Better Health through WASH in Lira District Uganda
1 location in Uganda
Focus: Drinking Water - Community; Sanitation - Schools
Implementation dates: October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014
Planned impact: 750 people
Status: Approved - Needs Funding
$27,280 estimated project cost
$27,280 requested
$0 funded to date
Peer Review Average Score: 7.86
7 reviews submitted
4 discussion participants


Improvements made to community water supplies and sanitation facilities at schools, coupled with WASH education, encourages school attendance and sustains family health year-round.


Northern Uganda is rebounding after 20 years of oppression and civil war. With the return of peace, communities are rebuilding and embracing opportunities for growth and development. However, water, sanitation and hygiene are needed to sustain healthy communities and improve the quality of life for families. Lira District exhibits some of Uganda's worst health indicators. For example, Lira District government health center data from June 2013 shows 69% of disease cases recorded were WASH related infections and illnesses. Although access to safe water is increasing, sources are not equally distributed, leaving no alternative but to drink from ponds or unprotected springs. Latrine coverage at households is gaining but high-levels of environmental contamination negatively impacts community health, especially during the rainy season.

School enrollment in Lira sub-county Uganda has increased in recent years due to universal primary education and an increase in cultural awareness on the importance of education for girls and young women. However, many conditions still limit school attendance by students in Uganda.

According to a recent sample of five local schools, an average of 35 % of the students missed school due to some form of illness during the rainy season. Records show water-borne diseases including dysentery, diarrhea and typhoid fever as common illnesses, primarily attributed to poor hygiene and sanitation practices in households and schools.

Another limiting factor for school attendance by girls is the lack of sufficient hygiene and sanitation facilities at schools. Because of a shortage of latrines and a lack of privacy, the drop-out rate among girls is high during monthly menstrual periods.

Lifewater and its implementing partner Divine Waters Uganda provide WASH services in northern Uganda, benefiting 130,000 people with safe water and providing WASH education to more than 70,000 people in the past five years. Training Water and Sanitation Committees ensures governance and sustainability.


There are no files currently associated with this plan.


Better Health through WASH in Lira District Uganda

To be named, Fall 2013, Uganda



Primary focus:
Drinking Water - Community
Secondary focus:
Sanitation - Schools

People Getting Safe Drinking Water


Direct beneficiaries include community members who benefit from increased access to an improved water source from a drilled well with a hand pump. Community governance committees fence the pump and receive training in water system management, advocacy for gender diversity, and operations and maintenance. Secondary beneficiaries are counted as number of people over 500 who also receive benefits from the water supply, but who may not get the recommended daily allotment of 15 l/day.

People Getting Sanitation


This project will target latrine construction at one of the schools near the community receiving water.

Schoolchildren Getting Water


People Getting Other Benefits

Community members will participate in hygiene education programs through community venues, utilizing adult education, and through children's WASH programs implemented at the school. This approach has shown to reinforce the knowledge learned by children and adults, resulting in a great opportunity for behavior change in hygiene practices.


Application type:
Start date:
October 1, 2013
Completion date:
September 30, 2014

Technology Used

Lifewater will follow a proven integrative strategy to provide WASH to one community and the surrounding area, including one school. Objectives include:
* Improve access to safe water for use by school and community members by drilling one borehole and installing a hand pump. The well site will be fenced, and water quality tested according to the government requirements.
* Educate school children in WASH using child-focused curriculum (10 Building Blocks for Better Health). School teachers are trained to set up school health clubs where children learn songs, stories, poems and dramas about WASH. Children are mobilized to become change-makers! for WASH at school and in their communities.
* Promote hygiene and sanitation training for villagers using Community health through Hygiene curriculum for adults. A Village Health Team (VHT) is trained using the training-of-trainers approach to reach their neighbors with WASH messages through house-to-house visits and public gatherings.
* Build the capacity of a Water Source and Sanitation Committee (WSSC) to govern and manage WASH facilities and promote behavior change. Sustainability is the primary goal of the which sets and collects water-user fees, oversees use and manages operations and maintenance.

Lifewater has successfully employed this same approach in northern Uganda for more than five years. The implementing partner is trained in all aspects of community development using this approach. The District level government participates in this approach and supports program plans.


1. Conduct baseline survey
2. Identify location of water point and school
3. Sensitize/mobilize community/school
4. WASH promotion/training in community/school
5. Drill water point/ train WASH committee
6. Construct school latrine

Community Organization

Community participation at all stages of the project builds ownership and ultimately leads to sustainable water systems. Communities are engaged in multiple stages: baseline surveys, mobilization and WASH promotion, selection of Water Source and Sanitation Committee (gender balanced), WASH training, providing local materials during drilling, fencing water point, forming water-users group, and in the final project evaluation.

Government Interaction

The local District-level government is the highest authority participating in the project. The District approves a project work plan with support from the Local Council 1 and 2 levels operating under the District. The Water desk will be notified of the well locations, prior to drilling, and be involved in drilling oversight and water quality testing.

Ancillary Activities

training the Water Source and Sanitation Committee helps build local capacity to sustain the water point. their training focuses on financial roles and responsibilities to manage user-fees, WASH promotion, and environmental stewardship.

Film shows using state of the art video equipment and health related films have helped solidify and validate health messages being taught in communities and schools. Film shows are announced in communities and well attended, by several hundred people. This is a fun and useful strategy to reinforce WASH through entertainment.

We are making the effort to focus on menstrual management in schools for young women, since the topic is not being adequately addressed in the home. In school health clubs, girls learn how to make menstrual pads from local materials and how to manage their personal hygiene needs.

Other Issues

There is no information about other issues currently available for this plan.


Maintenance Revenue

Sustainbilit is managed at three levels:

Community -- the Water Source and Sanitation committee is the first line response to sustaining the water system, promoting WASH including construction and maintenance of household latrines, and improvements in WASH behaviors among villagers. Fees collected from water users will pay or support spare parts purchases, and maintenance costs.

Local government - we have trained and equipped local council government offices to perform basic and semi-advanced hand pump repairs. The government is to respond to calls from community WSSCs and provide back-up and support for more technical response.

Divine Waters Uganda - the implementing partner develops and maintains relationships with communities through the WSSC. They can be reached by cell phone should a water system develop issues, thus reducing the breakdown time to less than 24 hours.

These three levels of maintenance and support will provide a level of service from multiple stakeholders, each with a distinct and interlinking role.

Maintenance Cost



Gannt Chart will be used to track project activity progress.
Line item budgets are utilized to track project expenditures.
Monthly reports from partners discuss challenges and lessons-learned.




Well cost $13,000,
Mobilization for community and leaders $200,
WSSC workshop $200,
Train village helath team $250,
Train teachers on WASH $180,
Follow up training for VHT and teachers $200,
Film show $250,
School WASH promotion $300,
School VIP Latrines $9,200,
M&E $500,
Reporting $500,
Transportation $1,000,
Uganda office $1,500



No additional existing funding details are currently available.

Community Contribution


Local materials

Funds Requested



There are no files currently associated with this plan.


Measured success
I am familiar with this process of hygiene education through the Healthy Schools Peace Corps project in Guatemala. The children and teachers are required to reach a specific level of voluntary action such as washing hands without being prompted at an 85% observed activity. Do you have any such criteria in this project?

Are specific individuals given the responsibility for repairs and costs of maintaining the pump? What is the distance from the school to the source of repair parts for the pump? Are the parts in local hardware stores? Is the school or community required to have on hand at the school the most common parts for repairing the pumps or a fixed fund to buy the parts??
Posted by Lynn Roberts, Agua Para La Salud (APLS), on August 21, 2013 at 11:32pm
That is an interesting hand washing requirement, Lynn, which I have not seen implemented. What is the consequence to the children and teachers if they do not meet this level of voluntary action? Do you find observation to be an un-biased, accurate, and cost-effective way to measure hand washing? Lifewater does not have any such requirement, although we do measure impact and activity through regular monitoring whereby teachers report club activities and Lifewater's partner staff conduct follow-up visits at the schools. Final program evaluations at schools are compared with baseline school surveys to show change in hygiene behaviors and maintenance of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. These are conducted without notice to school faculty in order to provide more accurate results.

The Water Source and Sanitation Committees are responsible for collecting and keeping regular dues from community members so that when the well breaks down, the funds are available for repair. These committees are also responsible for contacting local repair technicians who have been trained by Lifewater and are part of a Ugandan government-organized society of hand pump repair technicians. The distance varies based on school location and what specific part(s) is needed for the repair. Local technicians are generally able to get the most common parts such as pipes in the community, while more serious repairs tend to require parts from bigger towns such as Lira town.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of how the program works and its sustainability. We are happy to explain further if anything remains unclear.
Posted by Julie Smith, Lifewater International, on August 23, 2013 at 12:33am Submitter Comment
Thanks for the comments on repairs. Do you have any information on how well the committees function when repairs are needed? Do they function without prompting by your representatives? Have you made any inspections after three years for example to note the condition of the school facilities?

The tracking of voluntary hygiene practices is done by the PC volunteer on the site in the Guatemalan Peace Corps Healthy project. The observations are done by the Peace Corps volunteer; Peace corps supervisors; and teachers. Having the PCV on site for up to 6 years paid for by the US government is most helpful as you can imagine. The school does not get a certification from the Ministry of education unless they meet these criteria. This is why some schools require 6 years and other just 2 years and some school do not get their certification, but the majority do manage. This is due in great part to the constant presence of the PCV. I understand that you and I do not have this funding base so are not able to be as diligent. Do you have any quantitative information 2 or 3 years after your intervention?
Posted by Lynn Roberts, Agua Para La Salud (APLS), on August 23, 2013 at 10:52pm
Lifewater recently completed a post-program evaluation in which we surveyed wells drilled between 2-4 years ago. Of the wells we drilled in schools during this time period, all are still functioning. Those which have had minor repairs needed contacted either a local technician or Lifewater's local partner, who remains in the region even after a program ends and anew one begins. I certainly see the benefit of having a peace corps volunteer on site for a long period of time, but Lifewater finds the presence of local partner staff to be a critical aspect to the sustainability of the program impact.
Posted by Julie Smith, Lifewater International, on August 30, 2013 at 9:53pm Submitter Comment
Positive change in education requires long term exposure to positive experiences to change habits. Would you outline how many times a month and for how many years the educators work with the teachers/students?
Is the WASH process ongoing through one generation of children grades 1-6?
Posted by Lynn Roberts, Agua Para La Salud (APLS), on September 8, 2013 at 3:15pm
Lynn, great question- indeed, long term exposure is one of the fundamental elements of successful behavior change and true community transformation. Lifewater's partner staff will be working with the teachers throughout the 2 year program through initial training as well as refresher/ experience sharing workshops, and follow-up visits in the teachers' classrooms. The teachers will be working with the students, generally, weekly or biweekly through the WASH Club meetings and activities. The WASH clubs include students of all ages in both primary and secondary schools.
Posted by Julie Smith, Lifewater International, on September 9, 2013 at 4:15pm Submitter Comment
Hello and thank you for the great work you are doing in Uganda through DWU. Does Lifewater have staff or offices there as well? If so, I'd love to connect in person with Lifewater and/or DWU during my 2 month stay in UG in between our projects Dec-Feb.
Since we have not yet done a latrine project, I'd like to ask you more about your WASH education? What materials do you use? The menstral pad training for girls seems interesting (and necessary I know)-what do you use for that? During our WASH trainings, we have used different approaches and we are currently looking for materials that make sense for Uganda.
In your budget, you have expenses for trainings, movies, etc- is this mostly for on the ground staff? printed materials? I'd love to learn about the details there.
Have you or DWU had any mishaps with the local governments?
How do you choose your next projects (who gets the water and why?)
How often do you get reports on the projects success and who sends them?
Thank you for all the good work you do in the world and for contributing as a member on PWX.

Posted by Erin Huber, Drink Local. Drink Tap., on September 11, 2013 at 6:54pm
Hi Erin,
We appreciate your encouragement and interest in the program and materials. Lifewater does not have an office in Uganda, but I will be visiting our partner in mid-late February, and would be happy to meet up with you if you are still there at that time. Please feel free to follow up with me at jsmith@lifewater.org.

Lifewater has produced its own WASH in Schools curriculum, which will soon be on our website and if you would like to see it sooner, let me know and I will send it to you. The curriculum is called “10 Building Blocks for Better Health” and goes through 10 lessons on critical WASH knowledge and behaviors. The menstrual pad training is facilitated based on curriculum from a few different organizations, including SNV which has a Re-Usable Menstrual Pad program in Uganda.

The budget costs for the trainings include materials, supplies, and some transportation and communication costs. Staffing costs are not included in this funding request.

DWU was initially founded as a result of frustration with government corruption in the water sector. The government now has an overarching plan for community development and coordinate the efforts of all organizations working in WASH, for example, to ensure proper distribution of aid. Lifewater and DWU work within the government’s plan by focusing programs in the region we have been assigned. Within this region, Lifewater and DWU use baseline surveys and follow-up monitoring to determine in which specific communities and schools wells will be drilled. This is based on a combination of most critical need and demonstration of high likelihood that the community will maintain and properly manage the water source.

Lifewater is in regular communication with DWU through weekly phone calls and frequent emails for progress updates. Based on Lifewater’s excellent history and track-record with DWU, we have recently shifted from monthly to quarterly reporting (from DWU to Lifewater). DWU receives reports from the community health workers and various community stakeholders much more frequently and visits the communities regularly to monitor program progress and success.

Thank you again for the interest.
Posted by Julie Smith, Lifewater International, on September 11, 2013 at 9:30pm Submitter Comment
Monitoring Criteria
Thank you for your detailed description of your implementation plan. It is clear that you have experience in implementing these projects. I'm also glad to see that your evaluations show that your wells are still functioning two to fours years later. What criteria are used to determine the community selection? What information is collected during your baseline survey?
Posted by Christine Roy, International Lifeline Fund, on September 17, 2013 at 6:24am
The Ugandan government determines which sub-counties different organizations work in, to help coordinate the various NGOs and make the process as effective as possible. WIthin the region, Lifewater determines which communities in which to work. Lifewater selects communities based on need as well as based on motivation to change. Lifewater generally determines motivation to change based on conversations with our local implementing partner who visits the communities and discusses their needs and resources with them. However, this program will be piloting a strategy whereby each community in need of a new safe water point will be required to reach a level of 80% household latrine coverage before Lifewater's partner will construct the well. This will be agreed to by communities in dialogue meetings together with the local government authorities. Local community leaders will lead the discussion meetings with their communities in order to mobilize and prepare the communities to reach the sanitation coverage target. Lifewater's local partner and Village Health Trainers (government-trained community members responsible for training communities in health and hygiene) will carry out a survey to confirm when a community has reached the target. Lifewater has found that communities with high motivation to maintain their health will protect and repair their water source effectively for years to come. However, communities in which wells are drilled without any effort on their part tend to let their water points fall into disrepair. Lifewater is hopeful that this strategy will increase sanitation as well as sustainable access to safe water. Local partner staff and health promoters will be operating in the communities, helping teach them how to construct latrines and promoting better understanding of the benefits of improved sanitation.

Lifewater does not yet have a standardized baseline survey which we apply to every program, however, this program's baseline survey will include general health information (rates of diarrhea in children under 5, top illnesses affecting the community and children under 5), specific WASH information (current water source, distance to water source, type of sanitation facility, number sharing sanitation facility, if a latrine is used- does it have a door? roof? cement or wooden slab? walls?, handwashing facilities, handwashing knowledge of critical times, self-reported handwashing practice) and general societal information (what does the community see as its greatest resources? greatest problems?). These are just a few of the questions asked in our baseline. Is that helpful?
Posted by Julie Smith, Lifewater International, on September 24, 2013 at 12:35am Submitter Comment


Working with schools and teachers in the field of hygiene education coupled with access to water has a multiplying effect as children grow up and have their own families. A consistent effort is a very good important in raising health standards of an entire population.
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The proposal and approach look good, as does the history of work with the partner.

The impact numbers would be more powerful if verified.

Will the baseline survey be conducted by LWI or DWU? Where will all the data be kept? It could be that LWI acts more are as funder in this case with the incentive on both parties to report only success.

The metrics tracked are definitely not in line with intended impact or based on what baseline data is captured and acted on.

Maybe we should think of DWU being a member of PWX and using the platform to track activities, results, ...

Would be nice if DWU records of how many breakdowns happen, how frequently, and how they were fixed were tracked. We could use information on the types of breakdowns that occur, their frequency, time to repair, spares needed, etc. This data is needed across the sector and nobody appears to keep track.
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Thank you for your detailed description of your implementation plan. It is clear that you have experience in implementing these projects. I'm also glad to see that your evaluations show that your wells are still functioning two to fours years later. What criteria are used to determine the community selection? What information is collected during your baseline survey?
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Lifewater and its’ implementing organization have an impressive track record (130,000 people with safe water and 70,000 with WASH training) and the project is definitely worthwhile. Yet there are specific elements to this proposal that I find questionable.
The location of the community and school has yet to be determined. Nevertheless, $9200 has been allocated for VIP construction.
The requirement to have 80% of households have proper sanitation and the factors considered in collecting baseline data from nominated schools would seem to make the selection process time consuming and difficult. It will be useful to determine how communities respond to the requirements. However, the information collected and the collaboration with the government throughout the implementation process should insure a successful project.
The metrics listed are not in line tell more about the construction process and little about the effectiveness of the project over time.
The cost of the project relative to the number of people served ($540 per person) seems high.
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Lack of tracking or monitoring data with pictures and other means on PWX.
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Lifewater's history of projects is a good indication that they have a realistic idea about the work that needs to be put into the project and have improved upon their methods. They have good community support and involvement and offer a lot of education. Cost seems high compared to the other projects in Uganda for the amount of people impacted.
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