Kaliro Baseline Results

 A clearer view of the challenges ahead in two Ugandan sub-counties.

Earlier this year Lifewater began a multi-year program to help 30,000 people in the Kaliro district of eastern Uganda. In April, Lifewater staff in Uganda completed a baseline survey of hundreds of households, which gives a detailed account of what challenges communities face in accessing safe water, improved sanitation, and effective hygiene practices.

Lifewater will serve about 5,500 households in Nawaikoke and Bumanya sub-counties using its Vision of a Healthy Village strategy. Communities, homes, and primary schools will be served with improved WASH access and facilitate behavioral changes that improve health for families. In addition to the people-centered WASH work, Lifewater will complete 50 new or repaired wells, 13 rain tanks, and 26 new or repaired blocks of school latrines.

Baseline survey results are essential to directing efforts toward the behaviors and tools that will make the greatest difference as well as assessing the program’s long-term effectiveness in decreasing preventable, water-borne disease. Those living in Nawaikoke and Bumanya sub-counties will see a lot of changes over the next few years as WASH access improves, and it comes at a critical time, since many families are suffering.

“This baseline report tells us what makes this region unique – both the challenges they face and the assets they already have that we can leverage to serve more people, more effectively,” says Lindsay Lange, Lifewater’s Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. “Our field staff enter data that allows us to track progress in real time, so we know when we succeed and where more work needs to be done.”

Field staff discovered during the survey that most people in Nawaikoke and Bumanya have access to an improved water source (a well or borehole), but the sources are often far away and the average time to collect water (including the time spent standing in line) during the dry season is 2.5 hours. This increases conflict between neighbors and even within households. Also, staff observed that very few households transported and stored the water safely, meaning the water they used was contaminated.

Fewer than 3% of households have an improved latrine “with dignity” (private, with walls and a roof), and only 12% have a handwashing device with soap and water. Only 1% of caregivers reported washing their hands after handling children’s feces or before feeding their children.

Families in these communities suffer from a lack of formal education. Almost a quarter of adults have no formal education. One quarter of adults finished primary school, including only 20% of women. Children generally have a higher rate of enrollment, but on average, families reported that their children missed more than two days of school in the past two weeks due to illness. Girls often stay home from school during menstruation.

Households in Nawaikoke and Bumanya report that diarrhea is a common illness in children, with more than one third of young children suffering from diarrhea within the past week. Stopping diarrhea is especially urgent in these communities because one in five residents of the area is under age five, a time when diarrhea can be deadly. Over 500,000 children under five die each year from diarrhea around the world.

The baseline survey found that WASH-related illness is not just a problem for the young, however. Adults reported losing nearly four and a half days of work in the past two weeks due to illness, either their own or those in their care. Coupled with the report that the average household spent $17 dollars last month on medical care, the effects of preventable illnesses are widespread. In an area where many households are barely at subsistence level, illness is devastating the potential for productive labor and economic engagement.

“Field staff will visit each household every month, working with them to establish the tools and practices that they can do on their own to make their compound clean and keep their family safe from disease,” says Dr. Pamela Crane-Hoover, Lifewater’s VP of Global Programs. “These require little or no outside investment, they are easily transferred, and they make a significant, immediate impact to improve health.”


Lifewater International is a non-profit Christian water development organization dedicated to effectively serving vulnerable children and families by partnering with underserved communities to overcome water poverty. With experience in more than 40 countries since 1977, Lifewater serves people of all faiths, focusing on contextually appropriate water sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) development. For more information, contact Christine Zurbach ( or visit Lifewater International is based in San Luis Obispo, CA.

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