Uganda: Boreholes for Education

Benjamin, head teacher of Nyumanzi 1 primary school, at the borehole built by LWF with BPRM support next to the school. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

Schools Profit from LWF Motorized Water System

(LWI) – Benjamin Makoor, head teacher of Njumanzi Primary 1, is not the person who waits for things to happen.

In his hometown Bor, Jonglei, he used to work for the South Sudanese government. “I was training teachers, he said. That was also the first time he heard of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), who are running schools in Bor as part of their development work. “These schools had a good reputation,” he says. It was however not with a school, but a borehole, that the LWF ensured his employment and the education of South Sudanese children.

When fighting broke out in South Sudan, Makoor fled to Uganda. In Adjumani refugee camp, he again met many students from Jonglei, some even from his hometown. “We have to do something,” he told the parents. ”The children need an education.”

There was no Primary school in Njumanzi settlement back then, just trees, grass and bush. “That´s enough for now,” Makoor said, “learning starts when there are students and teachers.” The tall man cleared an area with his Panga bush knife, and assembled students and teachers under two big trees. Flat stones in a semi-circle still indicate where the students used to sit. On a big branch, he hung a tire rim with a piece of string. To call his students together, he beat it with a spanner. The sound of the improvised school bells can be heard in the mountains three kilometers away.

Soon after, international agencies discovered the teacher´s initiative and built a proper school building with black boards and desks. Soon the school was overcrowded, with up to 160 students per class. In the dry season, however, Makoor still had trouble keeping them at school.

“There was no water,” Makoor says. The children were needed to fetch water from distant boreholes for their families and would wander off after a lesson or two to quench their thirst. “They had to walk to the distribution center half a kilometer from here,” Makoor says. “There were few boreholes in this settlement, and women and children are always the most affected.”

In February 2015 however, Njumanzi Primary 1 was connected to a motorized borehole system set up by the LWF. The school received its own tap stand. Students only need to press a button to drink or wash their hands after using the latrines on the compound. “Hygiene and attendance has increased greatly,” Makoor says.

The borehole has also made life easier for people in the settlement across the road. Instead of walking 500 meters, Amer Jok only has to carry the water across the road, less than a hundred meters. While hauling water looks very elegant in pictures, the 20-liter-cans are extremely heavy. ”It´s so much better now,” the young woman says.

Even in the late afternoon, there is activity at the school. The borehole is a meeting point for the settlement, so instead of running away early, Makoor´s students linger long hours after school.