Kabale residents pay Shs 1,500 per jerrycan of water amid scarcity

Kabale residents pay Shs 1,500 per jerrycan of water amid scarcity
The water crisis in Kabale Municipality and parts of the wider district has forced residents and businesspeople to trek for long distances in search of clean water.

Kabale, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Kabale municipality and its surrounding areas are currently grappling with a water shortage crisis that has persisted for seven days, raising concerns of a potential disease outbreak among residents. This scarcity has led to a surge in the price of water, with a 20-litre jerrycan now fetching between Shs 1,500 to Shs 2,000.

The affected regions, including the municipality itself and the sub-counties of Kyanamira, Kitumba in Kabale district, and Bubare sub-county in Rubanda district, primarily rely on water supplied by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). This water is sourced from Lake Bunyonyi, approximately 8.9 kilometers away from Kabale town.

Residents report that taps have been dry since last week, plunging them into a dire situation where they must fork out considerable sums to secure water for drinking, cooking, and maintaining hygiene in their households.

For instance, Waswa Bukhari, a hotelier in Kabale town, laments that due to the considerable distance from the nearest water source, he is compelled to shell out shillings 5,000 daily to purchase water to sustain his business operations. This expenditure significantly eats into his profits.

Aggrey Matsiko, another local businessman, shares his struggle, disclosing that he now resorts to using a motorcycle to fetch water from a nearby stream, albeit acknowledging concerns about its cleanliness.

Frustration mounts as residents question the National Water and Sewerage Corporation’s (NWSC) inability to provide a clear explanation for the ongoing crisis.

Kabale is grappling with water crisis.

Sam Arineitwe, the Central Division LCIII Chairperson, expresses particular concern for households with indoor flushing toilets, as they face the risk of clogging due to the water shortage.

Arineitwe also raises questions about the absence of reservoir tanks in Kabale town, which could serve as backup during supply disruptions.

“I want to appeal to National Water to move fast because this is something that has taken a lot of days. It also puts us in a situation of wanting to know if something like this has happened, what can we do?,” Mr Arineitwe said.

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In response to inquiries, Patrick Otim, the manager of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation’s Kabale Branch, attributes the crisis to the breakdown of high-yielding water pump motors at the Bunyonyi intake, exacerbated by intermittent power supply.

Mr. Otim reassures the public, urging patience as efforts are underway to rectify the situation.

“One of our motors got damaged, it is a high engine motor. Currently, we are running at 40% capacity using the slightly smaller pump to produce water for the town. This production capacity is not enough to meet the demands of the town but the technical team is on ground. We received a new motor, they are fitting it,” Mr Otim said.