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Document Type

Research

Abstract

This article presents findings on children’s experience in accessing and utilizing water in two sub-counties of Kagamba and Lwanda; one extremely water-scarce and the other relatively water plenty in Rakai district, Uganda. We answer the following question: How do children in a water-scarce context experience water and what does it mean for their wellbeing? A survey was conducted among school-going children aged 11-17 years (N=405), combined with focus group discussions with children and women. Access to adequate safe water was the fifth most frequently mentioned component of wellbeing. A majority of the children affirmed that water scarcity was the biggest threat to their wellbeing. Water scarcity posed both direct and indirect threats; the direct threat resulting from long distances and risks at the water point. Indirectly, the poor quality of water increased susceptibility to water-related illness. A majority of the children experienced a water problem in their home and were unhappy living in such a situation. Unhappiness also resulted from reduction of playing time, punishment and body aches. Fetching water made up the bulk of the chores performed by children, making it a drudgery due to using heavy water vessels, long distances covered and the number of trips to the water point per day. Childhood, in the context of domestic water scarcity encompasses vulnerability. It hence requires protection through the improvement of domestic water access, both in terms of quantity and quality.

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