Uganda – parishes could lose out on money over latrine coverage

Katine parishes could lose out on money over latrine coverage

Sub-county decides to make pit latrine coverage a condition of receiving government funding for income generating schemes

 Residents of Katine sub-county could miss out on government funding if they do not improve pit latrine coverage in the area.

In an effort to eradicate poverty at household level, the national government is providing parishes with money to fund income generating projects. The money is given to the district and then passed to sub-county councils to distribute to their parishes.

As a way of promoting hygiene and sanitation in Katine, the sub-county council has decided to make pit latrine coverage a condition of receiving funding, which could mean some parishes missing out.

According to Charles Elasu, Katine parish chief, each parish should get around UShs 1.3m from the UShs 8m grant given to the sub-county under the government’s Community Driven Development (CDD) programme. The money comes out of the Local Development Grant, given to sub-counties to fund priority areas.

The programme was introduced to encourage a more bottom-up approach to development, giving local communities a chance to initiate projects that would otherwise not be considered a priority at sub-county level. Committees are set up to implement the projects.

However, in Katine the sub-county has stated that each parish must have 85% pit latrine coverage, significantly higher than now, if they want to receive the money.

“We have money coming from government meant to help reduce poverty at household level, but the condition of us benefiting from the grant is that each parish must have at least 85% pit latrine coverage. Unfortunately most of our villages are bellow average,” said Elasu at Katine parish’s sanitation committee meeting last month.

Those at the meeting, which included members of village health teams (VHTs), the heads of local councils and sanitation committee members, noted the need to vigorously mobilise their communities so they can benefit from the grant.

Some of those attending called on the sub-county to support them by ensuring that residents who have failed to dig latrines are arrested and punished.  “We cannot miss [out on] development just because of a few individuals who do not care about their lives,” said Martin Elunyu, Omaria village chairman.

Sub-county chief, James Obore, said he would support such a move.

Tool kits

However, others expressed concern over their ability to dig pit latrines, claiming they lacked the necessary tools.

During the first year of the Katine project, the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref) distributed tool kits, which included wheelbarrows and spades, to each of the six parishes to help them dig latrines. The tool kits were supposed to rotate between villages. The meeting heard that most of the tools were now broken, which meant some villages had missed out, and there were calls for Amref to supply more.

Amref’s water and sanitation officer in Katine, John Leonard Kasule, ruled out the possibility of supplying more tools.

“There is no possibility of supplying more latrine digging equipment to communities in the subsequent years of the project. What was supplied was substantial to enable at least everyone in the communities to have a pit latrine,” he Kasule.

He added that the breakages were not due to the poor quality of the equipment.

“It’s true that some of the tools distributed to communities have broken, but this does not mean that they were of poor quality or weak. Many of the communities still have the tools and they are being used. It’s normal for some tools to break due to excessive use, and it also depends on the areas being excavated. If it’s a rocky area, the tools are likely the break faster than those used elsewhere.”

Kasule said the latest available data on latrine coverage in Katine is not broken down per parish. Instead it represents the total sanitation coverage of the entire sub-county, which stands at 34.2%, compared with 7% at the start of the project in 2007. Amref is now collecting data through the parish sanitation committees to get accurate figures at parish level.

He said Amref would continue to support VHTs and parish sanitation committees in conducting awareness campaigns in their communities aimed at promoting sanitation and hygiene. More materials are expected in the third year of the project.

One of the tasks of the sanitation committees is to ensure that each parish produces five villages that have “model homesteads” from which other residents can learn. Using Personal Hygiene and Sanitation Education (PHASE), the project believes children can play a part in influencing their parents to have the necessary facilities.

Source – The Guardian

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