Bulomi Community in Butaleja, Eastern Uganda, has always had two sources of “amadhi” (local dialect for water); the dirty brown swamp under the foot bridge and the gray, clay-filled spring that was shared with local animals.
The visibly contaminated water was used throughout the community for cooking, bathing and washing. Even when diseases like typhoid and diarrhoea became very prevalent, the water was still used because there was no alternative.
Moses Wango, the officer in charge of sanitation in Butaleja district, reported that “85% of the registered child deaths in the district were, in one way or another, related to water”.
So, when the Fields of Life drilling team drove into Bulomi for the first time, a crowd of people had already gathered to see where the clean, safe water would come from. The crowd continued to watch the drillers closely until the moment when fresh, clear water sprung up from the ground.
“Amadhi! Amadhi! Amadhi!” were the cries heard throughout the community. The joy was and excitement was visible in frenzied jumps and shouts…even from grown men who had never seen clean water their entire life. They cupped the water in their palms like precious treasure and took a deep drink, “Ah, amadhi!”
Within minutes a long queue of plastic jerrycans had formed as people waited fill them with water. “We just had to let them have the water, there simply was so much excitement”, says Charles the Fields of Life drilling supervisor.
Eventually, the concrete casing was completed, the pump assembled and there it stood, a shiny symbol and source of life for Bulomi. The Chairperson of the Community spoke on behalf of his people, “Thank you for changing our story. We have consumed dirty amadhi for generations but I am very glad that God has given us real amadhi. We will take good care of this well.”
The community of Bulomi, comprising 260 households, now has clean, safe water.