Assessment of water quality and community perceptions in Northern division, Soroti Municipality
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Background: Access to safe water is greatly lacking in many villages and urban areas of Uganda. The water sources that exist are often severely contaminated, making cyclical bouts of severe illness and premature death a part of everyday life. Uganda through Ministry of Water and Environment mandates districts to routinely monitor bacteriological water quality; however, the district and urban authorities are unable to do this due to resource constraints. Objective: This study assessed the households’ safe water chain practices, determined the bacteriological and physical quality of water from water sources, contamination risks associated with water sources and further explored peoples’ perceptions on water quality in Northern division, Soroti Municipality. Methodology: This was a cross sectional study involving mixed methods. Focus group discussions (FGDs) and Key informant interviews (KII) were used to collect qualitative data which was analyzed using a master data sheet. Quantitative data was collected using an interviewer administered questionnaire developed in Epi collect. Sanitary survey inspection forms collected data on contamination risks of water sources. Data collected using Epi collect was transferred to STATA version 13 for Univariate analysis. Results: More than a half 53.14% (161/303) respondents collected water from the taps and the commonest means of transporting water from the water source was carrying at the head 82.18% (249/303). Escherichia coli were present in 91.0% (10/11) of the boreholes, 64.0% (7/11) met the WHO permissible limits for turbidity which is less than 5NTU. All the springs and the hand dug well were heavily contaminated with Escherichia coli > 1000/ 100ml (too numerous to count). Perceptions of people on water quality varied, sensory perception issues raised included colour, taste and odour. Information about the source, trust and control issues and economic factors involved in the access of water also influenced their perception of water quality. Conclusion: The quality of water was generally poor since most of the water sources were contaminated and the counts for E. Coli and turbidity were extremely above the recommended WHO permissible limits which are zero coliform per 100ml and less than 5 NTU respectively.