Uganda's water and sanitation crisis

Out of its population of 47 million people, 38 million people (81% of the population) lack access to safe water. 35.1 million people (81%) in Uganda don’t have access to adequate sanitation. Uganda has experienced two decades of economic growth, leading to large population movements from rural areas to informal settlements around urban centers.

Why Kapelebyong in the North Eastern region?

Kapelebyong district is one of the most marginalised within Uganda – which is itself classified as a low-income country ranking 159/189 on the UNDP’s Human Development Index 2020 with the number of people living in poverty increasing from 2.4 million in 2013 to more than 4.2 million in 2017 (Uganda National Household Survey 2017). People in the project target sub-district of Teso are four times more likely to be poor than the national average, with 72.2% classified as poor and an additional 16.4% economically insecure (Uganda National Household Survey 2017). This region is significantly affected by food insecurity with most households consuming only one meal per day: a situation worsened by a lack of rain and Covid-19 and the government lockdowns which impacted agricultural production and forced many households to consume their seed-crop & sell productive assets. We want to use this project to help build back more resilient & sustainable households.

The access rates in Kapelebyong vary from 91 % in Akoromit Sub-County to 95 % in Acowa Sub-County. Kapelebyong has 402 domestic water points which serve a total of 109,760 people – 109,760 in rural areas. 11 water points have been non-functional for over 5 years and are considered abandoned.

VAD’s Major Aim:

The principle aim of VAD is to improve the lives of poor and disadvantaged communities in Uganda. They primarily target the most vulnerable groups in central and NE Uganda including children/youth, women, people with a disability, people living with HIV/AIDS, and the elderly, empowering and facilitating them to effectively participate in their own socioeconomic development. To ensure effectiveness, ownership & sustainability of the programmes, community participation in the planning, management, implementation and monitoring of programmes is encouraged. VAD values, respects, and is accountable to the communities it serves, which has led to international recognition as a transparent, efficient, and effective organisation.


The Goal

Improved health and increased household food security, income and education of 10,000 rural Ugandan communities by 2025.

Strategic objectives

This goal will be achieved through four strategic objectives including;

  • Improved health of 100,000 of communities and improved management menstrual hygiene for 1,000 adolescent girls by December 2025.
  • Improved livelihood and food security of 1,000 small-holder farmer households by December 2025.
  • Improved school academic performance and retention of 10,000 children between the ages of 6-15 years by 2025
  • Increased life skills of 200 youths between the ages of 18-30 by December 2025

1. Health Promotion (WASH and MHM)

This shall focus mainly on increasing accessibility to clean safe water, hygiene and sanitation in primary schools, Local Health Centres and the general community without access. The main goal of VAD‘s WASH interventions is to contribute to improved livelihoods through increased access to water and sanitation services. To-date, VAD’s interventions in WASH have benefited over  508,400 people. Key activities are:

  • Water and Sanitation facilities/systems such mini-solar powered water systems, deep boreholes, rehabilitated boreholes, shallow wells, water tanks, incinerators, hand washing tanks, boreholes, were constructed
  • Capacity building of the established community based structures to sustain the projects
  • Community hygiene and sanitation sensitization
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management for both trainings and provision of reusable sanitary pads to the adolescent girls
  • Worked with the local Health Centres In charges who have sold reusable pads and soap making and generated income
  • Work with the Association of Hand Pump Mechanics who have carried periodic repairs and servicing
  • Introduced the component of Income Generating Loans which was extended to the water user committees to boost the incomes of the women especially and also save for the water source maintenance.
  • IECs development for easy information dissemination
  • Partnerships
  • Documentation
  • Research

WASH improvement in the targeted communities shall consequently leads to improved general health conditions, improved educations among the children, economic empowerment as this will encompasses reduced financial expenditure and a change in reduced burden for women and girls who carry the major role to search for clean water for domestic use.

The main approaches employed by VAD WASH include Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in rural, Participatory Hygiene and Sanitation Transformation (PHAST), Sanitation marketing, collaboration and networking and lobbying and advocacy.


  • 55% increase in the number of households with access to clean and safe water supply systems
  • 55% of reduction in diseases associated with poor sanitation and unsafe water
  • 45% increase in number of communities practicing hygiene and sanitation good practices
  • 40% increase in number of effective community based structures with functional WASH facilities
  • 35% increase in number of adolescent girls who are confident and attend school regularly.
  • 10% in number of innovations adopted for sanitation promotion.


  • Over 75% of small holder farmers are food secure and afford to eat three meals a day
  • Over 80% farmers adopted to best agronomic practices and have improved on production
  • Increased income levels among the farmers at least earning above 100dollars
  • 20% increase in households practicing post harvesting measures
  • 65% of improved production of diversified household food crops which has addressed food insecurity
  • 35% increase in number of households using SMART climate technologies

2. Livelihood and food security.

VAD works with schools and communities to promote sustainable household food security and income security through awareness creation, support services, trainings and adoption of new affordable technologies to mitigate climate change. Our Agriculture project seeks to improve food & nutrition security for small holders farmers (approximately 10,000 people) in Kapelebyong District, NE Uganda. This is realised through a comprehensive training and capacity building programme for women and youth, ensuring people with disabilities (PWDs) are included. The smallholder farmers are organised into agricultural support groups of 25 members each into which are provided key agricultural inputs to boost production and reduce post-harvest losses. Additionally, group members are able to access credit through micro-loans to enable enterprise growth and development. A comprehensive training programme has increased members’ capacity in areas such as enterprise management and group formation, improved agricultural practices, and food & nutrition.

Key activities are:

  • Farmer groups receiving agricultural inputs, oxen and other assorted materials for increased production and food security in Kapelebyong district
  • VAD focused on food production for improved nutrition; improving the natural resource base; improving household income through agricultural enterprise, diversification of sources of revenues.
  • Nearly 500 farmers organized in groups of 25 members each and their capacity were built in groups
  • Farmers trained in group dynamics, business enterprises and improved agronomic practices for increased production as well as initiation of VSLA schemes to mobilize capital for development and supporting business enterprises to improve household incomes, increase agricultural production through accessing quality agro- inputs to mention.
  • Farmers (youths and women) trained in post-harvest handling techniques, farmers trained in advocacy to further demand for more better services
  • Trainings incorporated with Climate Change resilient and mitigation

3. Education Promotion

This Thematic area aims at improving school academic performance and retention of children between the ages of 6-15 years especially the girl child.  In schools, VAD support schools with both physical and learning infrastructure such as classroom blocks, teacher houses, school feeding, chairs and books and instructional materials to most underprivileged communities, schools and children across the target areas which has consequently increased enrollment to 75% in Kapelebyong. VAD also support the girl child to stay in school through the provision of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) services such as changing rooms, washrooms, MHM sanitary pads and services. Schools will also be supported with water and sanitation facilities where separate stances for both girls and boys will be built.

Programme objectives:

  • Improve access to education for both girls and boys leading to increased school retention
  • Improve the learning environment for children especially the girl child
  • Increase literacy levels for both girls and boys for future security


  • Over 75% of the girls have completed primary section and qualified to secondary level
  • Over 80% pupils attend school regularly
  • 35% increase in girl child school retention and attendance
  • Reduced reported cases of early marriages at Kapelebyong District


  • VAD has supported 100 youths gain hands on and life skills with a long term goal of creating employment to the youths.
  • VAD has constructed Vocational learning centres and equipped with machines and equipments used during tutoring of the learning. The skills include; tailoring, carpentry, joinery and building.
  • VAD has made follow ups on the 100 graduated girls who have progressively developed, girls have hired where to sew clothes for sale, have purchased their own machines using the revolving loan obtained.
  • 20% of youths and women are undertaking gainful business/projects
  • 20% of youths and women with increased incomes, and self employed

4. Life Skills/Vocational skills Development

The program aims to reduce gender disparities in informal education for girls, youth, young women and women who are out of school in vulnerable situations.

VAD support the youths, girls, young women gain hands on skills and life skills development which in a long run creates employments. With support from our partners, VAD has constructed Vocational learning centres and equipped them with machines and equipments used during tutoring of the learners. VAD has hired instructors/trainers who have fully trained the learners for at least the first 12 months. VAD shall ensure hand over of the Vocational to the District while VAD shall undertake periodic monitoring visits to check on the performance. VAD has also followed up on the graduated girls and boys to ascertain whether they are employed and improvement in their lives. VAD has offered the following areas of skilling to the young girls and boys including: Sewing/Tailoring, Hair dressing, weaving section, carpentry and joinery section, building and concrete practice. In a long run, VAD is contributing towards addressing the challenge of unemployment among the youths since youths constitute 77% (being under 25 years) of Uganda’s population.

Program objectives:

  1. Increase vocational and life skills for women, youth and vulnerable children
  2. Increase accessibility to job creation
  3. Reduce on human rights violation through girls being empowered
  4. Increase income earnings for better well being.