My new life as a kiosk operator

Because we could not afford to buy a jerry can, we had to resort to using the dirty pond for most of our household chores. We would struggle and buy one small 10-liter jerry can of clean water only for drinking. But with the new water project, I am healthier than I used to be and my children no longer suffer from diarrhea and stomachaches.

Fifty-year-old Ssemujju Ronald lives in Ttuyanye Kyebando, Uganda. He has been a brick maker for the last 10 years, which he said made him very tired, dirty, and with little time to reflect in his life. He and his wife would wake up at 4 am to do their work, making only 50,000 Ugandan schillings ($21.00 USD) per month.

When Water.org and its local partner, Voluntary Action for Development (VAD), introduced the pre-paid water kiosk* project to his village, Ronald’s community selected him to be the kiosk operator.

“It was like a dream in my life. I now had time to think about my future. My work is now in my home, and I no longer have go to the pond to fetch water as l had been doing because I could not afford to buy even a 20-liter jerry can of water from the nearby public tap yard, which cost 300 Ugandan shillings ($.13 USD). My family would use up to 100 liters a day. Because we could not afford to buy a jerry can, we resorted to using the dirty pond for most of our household chores. We would struggle and buy one small 10-liter jerry can of clean water only for drinking.

At times, this led to our children drinking dirty water, because the safe, clean water was scarce in our home. As a result, they would get stomachaches and diarrhea, which were very common. Now, with the availability of the prepaid water kiosk, a lot has changed.

I can now collect water within my compound, which is affordable to buy. Because it is cheap, we now use more water than we used before, and my children and wife can wash up two times a day, which was a nightmare before due to the cost of the water. As the kiosk operator, I also get an extra income for being the caretaker. I spend most of my time at my home doing other valuable work to support my family, and my life has reformed. I am healthier than I used to be, my children no longer suffer from diarrhea and stomachaches as they used to, and there is reduced household expenditures for buying drugs and going to the clinics to treat water-related sickness and disease.”

*A pre-paid water kiosk is a public water tap with a little house around it to protect the tap and store some supplies. In the last few years, the Uganda National Water and Sewerage Corporation has piloted pre-paid water kiosks as a way to streamline the cost of water in poor urban settlements. The pre-paid technology ensures that community members pay a lower cost per 20-liter container of water and that the cost is constant, no matter if a drought or illness outbreak occurs. Water.org is supporting this effort because an increased number of kiosks will allow people to have water closer to their homes and to save time by people not waiting in lines at other kiosks and water points. The kiosks will also allow sections of communities that have not had tap water in the past to now have tap water at a low cost.

Capital city: Kampala
Population of 35.9 million
9 million lack safe water
23.3 million have no sanitation services
Infant mortality rate of .3%
24.5% live in poverty

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