Fisherfolks taking lead to improve access to clean and safe water in Kammengo Sub-County in Mpigi District, Uganda
by Josephine Namatovu, Fisherfolk Community Liaison Specialist, Joy Initiatives, Uganda
Joy Initiatives Uganda (JOYI) is a Voice grantee partner organisation under the influencing grant category. JOYI is implementing a project titled “Doors will open for fisherfolk self-led youth” targeting rightsholder groups of fisherfolk youth, people living with disabilities and sex workers in Buwama and Kammengo Sub-counties in Mpigi District, Uganda. The project aims to strengthen fisherfolk participation in influencing Local Government decisions towards improved health, education and other social service delivery.
JOYI, since 2022, has worked with fishing communities who have often been excluded from development programs, which has resulted in perpetuity of poor living conditions. JOYI has been determined to change this narrative through empowering the fisherfolks to lead efforts of improving social services in their communities. In March 2022, JOYI trained a youthful team of “Fisherfolk Ambassadors” in community mobilisation, dialoguing, the role of rightsholders and duty bearers towards improving in social service delivery, the advocacy process, monitoring and reporting on social service delivery. The team embraced their call to participate in decision making in their communities and to seek accountability from Local Governments concerning social service delivery.
Fred Kateeto, a Fisherfolk Ambassador from Musa Parish in Kammengo, is one of the successful ones in making safe water accessible in his community. Through dialogues with rightsholders, monitoring and reporting on social service delivery, Kateeto steered change to make safe water accessible in his community.
”As a Fisherfolk representative, I took note of the rallying call by the fisherfolks, to have access to safe water in our area. Regardless of the differences amidst us; female or male, elderly or young, living with or without disability, educated or not educated, the need was sufficient to drive a collective agenda,” Fred Kateeto narrated in one of the Ambassadors’ mentorship engagements with the JOYI Team.
On 12th May 2022, Fred led a dialogue session among residents of Luubu Village in Musa Parish, Kammengo. Among the fronted issues was the gap of inaccessibility to safe water at Buvumbo landing site, using a consensual rather than a confrontation approach. The three boreholes earlier constructed by the government to serve the bordering villages including Ssama, Mukajja and Buvumbo in Musa Parish were dysfunctional and for three years, so residents fetched water from the un-protected ponds.
Fred approached Paul Kato, the Area Councilor for Ssama, who also served as Vice Chairperson LC.V at Kammengo Sub county, to relay the concern to the other Sub-county authorities. Together with the Local council leader, residents agreed to forward their petition to the Senior Assistant Secretary (SAS) of Kammengo Sub- County in May 2022. But for a couple of months, he hardly provided a solution, citing a lack of budget for borehole rehabilitation.
Fred however, did not give up and in November 2022, he again approached the Area Councilor for a solution.
“The advocacy letter to the sub-county was not the peak. Although it was an influential effort, it had not yielded a result. I therefore continued to follow up with the Area Councillor Paul Kato, in pursuit for the service delivery improvement”, Fred shared in his story.
Fred’s second attempt finally awakened the Area Councilor to take up the responsibility to serve as a duty bearer. The Area Councilor, being aware that there was no solution at the sub-county at the moment, lobbied to Busoga Trust – a civil society organisation which rehabilitated three boreholes at Mukajja Village, Ssama Primary School and in Buvumbo. The communities currently enjoy access to safe water.
JOYI’s effort with support from Voice has made the impossible, possible. Not only were rightsholders awakened to the role of participating in local government decision-making, they are also enjoying clean and safe water in their communities.