Water and sanitation are essential for life and health, but they are also essential for dignity, empowerment and prosperity. Water and sanitation are human rights, fundamental to every child and adult. But in Uganda, poor sanitation and hygiene, as well as unequal access to safe drinking water, make thousands of children very sick and at risk of death.
Diarrhoea alone, one of 3 major childhood killers in Uganda, kills 33 children every day. In most cases, children get the disease by drinking unsafe water or coming into contact with contaminated hands - theirs or parents or caregivers - that haven't been washed with soap. Early childhood diarrhoea isn't only deadly; it also contributes to Uganda's high levels of stunting, which in turn affects children's cognitive development & performance at school.
Access to improved water & sanitation facilities doesn't, on its own, necessarily lead to improved health. It needs another step: there's now very clear evidence showing the importance of hygienic behaviour - especially hand washing with soap after defecating & before eating or preparing food - to health improvement. Another key to reducing childhood illness & death is to stop using open fields or the bush as toilets.
In rural areas we work with community leaders to monitor & report progress, as well as evidence-based advocacy. We promote public/private partnerships for innovative sanitation technologies & maintenance of WASH facilities. To help communities build resilience, we strengthen emergency preparedness & response for diseases such as cholera. Clean water must be readily available for people to improve hygiene habits, as must soap. Girls must have privacy and dignity when using sanitation facilities.