The ill costs of not giving WASH priority in national planning


Washiing hands with clean water and soap is healthy. Photo by UNICEF

“No resources have been allocated by the government to WASH as far as Covid-19 interventions into long-lasting solution in addressing WASH is concerned,” Mr Denis Kayiwa, Program Advisor, WaterAid said last year during the 2nd e-Conference on WASH held at Hotel Africana, Kampala.

Oyam—1, February 2021: About 650 million people; 1 in 10 globally lacks access to safe drinking water and 2.36 billion, also around 1 in 3 of the world’s population have no access to improved sanitation.

Failing to ensure access to water and sanitation has immense human costs, both in social and economic terms.

Preventable diseases caused by unsafe water and sanitation kill approximately 10,000 people every day, Uganda Parliamentary Forum on WASH (UPF-WASH), said in its WASH Briefing Paper No.001 of 2020.

The document also revealed that almost 5000 children under the age of 5. “More than 2.5 billion people globally live without basic sanitation facilities.”

In 2012, a study conducted by the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank revealed that poor sanitation costs Uganda shs389 billion each year, an equivalent to US$177million.

The same study also revealed that the figure is equivalent to US$5.5 per person in Uganda per year or 1.1% of the national GDP.

According to UPF-WASH, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are essential for human life, dignity, empowerment and prosperity. “They are human rights, fundamental to everyone.”

The Constitution of Uganda recognises education, health and water as basic rights as stated in objective XVIII, XX and XXI which the state is obliged to protect and fulfil.

The WaterAid study of 2014 reveals that girls in schools suffer most from stigma and lack of services and facilities to help them cope with physical and psychological pains they undergo during menstrual periods.

The study additionally indicates that inadequate access to clean water to clean and wash the body and lack of materials for managing menstrual hygiene is among other problems.

“An estimated 40% of the girls (then) undergo menstruation but with no provisions for private or washing rooms and disposal places of materials for sued pads. That aside, the Universal Primary Education (UPE) capitation grant does not have a provision for menstruation and hygiene management (MHM) whose costs are largely met by the schools already constrained with operational costs including the provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene,” the WaterAid study further reveals.

“No resources have been allocated by the government to WASH as far as Covid-19 interventions into long-lasting solution in addressing WASH is concerned,” Mr Denis Kayiwa, Program Advisor, WaterAid said last year during the 2nd e-Conference on WASH held at Hotel Africana, Kampala.

Speaker of Parliament, Rt Hon. Alitwala Kadaga was applauded for being a champion of WASH. This praise was made by many participants, but most notably, Hon. Jackline Amongin, UPF-WASH Chair.

The speaker, in her opening remark, emphasised needs for handwashing and good hygiene, adding that the issue of water is ‘a national security’. Read more: Wash investment in Uganda

ALSO READ:

 UPF-WASH last year says “Investing in WASH remains critical in achieving Uganda’s Vision2040 a transformed Uganda society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years.”

In making this possible, UPF-WASH says it’s conceptualised around strengthening the fundamentals of the economy to harness the abundant opportunities in the country.

A report by Human Development of 2006 said limited prioritisation of WASH was one of the many key factors to poor economic growth in Uganda as it led to poor health deaths in some instances.

The same report also said access to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation reduces health risks and frees up time for education and other productive activities, as well as increases productivity of the labour force.

To attain the Vision2040, the members of parliament on WASH want legislators and decision-makers at different levels to prioritise WASH as a critical issue that requires common but differentiated responsibilities.

“Government should put into practise its global and regional commitments on WASH including those made at the Africasan 2015 Ngor declaration on sanitation and hygiene.”


Previous Secrets why George Henry Izaale, the longest serving Jinja councillor keeps winning elections
Next Okot Boniface elected Northern Uganda youth MP