Speaking to a local, we gained further insight into the latrine system at Owino. Our interviewer brought up the widespread use of non-flush toilets that had to be cleared regularly by roving sewage trucks of the National Water & Sewerage Corporation.
Transitioning to a more rural setting, our various personal experiences using the open pit latrines during our Rakai homestay were well covered in our group-led discussion. While it was meant to be a fun introductory activity, one positive outcome was that it helped shed light on the seemingly universal lack of sanitation in daily cooking and defecation practices. Coming from the developed world, we take many of our daily conveniences for granted. The WHO says that around 40% of the world’s population lives without access to improved sanitation, while 52% of people in developing countries live without access to improved sanitation. As such, this course has uniquely benefitted us not just by providing the information, but also backing it up with a highly personal educational experience for each and every one of us.
Ultimately, we feel that the widespread indifference towards aseptic techniques, as well as the lack of Ventilated-Improved Pit Latrines (VIP), can certainly be ameliorated by a concerted effort on the part of the Ugandan Government to increase public awareness and subsidize the construction of improved sanitation facilities.
Ultimately, our experiences in both rural and urban settings have certainly set the stage for our research into the water and sanitation situation in Uganda. While progress is being made, there remain several key hurdles to any long-term success. In particular, there exists a high degree of mistrust between the government and private citizens. This is compounded by a chronic lack of civic responsibility, as well as the absence of political commitment on the part of public office holders. Despite the proliferation of innovative ideas, it is our honest opinion that this has, for the most part, translated into policy implementation failure.