By Bashiba Masinde, Peter Nuwagaba, and Rinah Masinde
More than 270 students from Kyanja View Nursery and Primary School, as well as thousands of residents from Walufumbe Zone, Kyanja Parish, Nakawa Division, Kampala district, rely on groundwater for domestic use.
Mrs. Rhoda Kiggundu, 37, has been the headteacher of Kyanja View Community School for 12 years. She says that the school has been reliant on this natural spring since its inception. She goes on to say that it has benefited not only the school, but also the surrounding communities.
Naddamba Josephine, 25, has been cultivating around the natural spring for three years, after moving from Kasanda in Mubende District to Walufumbe Zone, Kyanja Parish, Nakawa Division, Kampala district. She says that the soil around the natural spring is suitable for subsistence farming.
“Because of the presence of groundwater beneath, the soil is well moisturised,” says the 25-year-old.
According to Naddamba, the natural spring has aided not only in cultivation but also in domestic use. “This natural spring water has been helpful in so many ways, such as cooking, washing, and bathing.”
Mrs. Rhoda Kiggundu, the headmistress of Kyanja View Nursery and Primary School, also mentions how the natural spring has improved the livelihoods of their staff and students.
According to the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), groundwater is used by 70% of the rural population in the Nile Basin region, and it is one of the most important sources of drinking water for people, livestock, and wildlife in the Nile basin, with over 100 million people relying on it.
In this podcast, Peter Nuwagaba interviews Prof. Kenneth Balikoowa, a lecturer at Makerere University’s Department of Environmental Management. He holds a PhD in Biodiversity, Hydrology, and Climate Change. They talk about various aspects of groundwater, including how it relates to biodiversity and humanity.
According to Prof. Kenneth Balikoowa, in order to sustain and retain groundwater such as natural springs, we must maintain the recharge capacity of groundwater that is recharged and protected in ecosystems such as forested and vegetative landscapes.
He emphasizes the effects of human activities on the interaction of groundwater and surface water, adding that human activities also disrupt the distribution, quantity, and quality of water.
According to the lecturer at Makerere University’s Department of Environmental Management, we can protect groundwater by improving our solid waste management practices. “This is why it is in the best interests of the Nile basin to invest and improve our waste management practices in order to avoid contaminating these groundwater sources.” Says Prof. Kenneth Balikoowa.
Mrs. Rhoda Kiggundu, the headteacher of Kyanja View Community School, emphasizes how the natural spring has been of great relief during the dry season and when tap water is scarce for both the school and the community. She tells us how they maintain it and protect it from surface contamination to ensure its long-term survival.
Mrs Kamoga Grace, 50, is the chairperson of Walufumbe Zone, Kyanja Parish, Nakawa Division, Kampala District. She has lived in this community for the past 30 years, witnessing its transformation from a rural to a more developed area. She says that this natural spring has been there since the beginning of time.
In our interview with the chairperson, we ask if the community’s leadership has made any plans to improve the natural spring. She says that they have heard the community’s call to develop the water source, and that while government processes are slow, they are hopeful that it will be developed soon. She appeals to well-wishers and anyone who can help to improve this water source.
According to the State of the Climate in Africa 2021 report, high water stress is expected to affect approximately 250 million people in Africa and to displace up to 700 million people by 2030, with four out of five African countries unlikely to have sustainably managed water resources by 2030.
With Uganda’s population growing at a 3.37% annual rate since 2019, so does the demand for water. As a result, it is critical that we preserve, protect, and maintain groundwater sources such as the one in the Walufumbe Zone.
This story was produced as part of the InfoNile Science Communication Competition- 2022.