A story of community empowerment for the new year

In Kanayaranyara village in western Uganda, 350 people began the year without a trustworthy, inexpensive way to save and take out loans.

What does this have to do with clean water?

The year before, the village’s well broke and they couldn’t come up with the funds they needed to repair it. We fixed the well for them, but we also formed a “self-help group” to help avoid repeating this problem.

The group’s 30 members were provided with financial training and legally registered as a savings and credit cooperative. They met each week, contributed savings, took out loans, and maintained a reserve fund for well maintenance and repairs.

This was a new approach to an age-old problem: how to ensure wells don’t end up broken and abandoned in poor, rural communities.

A year later, the results are striking. The self-help group accumulated $3,300 from savings and interest payments. The group paid for preventative maintenance each quarter to minimize future repairs and it continues to maintain a reserve fund of $85 in the event it does break.

But the impact doesn’t stop there. The average member borrowed more than $300 from the group fund over the course of the year. These short-term loans were primarily for business investment, but also included medical emergencies and children’s education.

This month the Kanayaranyara group closed its annual cycle (before restarting the savings process in January.) The average group member received a payout of $110 – a lot of money in rural Uganda. The majority are investing their payouts in agriculture, children’s education, and, yes, presents for loved ones.

In Kanayaranyara village, we find that the secret to sustainable water is an empowered community. At the same time, the impact of an empowered community extends far beyond water – to greater resilience to unexpected medical emergencies, to children staying in school, and to increased investment in livelihoods that promise a brighter future.

With your help, in 2018 we will bring both clean water and empowerment to tens of thousands more people in rural Uganda.

On behalf of The Water Trust, thank you for empowering our team to make this change possible, and our best wishes to you and your family this holiday season.

Warmly,

Chris Prottas
Executive Director

 

PS – Feel inspired? Help tens of thousands more people in 2018 enjoy the benefits of clean, sustainable water and an empowered community – donate today.