Equitable water, sanitation funding is key to ending diseases
Publish Date: Jul 14, 2014
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By Simon J. Mone

In November 2013, the Vision Group’s clean town competition resulted in the cleanest and dirtiest towns in Uganda. Findings therein revealed deplorable sanitation of our towns. Naturally, we were expected to respond to this feedback by improving our environmental sanitation.

Surprisingly, hardly a year on, no significant progress has been made, save for a few towns led by Kampala city which has shown great improvement. Cleanliness of countryside towns remains awful. Inhabitants struggle with raw sewage flowing through open channels, back streets are littered. Toilet use is improper and the bush is still being used quite a lot.

UN General Assembly Resolution 64/292 states that access to clean water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. Within our communities, vulnerable people are yet to feel the impact of this resolution. Universal target of achieving adequate supply of water and especially sanitation is far from being attained.

Collective efforts should be increased to provide sanitation access to the World’s less privileged population, which should be enjoying their ‘fundamental right’ to access.

The leading cause of disease and mortality in mostly developing countries has always been linked to the absence of safe water and the lack of good sanitation. Moreover, no one can doubt that continued absence of safe water and good sanitation does not only have a negative impact on health, it leads to food and nutrition problems.

Prioritising proper; garbage management, toilet use, foul water and sewage disposal is vital in improving well-being and health of communities.

Although improvements are being made in hygiene, especially hand washing in schools and human waste disposal, rising population and limited funding hinders impact of these initiatives.

Funding of hygiene-related initiatives is still seen to be much lower than funding of clean and safe water projects. If more funds are committed to sanitation programmes, hygiene practices will become more sustainable.

This is possible, if funding always aims at the best possible ways of integrating hygiene promotion into water supply and sanitation projects.

Development partners have for a long time committed bigger amounts of money towards drilling boreholes, protecting wells and springs, rainwater harvesting in rural areas but little or no money in providing toilets and solid waste disposal systems. The growing populace are constraining existing facilities, hence dysentery and cholera recurrence of the recent past.

We desire to live in clean environments so this is the time to adequately fund sanitation projects. Improvements in sanitation have always been complicated by high population growth and increased urbanisation.

Success in sanitation projects will be attainable, if the Government and development partners support communities in finding an appropriate balance between funding sanitation projects and funding water projects.

Let the funding be provided in equal measure because should clean water be supplied, waste water should expected. Communities in especially rural areas have got to be empowered to have access to potable water and improved sanitation.

Achieving the right balance between water and sanitation will effectively address the problem of diseases and hunger. If communities do not fall sick, they devote more time in doing productive activities. This helps in boosting incomes.

Conversely, when communities have no access to adequate and sustainable sanitation facilities, then most of the time, they will be in and out of hospitals treating sicknesses. They spend most of the time and money to get healthier. In the process they remain less productive.

The writer is a civil engineer

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