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

A statement from our Trustees, May 3rd. 2021 

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

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

 [TF1]Wording helps show disappointment perhaps?

 [TF1]Wording helps show disappointment perhaps?

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.

New video shows the need and potential for our target project in Bwanga Hill

New video shows the need and potential for our target project in Bwanga Hill

Thanks to the WATSAN staff team we have been able to collect testimonials from the schools and communities in desperate need of our next project.

Staff members Marius Katunguka and Moses Kabarebe have collected new video that brings to life both the dire need for our planned project in Bwanga Hill, and some inspiration from a similar, completed project in Kihihi Hill. The new video can be seen below.

We hope that those taking part in our dispersed Walk for Water in June will be able to use this video to encourage their friends, relatives and colleagues to sponsor them to walk and raise money for the Bwanga project.

Set up a fundraising page for Bwanga

Our next webinar: learn more about the potential in Bwanga

Our next webinar: learn more about the potential in Bwanga

Following the success of our first webinar in November, we will be holding another on Saturday 20th March from 3.00 to 4.00pm. It will be the chance to hear another update from the team in Uganda, in particular about the need for our target project in Bwanga Hill, and the plans in place to help the community there to lift itself out of poverty.

This live online session will be held on Zoom with WATSAN’s UK trustees, where we will explain why we are targeting Bwanga with a new water, sanitation and health education project. We have collected testimonials from the community we hope to serve with the project, and the session will bring the nuts and bolts of our work to life.

Alongside the present difficult conditions at Bwanga, we will share the potential positive outcomes by comparing it with a similar but completed project at Kihihi Hill. The webinar is a chance to see and discuss the real impact of WATSAN’s work, all of which is enabled by the generosity of our supporters.

We will also share more details of our planned series of 11 dispersed socially distanced Walks for Water in June. Look out for one near you!

We hope this short event will be a moment of solidarity and positivity as we plough on through the final weeks of lockdown.

Please register to join us here!

Never too old… never too young… to be a WATSAN supporter!

Never too old… never too young… to be a WATSAN supporter!

Joyce and Lydia might be at opposite ends of the age spectrum, but they have passionate support for WATSAN in common.

Joyce holding one of the earliest Bibles translated into Welsh (c.1799) at the Mary Jones Centre near Bala

Joyce Currie at 95 plus is probably our oldest supporter. Still living independently in her bungalow on the west Wales coast, Joyce regularly swam in the Atlantic until she was 90.

Recently featured on the front page of her local paper, Joyce has campaigned tirelessly to restore access for pushchairs and wheelchair users to the extensive sandy beach at Fairbourne.

Passionate about Fairtrade, Joyce has run a stall at her local church, St Cynon’s, for many years, and helped introduce members to WATSAN, which they now support.

A tame blackbird keeps her company, hopping up to the French windows for the feast of currants Joyce keeps for him! Despite her declining health, Joyce sends a generous cheque for WATSAN every few months. She says, “I’m so glad to be able to help in a small way.”

Lydia painting Storm, her cousins’ cat

At the other end of the age spectrum, Gap Year student Lydia Hunt has had a rough ride this year. Along with her cohort she was very disappointed not to be able to take her A-Levels due to the Covid lockdown. However she achieved excellent assessments and hopes to study medicine from next autumn.

Lydia writes, “I think many of us in the lockdown feel rather hopeless. What can I do to help those in need? How can I make a difference? The penniless Gap Year student that I am…? However, for me painting has always been a joy; there is nothing more satisfying and nothing more peaceful. It’s a delight for me to paint portraits of people, and sometimes their pets! The Lord has put on my heart the people of Uganda. I have little money to give, but friends have commissioned me to paint for them, so I have been able to give the proceeds to WATSAN.”

Find out how you too can give to WATSAN