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Valley Tank Restores Hope Amid Droughts

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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In arid landscapes where water scarcity can be a recurring nightmare, drought, a phenomenon exacerbated by climate change, poses significant challenges to communities and regions where water is scarce. Lawrence Mulondo writes about the valley tanks that shine a beacon of hope.

Situated in the heart of the drought-prone area of Kiteny, a sub-county in Kitgum district, the sh380m Lakongera valley tank serves as a lifeline for communities grappling with water scarcity.

Blasio Lukoya, 78, a pastoralist in northern Uganda, relied on rivers to supply drinking water to his livestock.

Forty-four years ago, the rivers in the community started to become seasonal, particularly during periods of minimal rainfall, he says.

Lukoya said drought compels them to journey 18km daily to Orom Hills for water.

“We are frequently targeted by livestock raiders,” he added.

Due to fluctuations in water availability and the escalating climate change impacts on agricultural activities, residents of Kitgum district submitted a request to the water ministry for a viable solution.

Farming is the main source of livelihood for most Kiteny residents, with a significant portion engaged in cattle keeping.

Government moves to help

Eng. Eric Ocan, the manager of the Water for Production Regional Centre North, underscores the significance of such initiatives.

“The Lakongera valley tank exemplifies our commitment to implementing appropriate technologies for water harvesting. Through strategic planning and resource allocation, we aim to provide communities with a sustainable solution to water scarcity,” he said.

The system serves seven villages: Lakongera, Lalekan, Lukwatera, Luluko, Morulemu, Kwariyo and Ryamakiyo. It will last more than 50 years, Eng. Ocan said.

Sustainability

Residents have established a seven-member water user group, led by Walter Odera, to guarantee the system’s sustainability and ability to fulfil its intended purpose.

Odera said the purpose of registering houses using the system is to gather a certain sum of money for the facility’s security guard and system upkeep.

“In addition to keeping an eye out for vandals, the community must slash around the valley tank and desilt it whenever necessary,” he said.

Leaders speak out

Haji Marijan Walire, the deputy Kitgum resident district commissioner, expressed gratitude to the National Resistance Movement Government for restoring calm in the northern region, citing it as the primary driver of the region’s progress.

Walire urged community members to report any suspicious occurrences in their communities as soon as possible so that prompt action may be taken.

Margaret Lamwaka, the Member of Parliament for Chua East constituency, encouraged residents to do some vegetable farming to boost their income and nutrition.

Residents have their say

Ivan Tabu, 39, herder, Lakongera village: Cattle keeping is our inherited family activity. However, we watched it disappear slowly as we lost cattle during drought due to lack of water.

Helen Oyela, 44, Kiteny Parish: The valley tank makes it possible for us to get water and grow vegetables all year round.

Alfred Ocaya, 28, Lakongera village: As the youth, we are using the water for bricklaying. It helps us meet our family needs.

Sabina Akun, 70, Ariyama village: We now get water to do our domestic work like washing clothes and cleaning from the valley tank.

LEAD PHOTO CAPTION: A young pastoralist watering cows from troughs at the Lakongera valley tank in Kiteny, a sub-county of Kitgum district. Photo by Lawrence Mulondo

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