Matters of Water in Uganda - Exhibition

Ugandan fisherman on Lake Victoria - Jjumba Martin for AFD
The Complexity of Water in Uganda
This past summer, in celebrating 20 years of AFD Group's commitments in Uganda, the red brick walls surrounding the French Embassy in Kampala were decorated with 12 photographs. The giant portraits highlighted the work of three talented Ugandan photographers and their reflections on the question of access to water.

Water is vital, and yet it can easily slip through our hands.  In summer 2019, three Ugandan photographers took aim at three emblematic water programs financed by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) in and around the Ugandan capital.

Their photos focus on access to water in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods, in rural areas, and at a laboratory that analyzes the waters of Lake Victoria.

Multiple winner of the Uganda Press Photo Award, Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar focused on a farming family that lives off its production of milk and plantain. They are waiting impatiently for the creation of a reservoir in the Mbarara region, west of Kampala, to deal with chronic droughts. 

Esther Ruth Mbabazi is a photojournalist and a member of the National Geographic Explorer program. She took her camera to Najjanankumbi, in northern Kampala.

Whether it be at the medical clinic or the school, everyone there needs constant supply of clean water. The National Water and Sewerage Corporation is meeting that need.

The talented photographer and documentary maker Jjumba Martin was able to accompany teams from the National Fisheries Resources Research Institute in their routine testing of lake water around the village of Ripon, to verify its quality and to analyze the presence and evolution of blue-green algae. These notorious cyanobacteria invade the region regularly.

A girl looks at Lake Victoria - Jjumba Martin for AFD
Jane Mwasigwa in front of her Matoke farm in Mbarara - Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar for AFD
Jane Mwasigwa's Farm Survives the Drought
Jane and her family make a living from a matoke (plantain) plantation in the Kiruhura corridor. This region in rural western Uganda receives less rain than the rest of the country, making its farmers vulnerable to recurrent droughts. With support from AFD, the government has set up a drought mitigation plan that makes use of a series of strategically located reservoirs.
Kaijustsya Robert in front of the future water reservoir - Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar for AFD
Robert Kaijustsya: His Herd is Waiting for Water
The Kiruhura corridor is a traditional cattle-raising area in Uganda. Like Jane, Robert is waiting impatiently for the reservoir, to water his cows.

Ultimately, it’s the development of local agricultural holdings that’s at stake, as better access to water for cattle will improve dairy production. This is likely to lead to higher incomes, rising food security and a higher standard of living, even in the face of climate change.
A worker in a medical centre - Esther Ruth Mbabazi for AFD
Irene Sees Big Improvements in Water Provision
Irene works at a medical clinic in the low-income neighborhood of Najjanankumbi, in Kampala. But not long ago her job would have been difficult and at times, impossible.

At the end of the 1990s, some informal neighborhoods of Kampala were still rife with cholera. Incidence of this waterborne disease reflected the lack of basic sanitary facilities (toilets and showers) and of safe sources of water.

With support from AFD funding, Kampala City Council has since raised awareness among communities and landowners of meeting the demand for water and sanitation services. Some 20 kilometers of new networks have since been installed.

Now, her job cleaning sheets and towels is made possible with access to running water in the hospital’s courtyard.
Mugabi Zadochi, chef in a school - Esther Ruth Mbabazi for AFD
Mugabi Zadochi: One Less Worry
At the school in the Najjanankumbi neighborhood, Mugabi prepares ugali (a dish made from cornmeal) for the students’ meal. He needs water to cook – and now he knows where it comes from: the municipal drinking water supply.

Between 2001 and 2006, targeted disadvantaged neighborhoods of Kampala were equipped with more than 1,000 public toilets and 350 water fountains. Tanks of drinking water were also delivered to 34 schools.
Dr William Okello in its lake water sampling routine - Jjumba Martin for AFD
William Okello Monitors Potentially Dangerous Bacteria in Lake Victoria
Dr. William Okello visits Lake Victoria regularly to take water samples. The lake’s ecosystem provides an income for many people in the region, but it is also subject to multiple pollutants. Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, has multiplied.
Now, they’re being more closely monitored.

Lake Victoria benefits from Water Sources in Africa (WaSAF), an international program operating in three African countries, which provides the surveillance and protection of surface freshwater sources. In Uganda, the program is implemented by a consortium of research teams from France and Uganda (Makerere University and National Fisheries Resources Research Institute).
A view of the exhibition
AFD's Long-Term Commitment to Water in Uganda

Population growth presents a challenge for public services in Uganda. That’s why AFD has been supporting investment in the water and sanitation sectors for 20 years.

For example, AFD Group has financed the production and supply of drinking water in the south-central rural areas, Kampala, and other cities (Jinja, Mbarara, and Masaka). AFD also supports the construction of wastewater treatment and drinking-water supply infrastructure in informal neighborhoods and it works on expanding services to the local population.

AFD action in Uganda, in a nutshell:

  • 39 projects funded
  • € 1 billion committed
  • 500,000 new beneficiaries have access to water in Kampala