ESCRS is providing public health information to communities in need, through partnership

The ESCRS has helped to prevent the spread of diseases such as cholera and trachoma in the Kitgum and Lamwo districts of Uganda by developing new sustainable water supplies and empowering communities to manage these resources through training schemes and public health initiatives. Oxfam Ireland's chief executive Jim Clarken said: "The generosity of ESCRS members and the ESCRS Board has delivered real change to the communities of Kitgum and Lamwo. By supporting Oxfam and our partners in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion (WASH) project, ESCRS has provided effective and sustainable water sources as part of a major investment in public health. On behalf of the individuals and communities of Kitgum and Lamwo, we are sincerely grateful for your continued support of Oxfam."

Thanks to ESCRS, Oxfam and its WASH partners can help a community rebuild itself as families return following a 20-year conflict between rebels and government forces that forced them to flee and live in camps. Poor access to latrine and sanitation facilities coupled with a lack of information about the importance of good hygiene lead to unnecessary illnesses and deaths from diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea. Investment by ESCRS has helped combat the spread of these water-borne diseases along with water-washed diseases that affect the eyes, such as trachoma and conjunctivitis.

Other achievements supported by ESCRS to date include:
Safe water coverage in Kitgum and Lamwo districts now stands at 84 per cent and 91 per cent respectively - meaning both districts are well above the current national rural rate of 64 per cent;
Oxfam has helped train and certify 150 male and female hand pump mechanics in skills required to operate and maintain solar-run systems. This ensures prompt, reliable and affordable maintenance of water sources;
To support public health, 150 certified health policy monitors in Kitgum are now active in the local counties;
The District Water Quality Laboratory is fully operational in Kitgum and serving both districts;
A community-based water resource manager has been put in place in the two counties and they are developing water, sanitation and hygiene implementation manuals;
A community-based sanitation and hygiene promotion has helped educate villagers about the importance of safe hygiene practices;
Both districts have a new system in place to make hand pump spare parts available to the community at a reasonable price, ensuring the pumps are never out of use;
In Lamwo, Oxfam worked with government staff to develop a community-based water resources management system. Following this, Oxfam trained and equipped 117 water user committees (with 48 per cent female membership).

This continuing collaboration between ESCRS, Oxfam and local community organisations has provided a successful model for similar projects that empower communities to independently manage key public health infrastructure, while also combating the spread of diseases.

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