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Providing a Precious Resource for Ugandans

Providing a precious resource:  Clean water

March 2014

One of the most common sights in rural Uganda is a child walking along the road carrying a jerry can of water, or an adult on a bicycle, carefully balancing several containers to take home. Most likely, they have traveled several kilometers for just a small amount of clean water. This familiar image is a reminder of how this most basic resource is still difficult to come by for many people in the world. 

One of the major goals of Iowa State's Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods has been to address this critical need. Through its presence in Kamuli District, Uganda, the center has improved the quality of life for thousands of Ugandans, while providing service learning opportunities for Iowa State students who wish to become future change agents in our global community.  With an overall mission to combat global hunger, malnutrition and poverty in the developing world, providing a source of clean, safe water in rural communities is a critical component of this work. 

In 2013, the 13th and 14th boreholes were drilled in Kamuli District, Uganda - one in Bugogolo Parish and another near Bukyonza Primary School. When the wellhead pumps, drainage systems, cisterns and fencing were completed, community members came out to share their excitement and appreciation, particularly the local water management committees, who take seriously their responsibility to manage and maintain the wells. A major improvement was adding cisterns to these and all our other established boreholes in the district to collect the overflow water; instead of becoming a breeding place for mosquitoes, this water can now be used to irrigate gardens, water livestock, make bricks, and support other important tasks. 

As CSRL anticipates celebrating its tenth year, I am pleased to say that more than 5,000 households and 2,800 students at nine elementary schools now benefit from the boreholes created through the work of the center. These boreholes provide clean water for consumption, sanitation, hygiene and irrigation, which has decreased incidents of waterborne diseases among children from 70 percent to 35 percent. Most importantly, through our consistent presence in the community, we have established relationships of trust and friendship that create goodwill and effective partnerships with local leaders and institutions. 

As with many projects that fulfill such a profound need in the world, the commitment of the supporters and friends of CSRL plays a vital role in this success. I can assure you we will continue to invest this generous support wisely as we pursue this important work. Thank you for your interest in and dedication to CSRL. Together, we can continue to make an important difference for the people of rural Uganda. 


Mark Westgate
Director, Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods
Professor of Agronomy
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Iowa State University

P.S. If you would like to make a gift to the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, please contact Sarah Roelfs at 515.294.1031 or