What you need to know:
- The Minister also warned that the alarming degradation of water catchment areas which generate and replenish water resources has significantly impacted the quantity and quality of water resources, something that affects the entire water cycle.
The Minister for water and environment, Sam Cheptoris has warned of severe water shortage as a result of the increasing effects of climate change in Uganda and Africa, if priority is not given to the fundamental challenge (climate change) that calls for implementation of appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures to address its impacts.
The Minister also warned that the alarming degradation of water catchment areas which generate and replenish water resources has significantly impacted the quantity and quality of water resources, something that affects the entire water cycle.
“Climate change has exacerbated the situation and has led to unpredictable weather patterns. The engineering standards and status quo of past years are now becoming less reliable guides to address future requirements. With the current population growth rate being higher than the rate of investment in safe water infrastructure across the continent, our national total water demand is expected to increase from 408 million cubic meters a year as of 2010 to 3,963 million cubic meters a year in 2050,” he said while opening the second Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation Regulator’s Association (ESAWAS) meeting at Speke Resort Munyonyo in Kampala on Tuesday.
Under climate change impacts, Mr Cheptoris revealed that the total unmet demand of water for Uganda and Africa will rise from 3.7 million cubic meters per year to 1,651 million cubic meters per year by 2050.
“In most months, water shortages will be enormous yet the existing infrastructure was built decades ago and can no longer withstand the risks presented by the effects of climate change. The expected cost in 2050 is anticipated to be $5.5billion. These values underline the need for further per capita investment in the water supply infrastructure across the continent, and in specific terms of up to $75 by 2030 from just about $32 currently in Uganda,” he added.
Organised under the theme initiatives for regulatory impact, the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation Regulator’s Association (ESAWAS) conference aims at promoting and facilitating development of effective and innovative regulation of water supply and sanitation services, with the first meeting having taken place in Zanzibar in 2022.
The regulator’s association began in 2007 as an informal gathering of five regulators seeking to share experiences in water sector reforms. Since then, the association has continued to grow and now has 12 members from Tanzania, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, Lesotho, Zanzibar, Burundi, Malawi, Uganda, Angola and South Africa. The membership is composed of nine autonomous regulators and four government ministry departments.
On his part, the Chairperson of ESAWAS, Mr Balthazar Nsanikiye called on the 12 regulators to demonstrate that the cost of establishing a regulator does not outweigh the cost of non-regulation.
“We are now almost seven years away from the sustainable development goal targets. How are our countries faring in meeting sustainable development goal six of ensuring access to water and sanitation for all? At country level, several initiatives are being put in place to accelerate sector improvements in service provision. Regulation, if instituted effectively, has the potential to be a key driver for this acceleration. This is why at continent-level, we want to share these initiatives for learning and possible adoption to improve regulation for better sector impact,” Nsanikiye said.
The second ESAWAS conference started on Tuesday and will end on October 5, 2023. The discussions will engage in constructive discussions, exchange experience and examine pioneering initiatives instituted at policy, regulatory and service provision levels to address regulatory challenges and create significant and long-lasting change in the water and sanitation sector.