Before arrival in Kubughabugha, we thought we would be providing a service with a community to help them gain access to clean drinking water. When we left, we had developed personal relationships that will exist as life long friendships and produced professional partnerships that will sustain the project into the future. The people of Kabughabugha survive with the absolute least, but have some of the most pure and kind souls. They expressed their gratitude often and welcomed us with dancing and music. The community is so invested in the project that they are supportive even if the route of the ultimate water pipeline must be dug through their farms and plan to demonstrate their commitment through in-kind donations, such as digging the route of the pipeline.
The living conditions were shocking. While we were expecting to see villagers living in hardship conditions, nothing can prepare you to witness extreme poverty. Most villagers lived in mud huts and survived by subsistence farming at under $1 USD per day. The children were clothed in essentially rags, with torn and dirty garments. Many had just a single shirt or clothing item. Sanitation and hygiene best practices do not occur in the village, as they do not have wash houses or toilets. To obtain water for drinking, cooking and washing, women and children must walk up to five kilometers multiple times a day to the water source, which was untreated. This journey is through the Rwenzori mountains, rugged, steep and challenging terrain, and the villagers do this barefoot or in flip flops. The water buckets were left around the ground, thus leaving them covered in mud and other matter.
The end goal of the project is to ensure the village of Kabughabugha access to safe water and sanitation. Through the engineering of a water system and the education of best sanitation and hygiene practices, we believe the lives of the locals can be transformed. Clean water truly is the foundation for health, sustainable economies and equality. By improving the water quality and accessibility in Kabughabugha, the standard of living can increase significantly. Women and children can begin to have more time to pursue an education. Villagers can begin to pursue economic endeavors and further develop. Essentially, until the water issue is addressed, all others cannot be, as it is the basic necessity of life.