Embracing Change In the Midst Of Adversity
Cecile is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo that is currently settled in Kyaka II refugee settlement. “My story is just like that of many of my fellow refugees I met here,” she says.
Fleeing from war
Cecile arrived in Uganda in February 2018 after fleeing the armed conflicts in the Rucuru zone, North Kivu. A mother of three, Cecile considers herself fortunate to have escaped with her whole family – her husband and 3 children. “We arrived here with my husband and my children
Cecile was settled in Mukondo village in Kyaka II refugee settlement where Oxfam is implementing a project whose basis is on water supply.
Rampant water challenges
One of the biggest challenges Cecile faced as a mother of 3 children under the age of 7 was traveling long distances to fetch water for her household chores. “I used to spend almost two hours standing in that line at the borehole before I could get water,” she says, adding, “and then, afterward start worrying about my journey back.”
Her trip back was a point of worry not only for her but for her family too. This is because most of the water points within Kyaka II settlement are not well lit and neither are the roads, so women would always worry about their safety during the trips to and from the water sources.
Today, that fear is a thing of the past since Oxfam constructed a 4stance tap stand near Cecile’s home. “The fact that it takes me less than 30 minutes to move to the water point and fetch water is a relief,” Cecile says. “Even now, I can stop worrying about the young girls I met at the water points and we had to walk back together. They can now fetch water and know that they can return home safely; even those children who will come later will benefit from having water points nearer to their homes.”
With funding from the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid, Oxfam is leading a consortium of partners including Engineers Without Borders – USA and AWYAD in implementing an integrated wash and protection response to Congolese refugees in Kyaka II refugee settlement.
“One of the aims of this project is to increase water supply and accessibility of water to the refugees and one of the ways of implementing this is by rolling out construction of water sources – tap stands within the communities,” Amon Aruho, Oxfam’s Public Health Engineering Team Leader in the Kyaka II refugee response.
Because of improved water access, Celine now has more time to concentrate on making her crafts which are her source of income. She is involved in a crafts making group with some women in her community where they make/weave products such as bags, and baskets that they sell at the market and earn an extra income.
Moving forward, Oxfam plans to install water ATMs, which is a mechanized monetary collecting system. When asked about her feelings and the community’s attitude towards having to pay for water, Cecile is optimistic about it. “I believe the community will adjust and pay if that’s what it takes to get water. This is because this is the nearest water point and no one wants to go back to walking the long distance to the borehole.”
The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) provides funding for projects run by its partners in the field to cover the needs of the most vulnerable. Through the work of Oxfam in Uganda, the commission supports the provision of safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene measures, which are essential for survival and prevention of diseases.