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WASH Symposium: MPs Call for Increased Investment In Water & Sanitation In Uganda

By Muhumuza Jimmy 

Parliament

Legislators sitting on the Parliamentary Forum on Water Sanitation and Hygiene have called for increased investment in the water sector in order to improve the quality of lives of the people in Uganda, saying the reliance of MPs to dig into their pockets to repair water sources like boreholes in their constituencies isn’t sustainable.

Lawmakers made the pleas while addressing journalists at Parliament, ahead of the annual Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Symposium in which civil society groups Twaweza East Africa and Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) released figures on the recent studies taken on the status of water and sanitation in Uganda indicating that 86% of have problems in accessing clean drinking water.

 Silas Aogon, Chairperson Parliamentary Forum on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene revealed plans to hold a meeting with President Museveni in order to bring him up to speed with the challenges people in Uganda are encountering in terms of access to water and sanitation in Uganda.

He also described as inhumane the practice of charging people to access sanitation facilities and called to have free access to water and toilets in major ways, instead of condemning travelers to using bushes, actions he says put the health of people living around areas where open defecation takes place in jeopardy.

MPs were to increase oversight over WASH projects in their areas in order to make sure that when the Government releases money, that money is being utilized, revealing that when some of the districts get money, they take 6months without utilizing it and at times such money ends up being returned to the consolidated fund.

Legislators called on increased investment in WASH projects in order to avoid any catastrophe in case Uganda encountered another pandemic as was the case for COVID-19, that needed access to clean water for people to wash their hands in order to reduce the spread of the deadly virus.

Findings from TWAWEZA data collected from 2,809 respondents across Uganda in August and September 2023 indicate that 6 out of 10 citizens (63%) name access to water as a serious problem affecting their communities including 4 out of 10 who say it is the most serious problem (39%). It’s also indicated that 5% of households in the country have no toilets to ease themselves while only 2% have flush toilets. 

Aogon said, “It is the MPs who are maintaining the water sources in the villages, boreholes are the common water facility and they break down rampantly but for you to buy one pipe, you spend Shs60,000 and you have to transport them because you put many pipes. How much money are MPs spending on this, yet it isn’t their job. We shouldn’t plant water sources which aren’t operational, so operation and maintenance of water sources is a must.”

Timothy Chemoges, Associate Director at the Centre for Policy Analysis called for the re-affirmation to ensure that both the global and national commitments are met and adhered to, in order for Uganda to realize the ultimate goal of fulfilling the WASH commitment.

“When you look at the Auditor general’s report, it highlights a lot of discrepancies in terms of expenditure and we request the MPs to pick interest in that and demand for more accountability. Kindly put more pressure on the Executive to ensure they prioritize the isssue of WASH given its critical role and the importance it serves in all the other sector,” remarked Chemonges.

Legislators called on increased investment in WASH projects in order to avoid any catastrophe in case Uganda encountered another pandemic as was the case for COVID-19, that needed access to clean water for people to wash their hands in order to reduce the spread of the deadly virus.

Findings from TWAWEZA data collected from 2,809 respondents across Uganda in August and September 2023 indicate that 6 out of 10 citizens (63%) name access to water as a serious problem affecting their communities including 4 out of 10 who say it is the most serious problem (39%). It’s also indicated that 5% of households in the country have no toilets to ease themselves while only 2% have flush toilets. 

“Suppose another pandemic broke out, should it find us as unprepared as we were last time, no, therefore as we move forward, we need to engage all stakeholders in making sure at local and national level we are increasing budget for WASH activities in order to make sure that be have clean water which is preventative to the diseases from dirty waster and lack of water,” he said,

Isaac Etuka (Upper Madi County) called for equitable distribution of WASH projects across the country, noting that there are some areas where people are looking for water for irrigation, yet in some places, people have to trek over 20Kms to get clean water, a disparity he partly blamed on the corruption that has cheated the public from accessing their deserved resources.

Etuka said, “We have a lot of investments in water, but also there is an issue of corruption. When you look at the amount of money invested by NGOs and also agencies in the issues of WASH, you would imagine that by now we wouldn’t have so much challenges but up to date, we see that the WASH issues are still very big challenge and this goes to affect the health. The moment we address the issues of WASH, it will be a very big investment and it will reduce the rate of disease.”

findings from data collected from 2,809 respondents across Uganda in August and September 2023 indicate that 6 out of 10 citizens (63%) name access to water as a serious problem affecting their communities including 4 out of 10 who say it is the most serious problem (39%).

She however, added that there are significant disparities between Ugandans’ views on this issue, citing Citizens from rural areas (45%), poorer households (53%), and households with no education (47%) are much more likely to say access to water is a serious problem.

Nanyanzi explained and also noted that despite the fact that there exist stark inequalities, there is some positive news in terms of access to clean and safe water. Nationwide, the proportion of households that access drinking water from a piped or other improved source has risen from 74% in 2018 to 80% in 2023. Most of this improvement has been seen in rural areas (69% to 77% over the same period), while in urban areas – where access is higher – the change has been smaller (86% to 90%). However, there are also signs of stagnation in access to piped water in the last five years.

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