Exclusive: How Zombo health facility operated for 39 years without a clean water source

Situated close to the border of Uganda and DR Congo, Jangokoro Health Center III in Jangokoro Sub County Zombo District was established in 1984 as a Health Center II Facility and later upgraded to Health Center III in 1988. #WhisperEyeNews

This facility is the only running destination for the most impoverished rural community not forgetting locals from the nearby Lower local governments of Abanga, Padea, Athuma and Eastern DR Congo.

Jangokoro Health Center III in Zombo was established in 1984.

But for the past 39 years since its inception, Jangokoro Health Center III has been operating without any clean water source. Patients, expectant mothers and staff are forced to move more than 2 kilometres in the valleys in search of clean water.

In 2021, a non-governmental organization constructed a solar-powered water system at the facility but to date, the system has been non-functional due to some technical glitch.

When a reporter of this Publication visited the facility over the weekend, expectant mothers were seen stranded as a result of the water crisis.

The District councillor of Jangokoro Sub County David Arua revealed that since 1984, The facility has never had any clean water source.

He stressed that their several efforts to get attention to the water crisis at the council meetings have been hitting snags for years.

A woman told the media that there are fears that mothers will start on the way in search of water since water points are very far away.

“This facility was established in 1984, but there hasn’t been any clean water source. Women fetch water from unclean water sources in the valleys nearly two kilometres away, we raised the matter in the council several times but no one listened to us, women are really suffering here and In case anything happens to these expectant mothers, We shall sue the district” He asserted.

The staff quarter houses only three out of the 14 staff

Gilbert Binen 58, A resident of Afuda Parish where the facility is located told this Publication that water shortage at the facility is not only affecting expectant mothers but all the staff. He said leaders have been making promises of improving the facility since the 1996 general election but to date, nothing has yielded.

” I voted in 1996 and many of the old leaders promised to connect water and construct staff houses but in vain, People are facing water crisis here annually, no one cares, and expectant mothers suffer the most because they move very far to search for water. our political leaders just come and convince us for votes” Binen said.

Amos Okethwengu, A Village Health Team Member of Agorosi Village Afuda Parish said: “If you go down in the valleys and witness the water that these expectant mothers are drawing, you will get shocked, people are sharing the same water source with animals and diseases are going to start spreading like wild_fire”.

The neighbouring Government Alala Primary School is equally bearing the brunt of the water shortage as pupils are also forced to share the same water source in the valleys with animals.

Some of the non-functional water equipment has been fixed at the facility by a non-governmental organization since 2021.

What the mothers are saying

Jerose Olyera attending to a Patient at the facility said “We move long distances and besides, the water is not good for consumption but we don’t say anything for fear”.

Another expectant mother said, ” Moving to far-off areas is hard, very soon, someone is going to deliver on the way which is going to cause more shame”.

Grace fuathum, an expectant mother came from eastern DR Congo for antenatal care. 

She said, “The most hectic thing is moving nearly 2 kilometres away from the facility in search of clean water”.

Some of the expectant mothers say they spent days without bathing as water source is very far from the facility.

Staffing gap

This Publication understands that out of the 14 staff at the facility, only three stay at the Quarter of the facility. There is only one block that houses the 3 staff.

Other staff stay in Paidha Town Council which is more than 10 kilometres away from the facility and the situation becomes unbearable during an emergency.

The District councillor of Jangokoro Sub County Binen David Arua said all crisis at the facility is majorly attributed to less attention to the facility by the District Health Department he has even failed to extensively do its supervisory roles. He also blamed the Zombo district local government for the mess at the facility.

Out of the District population of over 250,000 about 214, 932 are rural based.

The District has 8 Health Center IIIs of which 2 are privately owned . 2 Health Center II  have been corded and will be upgraded to Health Center III. The District has 1 Church Founded General Hospital and one Government owned Health Center IV.

What the leaders are saying 

On July 16 this year, the LCV chairperson of Zombo James Oruna Oyullu said a plan is in place to have the water crisis at the facility addressed.

But the District health officer of Zombo Mark Bramali when contacted says he is aware of the crisis and promised to call back to give more detail.

” I know you want to interview me on the issue of water at Jangokoro Health Center III, wait I will call you back because I’m in a very noisy place” Bramali said.

The district councillor of Jangokoro Sub county David Binen Arua said their efforts to get water crisis at the facility solved has not worked at the district level.

Zombo has 59,434 women of Productive age with an annual expected pregnancy of 14,712 according to the 2022 report from the District Health Department.