Assessment of water and sanitation provision to Internally Displaced Persons’ of Lira urban camps.
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Approximately over 2 billion IDPs now live in urban areas, and the great majority of these are in Africa, Asia and some Latin American states. Thousands of them suffer illness from preventable diseases related to poor water and sanitation provision. In Uganda, over 80percent of displaced persons who are living in more than 200 camps of Northern Uganda (Lira urban camps inclusive), three out of fifteen have no access to safe drinking water and only one in ten are believed to be accessing good sanitary facilities. This work presents information on the state of water and sanitation provision to IDPs in Lira urban camps. It cover areas of major water sources being used by IDPs in those camps, coverage of sanitation facilities and their impacts on IDPs’ health. A cross-sectional study design was used and data collection techniques like questionnaire, interview schedule and direct observation were all used to gather the required data. The result of the study showed that, IDPs were using water from taps (44percent), boreholes and unprotected wells (19percent) each, and protected wells (12percent). The main uses of water were for drinking (52.9percent), washing (25.4percent), cooking (10.6percent), bathing (3.0percent) and others (8.1percent). Tap water was the most accessible source of water and it was the nearest, at about 20 metres away from camp households. However, its quality was observed not safe for IDP consumption as it had 12CFU/1000ml of E.coli level (categorized by WHO standard-2004 as polluted). Most IDPs were not boiling this water before consumption. The study also established that, 58.2percent of IDPs were using Eco-san latrines, 28.4percent pit latrines and 13.4percent (children) dug holes respectively. Further, 40percent of children’s faecal matters were disposed off in polythene bags by their mothers or caretakers at the backyard of the camp households. The latrines especially Eco-san were not maintained and were very dirty, bushy and full, with the floors and entrance having lots of faeces, rubbish, flies and rodents. It was corroborated that inadequate water and sanitation among IDPs of Lira urban camps contributed to persistent increase in the spread of diseases like diarrhoea, malaria, cholera, skin and eye infections, and other intestinal infections. Diarrhoea, malaria and cholera were the most commonly reported with diarrhoea accounting for 29.3percent, malaria, 27.9percent, and cholera 20.4percent. Although it is generally accepted that, improvements in portability, availability, quality of water and provision of good sanitation facilities can give good control of diseases amongst IDPs. This study recommends that, all humanitarian agencies (National and International) operating in these camps should focus their attentions on the quality of water and sanitation facilities other than the quantity. This will help to combat the major health concerns of IDPs arising from poor water and sanitation provision. The above should go hand-in-hand with financial and managerial support from Government, National and International NGOs plus other local authority and well wishers participating in the provision of water and sanitation facilities to IDPs of Lira urban camps. They should also go hand-in-hand with education and awareness programmes for camp communities for effective redress of diseases outbreak associated with poor water and sanitation provision to IDP community in the camps.