Uganda’s Water Crisis (Jack Wilson)

Potholes in the roads and filthy, unfiltered air attacked my senses as I looked out my van window. It was truly hard to juggle the continuous up and down rattling of the van while being bombarded by the unusual smells in the Kampala air. After a grueling twenty-eight hours of travel capped off with a nine hour car ride, I had finally arrived in Bundibugio, Uganda to minister the Gospel and support my missionary friends in their work.

Throughout the week I encountered one particular problem – the price of alcohol. In Uganda alcohol is cheap, and water is pricey and unclean. Since alcohol was in some places cheaper than water, alcoholism is a growing problem. In fact, I went with a friend to talk to a regional authority, who was clearly inebriated, which exposed the problem even more. Alcohol itself is not a bad thing, but the lack of an efficient way to secure water is. Rain filters and somewhat effective piping run in the more populated areas of Uganda. But nine hours away from the capital city Bundibugio, there are very few rain filtering devices and thus a heavy dependence on rivers from the Rwenzori mountains. Since it is easier to ship alcohol and overpriced water through the country, there needs to be a solution to the lack of water engineering ideas in Uganda.

The easiest way to solve Uganda’s dual problem of alcholism and water scarcity is not through eliminating alcohol, but through sending more inventive minds along and hard working hands to produce more helpful devices. There is some wisdom to raising the price of alcohol, but in reality the country needs cleaner water as a whole. (It still amazes me how the people of Bundibugio can stomach the parasitic river water that flows from the mountains).

Recently, I encountered a new program at Mercer University that reaches out to other countries called Mercer on Mission. If Mercer on Mission were to go to Uganda and find a solution to this problem, the nation would see a wonderful increase in public opinion toward the government.

To provide more means for filtering, Mercer on Mission could send students to build clean and efficient rain storages and filtering devices. Such devices gather water effectively and store it through the dry seasons. They are used throughout the nation, not just Bundibugio.

In the end, my personal experience in Uganda creates a longing in me to solve the problems there that could be so easily fixed anywhere else on this earth.

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