- Ms Jane Asanti who is expecting soon has been banking her money to buy clothes, basins and other essentials for the child
- Various humanitarian organisations are now setting up solar powered water points so that the heinous water trucking is reduced
- And this has opened up employment opportunities to the host communities and refugees as Pump Attendants and technicians
- OXFAM has helped to provide empowerment for both women and men in the refugee camps where they are employed in various fields
Arua- The 27 year-old expectant mother, Ms Jane Asanti, is beating all the odds to eke a living out of operation of a generator that is used to pump water at Zone 2 in Imvepi settlement in Arua district.
Despite her condition of being about eight months pregnant, Ms Asanti says she wakes up at 5am daily to start up the generator and switch on the solar pump. Her employment has changed her life, which was harder when she fled from Yei Province.
“I came with five children after footing for five days in the bushes before we arrived at Busia border point in Koboko district. Life was very difficult at the beginning. I could sell off the food rations that World Food Program gave to me in order to buy clothes and other items,” she said.
But luck came to her way when OXFAM established both solar pump and a generator at Zone 2 in order to help pump water. After she applied for the job, she was taken although she had a qualification as a Secretary. She had advantage because she worked with South Sudan Relief Commission in South Sudan before fleeing to Uganda.
Joy at last: Ms Asanti near the door of the generator. Photos by Felix
“Before this work, children used to complain of only eating beans. At least the Shs 450,000 which I earn monthly has enabled me to prepare for my baby during delivery, pay school fees, buy clothes, meat, fish, and save in the bank for the future of my family. Although it is difficult to work always with the condition of pregnancy I am in now, I am happy that my colleague helps me to do the harder jobs.”
Being a Pump Attendant, she is now able to make minor repairs if the generator develops a technical glitch. Many of the South Sudan refugees are being encouraged to take up job opportunities provided by the humanitarian organisations.
She has to ensure that there is constant supply of water with constant running of the solar and generator. “The women in the camps should not only rely on handouts from the humanitarian agencies but they should supplement the budget of the husbands by carrying out trade also because there is market for food products,” she said.
The husband, Mr James Mukobe works as A Nutritionist at a health center within the settlement. Her colleague, Mr Venterino Alindu, a Pump Operator, said: “We work well with good understanding and she is so hardworking because she comes early even when she is yet to be at home. She has the passion of working to ensure that the over 6,000 refugees in the Zone.”
Part of the solar that Asanti makes sure is in workable condition to pump water at Imvepi camp. Photo by Felix
The OXFAM Public Relations Office in Arua, Ms Angela Nuwahereza, said: “We usually encourage women refugees to be engaged in employment and activities that can make them supplement their budget at homes. It is always hard to depend on the humanitarian agencies because there are daily needs that need to be met in families. So this need additional income like Asanti is doing. And she is our role model and will continue with the work even after she has delivered.”
One of the refugee women, Ms Grace Jokudu, said: “We usually get water all the time especially this rainy season because it is constantly pumped. This has relieved us from traveling long distances and wait for hours at the nearby streams. And the good thing is that this is clean and safe water that is pumped using the solar to the tanks and this has also reduced for us the distance of traveling to get water.”