Meet Atim Margaret: Water User Committee member, promoting community ownership and management of Odur village borehole

Atim Margret, Finance Secretary, Odur Village Water Users’ Committee, Amuru District, Uganda

Atim Margret, 58 years old, has lived in Odur village since 1978. This gives her the audacity to talk about how having a functional water source in Odur village transforms lives for all village residents.

“The first borehole in the village was constructed in 2009, but it faced frequent break downs until it reached a time when we could not have enough money to repair it.   When the borehole breaks down our only water source is an unprotected spring well down the swamp. Water from the well is never safe for human consumption because livestock also come and drink from there, during dry seasons the water sources usually dries up.” Atim shares. 

The change

All this has however changed, thanks to Amref for rehabilitating Pamin Abilo B borehole located in Odur village. Atim like all other village residents are over the moon because safe water is nearby, with in their village.

“I’m glad that Amref recently repaired our village borehole, safe water is now a stone throw away from my home. I no longer shoulder the burden of going very far in the swamp to collect water which in most cases is dirty, not safe for human consumption.” Said Atim.

To keep their water source functional, the residents of Odur village set a community Water Users Committee of nine members and five of them are women.  The Water Users’ Committee has the role of calling for village meetings to discuss solutions to problems that affect the functionality of the village borehole.

“As water users, we have come up with bye-laws to streamline access and use of water from our village source.  We have agreed that each of the 70-household fetching water from the source contributes 500 UGX monthly towards the operation and maintenance fund of the borehole. Whoever pays their user fee, their names are recorded in a book and money kept. Those who fail to pay their monthly contribution they are fined 2500 UGX.” explains Atim.  

Atim is the finance secretary of the water users’ committee, and she is responsible for keeping the user fee collected and only release the money to repair or service the borehole.

Community bye-laws

The Pamin Abilo B Water Users’ Committee enacted a couple of bye-laws as a measure for proper management of the water source. Among these bye-laws include anyone entering the borehole apron with shoe is fined 5000 shillings. The logic behind this, is to keep the borehole clean. In addition, anyone found removing the logs that make the fence of the water source is fined 20,000 shillings, any one bathing at the borehole is also fined 5000 shillings. If any child is found playing around the fence that child is reprimanded, and every 18th of a month is a community clean-up day of the water source. The community members are working together to keep their water source functional.