United Kingdom

Uganda Network

Clean Water


"Children have the right to enough food, clean water and health care"

Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink Water is essential to human life. We can live for quite a long time without food but without water we would die in a matter of days. In Uganda there is not the sort of drought that one sees on the television in reports from other parts of the African continent. Although there is plenty of water, it is often far away from where people live, and it often is not as clean as one might like.

Diarrhoea is something we all have had, but in countries like Uganda it can be very dangerous because it can cause malnutrition and even kill you. It can be prevented by keeping clean, using clean water and by eating properly.

Talk to the Beaver Scouts about where we get our water from.

  • Is it in a well at the bottom of the garden?
  • Do we have to walk miles with a jug of water on our heads?
  • Or does it come out of a tap ready to drink?

Can the Beaver Scouts think of other places where water can or cannot be drunk? Uganda's cities and major towns have water on tap, although like in many countries it isn't always reliably clean. (You might like to consider with your Beaver Scouts how many families now use home filter systems or buy bottled water for just the same reason.) In other parts of Uganda water may have to be obtained from a village tap. Alternatively it may be pumped from wells deep in the ground. Or it may involve a three mile trek twice a day to collect water from the nearest river. In some areas of the country clean water simply isn't available at all, and then people use muddy and polluted water holes to provide their essential water. In Uganda a lot of illnesses are caused by dirty water.

Because safe drinking water is hard to find in Uganda, an enormous amount of fizzy pop is drunk by adults and children alike. Bottled water is virtually unknown. The fizzy drinks include both well known Cola firms' products and one specific to Uganda that is pineapple flavoured. The amount of sugar in them means that they aren't the healthiest of ways to quench your thirst, but they are probably the safest.

Consider with the Colony just what we use water for and how necessary it is for life. Try running a Colony meeting without water and try planning in some activities that would normally use it. You might run a very tiring game but not have anything available to quench the children's thirst. You might try painting, with no water to mix paints with or to wash up. Try doing something messy without being able to wash your hands. And as for needing to visit the lavatory. Well, perhaps water is fairly important for Beaver Scouts.

It may be worth discussing with the Beaver Scouts about the reasons for water becoming dirty and unusable such as using dirty containers, washing in rivers, playing in water, using rivers for toilets, animals in water, and factories emptying waste into rivers.

Using the diagrams which you can download, (UNICEF - Caring for children everywhere) the Beaver Scouts could discuss what they like and dislike most about water.

It is true that water can get just as dirty and useless in this country as it can in Africa. Often the harm we do to the environment here is much more permanent than in the developing world.







Activity - Who Needs Water?

Ask the Beaver Scouts what lives and depends on water. Provide magazines and scissors and cut out pictures of animals, birds, fish and plants and so on. Make a frieze and hang it on the wall.

Finish the activity with a discussion on the dangers of pollution and litter and the ways in which Beaver Scouts can help look after the environment. Information on water safety and pollution can be obtained from your local water authority.

Looking after our teeth

What with all the fizzy drinks that are drunk, Ugandans have very similar problems with their teeth as we do in the United Kingdom. It may be worth exploring the importance of healthy teeth and gums with the Beaver Scouts if you haven't done so for some time.

Crest produce some excellent educational materials all about dental hygiene. You can obtain their address from the side of one of their toothpaste packets.

Brushing with Confidence

Children who live in the towns in Uganda can buy toothbrushes in the same way as we do. However, in the country, many families make their own toothbrushes in the traditional way. This is done using brush sticks made from small twigs that are clean and come from non poisonous trees. The children chew on the end of the twig and use the fibres as a brush. Beaver Scouts could bring in their own toothbrushes and the Beaver Scout Leader could make a fibre brush.

Organise a Visit to the Colony

Invite your local dental officer or oral therapist to the Colony. They could show the children the correct way to brush their teeth and help you to talk about healthy eating too.

Contact the Uganda Network Copyright © The UK Uganda Network - 2002
Last modified 29 December 2003


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