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Potential risks, consumer perceptions and preferences of shallow ground water in urban and rural areas of Uganda




Shallow ground water is an important resource in both rural and urban areas of Uganda. However, this water could be a vehicle for diarrheal infections in the country. Investigations were carried out to assess the sanitary practices and potential risks for pollution of these water resources. A questionnaire survey in addition to direct observations and focus group discussions was carried out in Kampala City (urban) and Amuria and Kiboga districts (rural areas). Several potential risks for contamination of these resources were identified. Pit latrine coverage was high in Kiboga (97.8%) and Nakawa (95.1%), however, in the latter they were often located uphill, and close (<15m) to the water sources.  In contrast, Amuria had low pit latrine coverage (46.8%) with residents indiscriminately disposing fecal excreta into the environment. In Kiboga 74.5% of respondents reported livestock access to domestic water sources, this was followed by Amuria (43.2%) and least was Nakawa (26.2%). Other sanitary risks included rain pollution, faulty concrete slabs on wells and protected springs and washing and garbage disposal near water sources. The presence of earth worms sometimes in water featured prominently. Data showed that 78.1%, 68% and 2.7%, residents of Kiboga, Nakawa and Amuria, respectively, boiled their water prior to drinking. The communities in both urban and rural areas preferred shallow ground water as opposed to tap water and considered the former as being fresh, clean and safe from pollution since it is from underground. Based on these data there was a need to sensitize and educate the communities about good sanitary practices and dangers of consuming contaminated water and studies were therefore necessary to assess the safety and quality of this water.