Household vulnerability to impacts of water stressors: A case of domestic water scarcity in Gulu Municipality.
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Studies on Household vulnerability to impacts of water stressors –“zeroing on Domestic water scarcity” have been extensively done in Uganda, but less so in Northern Uganda. This study contributes to the knowledge base of impacts of water stressors on Uganda’s water resources and the implications of these impacts on households in the country. The study specifically; (1) Examines the status (in quality and quantity) of the municipal water sources available to the communities, (2) Assesses the stress trend (in quality and quantity) of the municipal water sources, and (3) Examines the coping strategies to water scarcity within the municipality. Data was collected from randomly sampled 120 households and 40 water sources (based on high contamination risk scores) in dry and wet season using structured questionnaire, key informant interview guide, secondary document review, focused group discussions, standard water samples collection method (APHA, 1989) and water quality contamination risk questionnaire. Results on status of municipal sources showed that the frequently used sources were boreholes (27.8%), springs (19.6%), shallow wells (13.2%) and piped water system (21.2%); the per capita water consumption by households was significantly lower (p<0.05) than the WHO and UNBOS standard; and 55% of the 40 sampled water sources had fecal coliforms contamination which was significantly higher (p<0.05) than WHO and UNBOS standards, Pece division sources were significantly safer than the three other divisions. On stress trend, water quantity availability to households decreased greatly from 1980s to 2011, with great decrease registered from 440 liters/household/day in 1999 (35% household) to between 20 and 80 liters/household/day (25% of households) in 2011. Quality trend varied but depended on the years that climate extreme occurred; quality trend showed deterioration in the recent 15 years and Bar Dege and Laroo divisions were highly affected. Ninety nine water sources were lost to drought in Gulu in the past 30 years and with drought frequencies increasing from 1-2 in the 1960s up to 5-8 from 1980s-2011, with 8 droughts episodes registered in a 10 year period, temperature increase by 2.2oC in only 5 years was registered. Coping strategies ranged from choosing alternative protected water sources (43%), digging of wells (7%) to performing cultural rituals in extended dry spell (13%). Conclusively, the educated and rich adapted better than the uneducated and poor households and seasonality, anthropogenic factors and climate variations all had great impacts on water quality, most coping strategies were short termed. Communities should adopt long coping strategies. Key Words: Coping Strategies, Gulu, Water Scarcity, Water stressors, Vulnerability.
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