In June 2012, RainCatcher had the opportunity to provide clean water to a community of 7,000 people near Mbarara, Uganda who had undergone a frightening experience…

Itendero Senior Secondary School

Sign leading up to the Itendero Senior Secondary School where the children drank from the poisoned water hole

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The elders that told us the story of the landowner that poisoned the communities water source and the children that suffered

Five years prior to RainCatcher’s visit, there was an incident involving children fetching water from a local watering hole. It was located on a private plot of land where the children would cross a field to collect water for themselves and their families. The closest alternative for these children was an inconsistent source, and when available the water could be contaminated. Otherwise the children had to make a three-kilometer trip to a well that was sometimes shared with animals, and then carry large containers of water back to their village.

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Measuring up the school for a rainwater harvesting tank. The field behind the school is where the poisoned water hole is located.

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Where the poisoned water hole is in the back fields

The landowner was unhappy with what was going on. She did not want children running across her field, so she put up a barbed wire fence around the watering hole. This did not stop the children from coming; they easily slipped under the barbed wire and continued to collect water for their families, avoiding the trek to other unpredictable water sources. One night the landowner turned to desperate measures and poisoned her own watering hole. She would rather not be able to use the water herself than have these children trespass on her land. The next day, eleven children went to collect water as usual, and drank some from the poisoned source. Upon returning to their village, they suddenly became very ill. Thankfully the school headmaster saw the children and, deducing what had happened, acted quickly enough that there were no deaths resulting from the poisoned water. Having narrowly escaped tragedy, the people of this village recognized that they needed a source of clean water, especially for the sake of their children.

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The poisoned water hole

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The poisoned water hole

With their new RainCatcher rainwater-harvesting system, the 320 children attending Itendero Senior Secondary School have a sustainable source of clean, safe drinking water in their own village. They no longer have to take risks traveling or trespassing to access a potentially hazardous water source. Instead, they can collect water from the system built onto their school building, knowing that it will cause no harm to them or their families. They are free to attend school as they should, instead of missing class to fetch water or recover from water-related illnesses.

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The newly installed rainwater harvesting system at the Itendero School

RainCatcher has been able to provide clean water to Itendero School, and many others like it, using the ancient technique of rainwater harvesting coupled with advanced filtration. This method has the lowest cost per person when compared to other types of water projects, and is more sustainable. Just one inch of rainfall on a 1,000 square-foot roof provides 625 gallons of safe drinking water. Mbarara, Uganda receives 34.3 inches of rain and 166 days of rainfall each year, making it the perfect environment for rainwater harvesting. RainCatcher regularly travels throughout Uganda and Kenya, searching for places like Mbarara to receive rainwater-harvesting systems. Thanks to our generous donors and supporters, we are able to give water, life, and love to the people in Africa who need it. As we continue to grow, we hope to greatly diminish the number of people in the world without access to clean water. Please join us in our mission.

Written by Danielle John