Report of Lifewater’s Mayuge, Uganda Program Shows Measurable Results
The prevention of childhood deaths is perhaps the globe’s most urgent mission, one prioritized by people from all backgrounds and value sets.
Each year, an estimated 480,000 children under the age of five die due to diarrheal disease, an illness primarily prevented with simple sanitation and hygiene practices and safe water access. It is the second-leading cause deaths for children under five globally.
In Uganda, where nearly half the population is under the age of 15 years old, the race to end the water crisis is a race to save the lives of children.
The results are in: 2020 data from Lifewater’s first program cycle in Mayuge, Uganda shows that safe water and health practices are saving lives and increasing wellbeing.
Mayuge, Uganda: Top Data Highlights
Vision of a Healthy Village (VHV) is Lifewater’s grassroots program model for solving the global water and sanitation crisis. It prioritizes community participation, WASH (water access, sanitation, and hygiene), real-time data gathering, and sustainable safe water solutions.
Between July 2017 and January 2020, Lifewater staff implemented the VHV program to serve 11,983 people. Following program completion, staff conducted household surveys as well as interviews and Focus Group Discussions with community members like students, teachers, and pastors to measure WASH progress in the area.
Lifewater CEO David LeVan said, “God works in incredible ways, and we acknowledge that these numbers are just the beginning… What will follow is generations of change for families on the margins in Uganda.”
Below are the top three findings:
1. Before Lifewater programs, 33 percent of households in Mayuge had at least one child under five with diarrhea in the week prior. Afterwards, that number reduced to 14 percent, a 57 percent decrease.
In 2017, Lifewater staff trained community health promoters in Mayuge, Uganda to help their neighbors adopt healthy habits. These habits include hand washing, using a drying rack to keep dishes off the ground, constructing a toilet to keep feces separate from children, and more.
WASH Engineers constructed safe drinking water sources built to last. The result was visibly healthier children and 57 percent fewer instances of diarrhea.
One community leader said, “Children used to fall sick and others died due to constant diarrhea in the community, but nowadays they are not falling sick and death is not common in the community…the program has helped to reduce the death of children under five years.”
2. Community members used to walk for 120 minutes to gather water one time during the day. They now walk 16 minutes roundtrip. That’s an 87 percent decrease in time spent walking for water.
When Lifewater began work in the Mayuge district, the average travel time was two hours per journey in the dry season. Mothers with very young children, the elderly, and the disabled struggled to make these trips. They often reverted to closer sources like ponds and rivers.
Rates of diarrhea, which can be deadly for children, were very high. This indicated a great need for more water sources in the area as well as education on how to reduce illness.
Following Lifewater programs, families were able to gather safe water in a 16-minute round trip in the dry season.
“Before Lifewater, we had a water struggle,” a community member said. “But after Lifewater we now have adequate safe water sources in the community.”
“We don’t waste any time walking far away to look for water,” she added. “The time which was wasted looking for water is now spent doing other productive activities like agriculture.”
3. Before Lifewater programs, parents used to pay an average of $7.37 every four weeks for healthcare. Now, they pay $2.46. That’s a 67 percent decrease in medical expenses, allowing money to be saved or used elsewhere.
Safe water has a domino effect in villages. It allows children to go to school and parents to go to work, increasing both access to income and education.
As a result, we often find that families are wealthier for having safe water sources. In Mayuge, the VHV program created a 67 percent decrease in money spent on healthcare.
Families are investing that saved income into education, business opportunities, more permanent homes, and more.
“Our children are going to school and we are able to pay school fees out of the money we used to spend in the hospitals,” one mother in Mayuge said. “Our children are healthy and growing well so we expect better life in the coming years.”
Make Real Change with Lifewater
We are Christians committed to ending the global water crisis, one village at a time. Your gifts reach communities in great need of life-saving safe water and health practices, making a difference we can measure in real time.
Children live healthy, return to school, and thrive as God intends. Families invest in their futures, and communities are transformed.