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Guardian’s Katine Project Coverage Concludes

The Guardian concluded its three-year Katine project in north-eastern Uganda, which “tracked the implementation of a development project focusing on five aspects of deprivation: health, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods and governance,” the newspaper writes. Together with the help of Barclays, Guardian readers, Amref and CARE International, the newspaper covered “an extraordinary picture of the ups and downs, strains and stresses of a development project” (Bunting, 10/30).

In an article looking at Katine’s health care system, the Guardian writes: “Three years ago, Ojom health centre was no more than two rooms and a couple of nursing staff. Now it has a lab, built by Amref, and – after a long wait – a full-time lab assistant, which means patients can be tested for malaria, HIV and other diseases, allowing them to get their results and be treated the same day.”

The project has helped with vaccination rates and improved malaria treatment, according to the newspaper. But the program has also experienced complications, including a strike by the volunteer workers participating in the village health teams (VHTs), a key part of efforts to improve health education, malaria treatment, HIV testing, family planning counseling and other issues. According to the newspaper, which details the disagreement between Amref and the workers, “the dispute has caused damage. Progress has stalled and an entire year’s data has been lost.”

The article details other challenges, including the arrival of a new health center that lacks sufficient electricity and the government’s ban on traditional attendants from delivering babies because of their inability to handle complications. “But healthcare in Katine has gone at least three steps forward for every two steps back. And its people are grateful for that,” the Guardian reports (Boseley, 10/30).

Another Guardian piece looks at how sanitation and hygiene has changed over the course of the project. “Ominit is one of 11 boreholes the project has installed, along with five shallow wells so far. One more borehole and two shallow wells are under construction – and one borehole needs redrilling because it takes half an hour of pumping to raise a trickle of water. … Then there are toilets. Or rather, their absence. … Faecal-borne diseases are a problem in Katine. Three years ago, only 7% of households had a latrine. Most people went in the bush – and handwashing afterwards was not even considered.” The VHTs were supposed to educate people about the benefits of using a latrine, but the dispute with Amref also hindered this. Drama groups have been recruited to communicate these messages at church. So far, two such plays have taken place, the article reports.

In 13 schools, about 116 gender-segregated toilets have been built, the newspaper notes. “There have been significant problems, however, with the design and choice of materials for the toilet blocks,” the Guardian writes (Boseley, 10/30). 

Though the Guardian’s news coverage has ended, Amref has another year of work planned. “New boreholes will be constructed, with the aim of 85% of the community having access to clean water by the end of the fourth year, and Amref also wants to increase household latrine coverage from 39% to 75%,” according to an article about the series conclusion (Bunting, 10/30).

The full collection of articles includes a first-person reflection from a journalist who worked on the project, and an examination of changes in the town’s education and financial systems.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.