She was in Kitgum, northern Uganda, setting up a water supply system, when the president initiated the lockdown. There she was, separated from her family by more than 400 kilometres.
Fortunately, as a government worker, she was allowed to return to Kampala. Being a senior environmental health officer, she was also in a position to help. Not just people but entire communities across the country.
She realised that every prevention measure requires two things: clean water and information.
She overcame her own fear of infection – and her family’s – and ventured out into the field coordinating with local leaders to improve hygiene facilities and knowledge.
Where government officials would previously equip communities with facilities and leave it at that, she actively involved and educated people.
“It’s basically about community involvement and engagement. Once you do that, they’ll be receptive to the programmes you bring in.”
She would even bring food if people were hungry.
The results were astounding. When they returned six months later to a slum where the sanitary facilities had been absolutely dilapidated, the community had turned it around completely.
It proved how much difference engagement makes.
“We want to see people change for the better, their well-being uplifted.”
‘Sensitisation’ is how she describes her distinctive approach. It indicates how she sees her role: learning from the people she educates as much as they learn from her.
Because given the lives we lead, she says that no one can be an island.
is a senior environmental health officer in the Rural Water and Sanitation Department in Kampala, Uganda. A mother of two beautiful daughters, she loves to work with people and see how they experience life. She travels all over Uganda to share knowledge and learn from others.
In Uganda, more than 80% live in rural areas and rely on subsistence agriculture. More than half live in poverty without reliable access to food. This is why most people, even those with a steady income, keep farm animals and grow some kind of vegetables.
As part of the prevention programmes, handwashing percentages came into play. In Uganda, at the height of the pandemic in 2020, still only one third of the population were washing their hands in rural areas, either due to lack of facilities or lack of awareness.