Safe water still a dream to the majority in Uganda

Monday March 22 2010

By Evelyn Lirri

Kampala

Despite access to clean water being a basic right, only six out of 10 Ugandans enjoy this privilege.

Ms Maria Mutagamba, the Water and Environment minister, in a message to mark the World Water Day today, says whereas access to clean water has improved to 65 percent in rural areas and 66 percent in urban areas, much more needs to be done to meet the United Nations targets of everyone accessing the service by 2015.

The UN Millennium Development Goal Seven requires countries to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation through improved drinking water sources and sanitation facilities.

A 2007 UNDP mid-term report on Uganda’s performance on the MDGs shows that although access to improved water sources has increased, the functionality rate is far from 100 percent.

Climate change threat
“There is need to provide for an effective and sustainable means to maintain the improved water sources to ensure continued access for all by 2015,” the report reads.

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This year’s World Water Day is being marked under the theme, Communicating water quality challenges and opportunities.
Ms Mutagamba said: “Unfortunately, environmental degradation and climate change impacts threatens to undo these achievements. To protect our water resources and environment we need the active participation and contribution of everyone.”

Corruption in the water sector is one of the factors failing Uganda’s efforts to extend clean water to the remaining 37 per cent more than 10 million who still don’t have access to clean drinking water.

According to a Ministry of Water and Environment baseline survey on integrity in the water supply and sanitation sector, at least 10 percent of the money invested in the water sector is lost through corruption. And between 2002/3 and 2008/9 financial years, up to Shs51 billion had been lost.

The survey was funded by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme.

For example, the survey found that huge disparities still exist in water coverage throughout the country, ranging from 12 per cent in the least served district of Kaboong in north eastern Uganda to 95 percent converge in the south western district of Kabale.

According to the report, the 10 least covered districts with protected drinking water, with coverage of less than 40 percent are Kaboong, Yumbe, Kotido, Isingiro, Kiruhura, Bugiri, Kisoro, Mayuge, Manafwa and Nakapiripirit.

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