Many schools in Rakai district are forcing pupils to carry water from home due to the prevailing drought conditions.
The most affected schools are in the hilly sub-counties of Lwamaggwa, Kagamba Byakabanda, Kyalulangira, Ddwamiro, and Kagamba where learners are now being asked to carry water from their homes for use at school.
Edward Muyingo, a parent at Kansankala Primary School in Kagamba sub-county, says that on a daily basis, his children are required to carry along a 5-liter jerrycan of water whenever they are reporting to school.
He says the area is facing a grave water crisis that is arising from the prolonged dry spell, which has dried up the majority of water sources.
According to Muyingo, many schools have no alternative water sources hence resorting to asking pupils to carry it from home.
Even in homes, Muyingo argues that the pupils can hardly find safe-clean water to carry to school because the communities are also fetching water from the remaining few lagoons that are also usually contaminated with mud.
Gerald Wangi, a teacher at Kibingwa Primary School confirms that they are currently relying on the water the learners are carrying from home because the school cannot find any other sources in the nearby area.
He explains that the pupils have previously been fetching the water from the community dam, which also dried up recently due to the long dry spell.
Wangi explains that the acute water scarcity has also made it difficult for the school to regularly prepare meals for both teachers and pupils, which is directly affecting the learning process.
John Bosco Mayanja, a resident of Nabubale villages in Kagamba sub-county, indicates that the entire district is generally facing acute water scarcity.
He says that even the parents are trekking very long distances in search of water, which has lately become a requirement for learners.
Mayanja has appealed to the government and well-wishers to urgently support schools in the area with water harvesting facilities to save the learners from contracting infections due to consumption of unsafe water.
Reagan Kamuhiirwa, a primary five Pupil at Lwakarooro Primary school, says that it is already proving a hard task for them to carry water to school, after fetching it from very long distances to their homes.
He has also called upon the government to come to their rescue by either providing their schools with water tanks or extending piped water to the community to ensure a stable supply.
Anthony Magembe, the Rakai District Senior Education Officer also acknowledges the problem of water scarcity and the challenges it is presenting to schools.
He says as a department, they are going to write a comprehensive report about the current situation in schools, which they intend to use in lobbying the government and other partners for interventions that can save the problem that is recurrent in the area.
Notably, in 2012, the government through the Water and Sanitation Development Services program undertook to construct a sh 17 billion bulky water project to address persistent water scarcity in Kagamba, Ddwaniro, and Lwamagwa sub-county.
The government accordingly paid out sh 8.5 billion for the excavation of a huge dam in the Kagamba sub-county, but the project stalled before the water was distributed throughout the targeted communities.