Dispersed walks for water raise over £27k for Bwanga Hill!

Dispersed walks for water raise over £27k for Bwanga Hill!

Due to COVID restrictions, 15 different local walks were held across England, bringing in a record number of participants and raising £27,685 and counting for WATSAN.

Walks of all kinds across many different terrains took place up and down the country throughout June 2021, and photos from each walk can be found here. Participants ranged from families of two or three people completing their own walks, to larger groups of up to 30 walking together and supported with refreshments along the way. The map shows the locations of the walks!

Our first walker and youngest participant was Amber Bushell (pictured), aged just 7, who completed her accompanied ascent of Coniston Old Man (2633 ft.) to mark her birthday. All the walkers completed personal challenges, whatever the length of their walk, to remember the difficulties that men, women and children face each day in Uganda on their walks to collect water.

On the evening of 19th June, we held a short celebration of all the walks on Zoom, after many walkers had completed their challenge that day. It was a chance to come together to hear how the walks had gone, discover more about the target project at Bwanga, and find out roughly how much we had raised collectively. A recording of this event can be found below.

Well done everyone, particularly to the hard-working organisers of each event, and our thanks to each and every walker and donor, great and small, for such an amazing result! Funds will be directed towards WATSAN’s project at Bwanga Hill, which will now proceed, and £10,000 has already been sent out to Uganda. More will follow in October. The educational components are likely to be delayed by the ongoing Covid-19 lockdown there, which we expect to last at least until September.

A further sum of £2,300 has been sent during the third quarter of the year to cover ‘furlough’ payments to the software team, who cannot work at present as no more than six people are allowed to gather together; safety measures for the team such as hand sanitiser and face masks; and support for those in the team suffering from Covid, or isolating as a result of contact with the disease. Field Director Eric Baingana tells us that prices have risen astronomically since the pandemic took a hold, not only for basic medicines such as paracetamol but also for fruit and vegetables and other necessities.

The Ugandan team is thrilled with the results of the various walks and send their heartfelt thanks to the walk organisers and to each and every participant.

Find out more about Bwanga

Bishop Benon Magezi is lost to Covid-19

Bishop Benon Magezi is lost to Covid-19

It is with great sadness that we received news from Bishop Dan Zoreka late on June 15th of the death that evening in Kampala of Bishop Benon Magezi of North Kigezi Diocese, at the age of 60. Bishop Benon’s battle with Covid-19 had begun two weeks earlier when he was admitted to hospital in Mbarara.

He was consecrated as Bishop in January 2017 and is the second good friend of WATSAN lost to the pandemic, following the death last year in the UK of Sir John Houghton.

Prior to being installed as Bishop of North Kigezi in January 2017, Benon had been Treasurer of North Kigezi Diocese. He served for many years on the Ugandan WATSAN Management Committee. Members of the St Peter’s Bishops Waltham tour of the project in August 2017 will remember him at the inauguration of the Rumbugu Primary School project (pictured).

Each of the WATSAN projects, small and large, completed in his Diocese since then, has been graced with his presence at their inauguration ceremonies. In 2018 he led the first Ugandan Walk for Water, which raised over £4,000 for our Bwambara community project. In 2019 he visited the UK with his wife Gladys and confirmed his ongoing support and enthusiasm for WATSAN.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gladys and their five children, our friends and colleagues in the WATSAN team, and across the Diocese at large, devastated by this sudden tragic loss of their leader. The UK Trustees give thanks to God for Bishop Benon’s faithful leadership in Rukungiri, where the WATSAN team is based, and for his friendship and support over many years, culminating in his four years as Bishop of North Kigezi.

Twelve local Walks for Water to take place during June 2021

Twelve local Walks for Water to take place during June 2021

For our 2021 sponsored event, because of the uncertainties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, we are offering a series of dispersed local walks of between 12 and 20 miles, at 12 venues across the country. Local teams will fundraise towards our water and sanitation project at Bwanga Hill.

Bwanga Hill consists of a community of 876 people, mainly pupils and staff of the secondary school, and a small kindergarten. In common with many schools in Uganda, the present water supply is inadequate and inaccessible, and sanitation facilities are likewise poorly constructed and overloaded. The new scheme will provide new large tanks, repair of the borehole and the spring plus new latrines and health and hygiene education, and sanitation improvements for pupils and the wider community.

We need £25,000 to complete this project, which has already commenced with repair of the local community spring. To achieve this, WATSAN volunteers are coordinating a series of dispersed Walks for Water – sponsored events that will see up to 30 people per event walk between 12 and 20 miles. The full list of walks is as follows:

LocationDateLengthWalk leader
South Downs, West
Pilgrim ways via Beacon Hill, Old Winchester Hill and Cheese Foot Head
19th and 26th June12.5 or 25 milesJames Hunt: jameshunt1966@gmail.com
Quantock Lodge or Great Wood car park to Merridge then up to Will’s Neck and back
19th June11 milesJulie Bullett:
Thames Path, East
Putney Bridge to Teddington Lock
19th June 12.5 milesMartin Fosten:
South Downs, East
Amberley via Bignor Hill along the South Downs Way and Monarch’s Way
26th June 12 milesGraham Piper:
19th June TBCAndrew Maclean: junglemacleans@gmail.com
Thames Path, West
Kingston Bagpuize to Farmoor Reservoir, returning via Appleton and Northmoor Lock
19th June 18.5 milesIan Bensted: bensted@easynet.co.uk
Charnwood Hills
Bardon Hill (the highest point in Leicestershire), Beacon Hill, with panoramic views and Bradgate Park
19th June 17 milesAndrew Starr: leicstarr@gmail.com
National Forest
South of Derby, figure of eight centred on Ticknall, via Foremark Reservoir
12th June16 milesMichael Vick: f.andm.vick@gmail.com
Cleveland Way
A circular walk from Sutton Bank Visitor Centre via Gormire Lake and Boltby to High Paradise Farm cafe, and back along the Cleveland Way. 
19th. June10 milesAndrew Bailey: 58abailey@googlemail.com
Birmingham Canals
Olton, across SE Birmingham, taking in the canals and sights of central Birmingham, Grand Union canal
12th June16 milesAli Fergusson: alijfergusson@gmail.com
Winsley, Wiltshire
Winsley vis Monkton Farleigh to the north and the Kennett and Avon Canal and Westwood to the south
19th June 20 milesJonny & Ivana Bensted:
Ham Hill, Somerset
A circular walk on Ham Hill, with several access points from the various villages – with picnic at the hill top or one of our many excellent pubs
12th June TBCAnnie Gurner: revgurner@btinternet.com

We hope that many of our supporters will join one or other of these walks, and help to raise money through sponsorship (details below) for Bwanga Hill. Anyone wishing to join a walk local to them can contact the walk leader directly and request details of the meeting point and route.

Walk leaders are responsible for planning the route (including regular breaks), risk assessing the event, providing a first aider and communicating with walkers. You take part in the event at your own risk.

We will have a celebratory event on Zoom for all walkers on Saturday 19th June at 8pm. Your walk leader can send you the details once you sign up for your walk!


You can collect funds via our sponsorsheet sheet, or by creating an online fundraising page using our online donation platform Stewardship. Our Treasurer Ali Fergusson has set out step-by-step instructions for the latter to help you!

Alternatively, you can ask your sponsors to donate directly to our dedicated Bwanga donation page.

The more sponsors you get, the closer we will be to raising our target of £25,000 for Bwanga. Use the video above to persuade your friends, family and colleagues to donate.

People in rural Uganda walk miles every day to collect water from distant, polluted water sources. Let’s stand with them and walk our paths for their water.

Cuts in UK aid dash WATSAN’s hopes of funding for an important community project

Cuts in UK aid dash WATSAN’s hopes of funding for an important community project

A statement from our Trustees, May 3rd. 2021 

Sadly we have been notified by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) that they have had to make the difficult decision to not progress with the latest round of the Small Charities Challenge Fund. For WATSAN this means that our ongoing application for a grant will not be progressed. After a long time, and not a little effort by our Trustees, WATSAN had reached the short list for this round of grants, with an application for a grant for a community project to serve some of the poorest people in a remote part of Kanungu District (Kinkiizi Diocese), not far from the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This is at a time when we have all had drummed into us that clean water and sanitation are the first line of defence against Covid-19, and the UK Government continues to promote hand-washing as one of the most important ways of protecting ourselves from viral infection. Without convenient access to clean water, this cannot happen in poorer communities across the world. Neither will it happen where communities lack basic health and hygiene knowledge. Clean water and health education, as well as sanitation improvements, are key components of all our projects. Now we are told that, along with many others in the water sector, they will not be funded. For the almost 30% cut in the UK aid budget has resulted in a cut of some 80% in the support for these categories of aid projects compared to 2019.

There is widespread concern in the charity sector and amongst MPs of all parties at this swingeing cut to this aspect of the aid programme at time when Covid 19 remains a serious threat or potential threat in many parts of the world, including Uganda. 200 charities have said in a joint statement that cuts to humanitarian aid by the UK were a “tragic blow for many of the world’s most marginalised people”. Andrew Mitchell, the former international development secretary has said: “Access to water and sanitation is consistently the UK public’s top priority when polled about what aid should be spent on… “We are balancing the books on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world and it is a matter of national shame for our country to be slashing spending in this way.”

It has been pointed out that the figure of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) directed to foreign aid is enshrined in law, but its reduction to 0.5% is being implemented across the aid programme without any reference to Parliament to date. That would appear to make its implementation unlawful. We strongly support representations which are being made to secure a vote in Parliament before cuts are irretrievably rolled out within this and other sectors of the UK aid programme.

Trustees, WATSAN Uganda, UK Support

Ian Bensted, Chair

Graham Piper, Vice-Chair

Ali Fergusson, Treasurer

Ellie Bensted, Secretary

Andrew Maclean
Kate Parrinder

Webinar is opportunity for Walk for Water planning

Webinar is opportunity for Walk for Water planning

We were delighted to see so many people at our most recent webinar, which focused on the potential of a new project at Bwanga Hill, and was the chance for supporters to share their plans for a series of virtual Walks for Water over the summer.

At the webinar testimonials from the community in Bwanga Hill were shared. This is WATSAN’s next target project and will rejuvenate crumbling water facilities at a High School of 650 students and the surrounding church and community. This was compared to a completed project at Kihihi Hill – a similar location where school students now have a water supply within the school and don’t have to miss lessons walking back and forth to distant, polluted sources. The full video outlining the potential of this project has now been published.

Plans were outlined for 12 different sponsored walks to take place in the UK during June, with walk leaders in rural and urban locations in Somerset, Kent, London, Leicester, Birmingham and Oxfordshire mobilising local friends and contacts to raise money for WATSAN. Full details of all the available walks, which will be risk assessed in a consistent way for both Covid and general safety, will be shared shortly.

We were lucky to be joined live from Uganda by Field Director Rev Eric Baingana, and Kinkiizi Link Moses Kabarebe.

A recording of the webinar can be seen below.