment and can extend the impact of our donation to many more people than drilling new wells.  



For more pictures and information please check a detailed report from our partner GVNF- 

Our Field Partner : The Real Uganda 


'The Real Uganda' is a local Ugandan organization started in 2005 that puts money and skills into the grassroots of south central and western Uganda. The Real Uganda works with over 23 Ugandan community based organizations and schools in south and central Uganda. Its aim is to increase the capacities of these organizations to better complete their work by recruiting and placing foreign volunteers. The work done by the local organizations and the recruited volunteers include educating and feeding children, building classrooms, homes and clinics, or spreading leadership skills. The Real Uganda also provides funds, and leadership training to achieve this mission. The volunteer placement programs also aim to raise awareness around the world about the successes and challenges of life in Uganda. For more information please visit :



Operating Partner : Global Volunteer Network Foundation


The GVN Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization in the United States with special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Its mission is to support the work of charitable organizations around the world that assist children and women. In the past GVN has been involved with various development and relief projects including raising $33,000 for the Haiti earthquake victims. As a part of the Haiti earth-quake relief effort, with the help of IHSAN and other donors, GVNF helped set up a community center that provided post-disaster assistance to 150 adults and 200 children. The center provided several forms of relief assistance including providing a Health clinic, a ‘Child Safe Zone' (A place for children to play and learn) and grief counseling. Additionally, the center provided classes for children in fields such as arts and languages.  In Ghana, GVNF has worked with 'Children Better Way' (CBW) to help Liberian refugees in the Buduburam Refugee Camp.  For more information please visit :



Kitoola Village Well : 


This is a highly populated rural area in Uganda that has had a natural well for more than a decade.  It is filled with stagnant water that is contaminated by fertilizers from the sugar industry. However, the subsurface water is clean and not too far below surface. 

Meeting of Kitoola community members

Digging the well 

Kitoola well foundation construction 

Kitoola completed well 


Biibo Village Well : 


This well has existed for more than three decades and has been the water source for a large number of uses in the community including the use of the well for washing clothes. This has steadily contaminated the water source. We constructed a channel and diverted the stagnant water away from the well. Additional renovation helped the unprotected deep well to protect children from drowning when fetching water. The restoration of this well provided a new life-line to the community.  

Meeting of Biibo community members

Biibo well foundation construction 

Biibo wellbore lining

Biibo completed well


Kasangalabi Village Well : 


A seven year old well in a semi-urban area, that was unprotected and exposed to waste water, dust, and gas fumes. People drawing water were forced to wait for the debris to settle each time a new person begins to fill their jerrycan. The immediate area was being further destroyed as locals had resorted to digging smaller ponds adjacent to the well, to reduce their waiting time for drawing water. This area has access to piped 'National Water' so the government has stopped all well maintenance and wants the locals to pay money for the use of water which is not clean. This well was a  great candidate for renovation as the water table is close to surface.

Meeting of Kasangalabi community members

Kasangalabi construction  in-progress

Kasangalabi well digging

Kasangalabi completed well


Kigombya Village Well : 


Originally a swimming hole for children the well became an important source when the nearby borehole broke down. The locals dug the well deeper and manually affixed a drain pipe so they could start using it for household water. As this was done with no outside help or funds and with poor skills, the result was rather unsatisfactory. The drain pipe no longer worked and people fetched water by immersing their jerrycans. We renovated this well, making it more efficient and clean, rejuvenate the background pressure gradient and secure the drain pipe.  

Kigombya well before the renovation 

Kasangalabi construction  in-progress

Kigombya well before the renovation 

Kigombya well under construction 

Kasangalabi completed well

Kigombya well completed

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