By Morris Chris Ongom
As our nation grapples with the response against COVID-19, we are extremely convinced that our national leader, His Excellency General Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, the Minister of Health and the rest of the frontline leaders are making strides in salvaging the fate of our nation. Bravo, team Uganda!
Today, I want to address one next issue that affects the ordinary Ugandans. While the National Water & Sewerage Corporation has been instructed not to disconnect water, although the charges remain an issue, my rural people are in a battle of water crisis day in day out.
The water dilemma is not happening because of COVID-19 but over the years, rural water functionality has been one difficult task. This is the reason national functionality stands at 85%. According to the Ministry of Water and Environment (April 2020), water access rates in Uganda varies from 32% in Kyegegwa district to 95% in Pader district.
Uganda has 132,358 domestic water points which serve a total of 27,213,806 people – 22,214,474 in rural areas. The Ministry reports that additional 5,312 sources have been non-functional for more than five years and are considered abandoned while the nation has 1,211 piped schemes.
With the national water access at 67%, urban and rural water functionality at 86% and 85% respectively, the nation must act to address these gaps immediately. Imagine the thousands of dollars’ worth of investments abandoned at each district in the name of non-functionality.
While the national access is 67%, rural access is 68% and urban access stands at 62% only. It’s distinctly a more difficult time for the urban poor at this time in our history.
Let me share with you some district water related statistics for Lango sub-region.
Source: Ministry of Water and Environment
Access to safe water is the ratio of people served by a safe water point
and piped water supply to the total population.
The calculation is based on an estimated number of people per water point type. Maximum access rate can be 95%.
Functionality is the ratio of functional water sources to all water sources. Sources not operating for five or more years are assumed to be abandoned, and hence are not included in the calculation.
As GLOFORD partners with SNV Netherlands to address water governance issues through Improvement of rural Water supply system and management at 650 water points in Lira, Alebtong and Kole districts, a time like this poses a great risk to water access because operation and management (O & M) is now compromised, given the liquidity challenge. The people who collect 1000 Uganda shilling to support maintenance are now out of economic activity and basically engaged in their gardens.
As a nation, we are promoting social distancing as one of the preventive antidotes against COVID 19 spread. But the question is, how prepared is the water sector and local governments to act on strengthening rural water supply system and access? With the estimated number of 250-300 people accessing water from one water point source, how is this strategy implementable?
I implore government of Uganda at central and local government levels to focus on immediate financing options to address rural water supply so that we avert human suffering from lack of safe water access at this time. This is why the government must allocate resources to support O & M of all water point sources to guarantee continuous flow of safe water at rural level so citizens can access clean and safe water.
Finally, a multi-stakeholder response to COVID 19 must be embraced. It would be a great mistake if water departments, agriculture etc., are not acting together with the health teams at all levels of government to avert the coming economic and social challenges ahead of us. God bless us all
My Country, My Duty
For God and My Country
The writer is the President/CEO of GLOFORD Uganda, also doubles as;
The Board Chairman of GLCSMS LLC & TND News