FIVE districts in south-western Uganda are faced with a looming water crisis. The emerging crisis follows the drop in water levels of River Rwizi over environmental degradation and climate change.
If it does not rain soon, water pipes at both Mbarara supply plants will have no water to pump from River Rwizi, the main source of water in Mbarara, Bushenyi, Ntungamo, Isingiro and Kiruhuura districts. Rwizi is a tributary of Lake Victoria.
According to the water quality control officer for the National Water and Sewerage Corperation, Christopher Kanyesigye, River Rwizi dried up by close to one metre within less than two months, from April to mid-June.
The dropping water level has already constrained water supply. Residents of Katojo, Ngara and Nyakayojo have not received water for some time. In other parts, there is water rationing. Let us create dams along River Rwizi and reserve water for use during dry seasons. The recent eastern floods cleared and left people waterless. That flood water should have been harvested in dikes.
The dirtiness or turbidity of River Rwizi over silt has increased from 30 units to 110 in this dry spell.
This has increased the cost of treating water to the normal unit level which is safe for public consumption.
If the community around Rwizi continues with its â€˜I-donâ€™t-care-attitudeâ€™ about the environment, Mbarara and its surroundings are doomed.
Uganda needs to get serious about its natural resources. The swamp at Busega, Kampala is being reclaimed openly and nobody is bothered. Are the by-laws and national Environmental Act meant to help us or not?
Many people blame the lowering of water levels in River Rwizi on the farmersâ€™ poor farming methods and deforestation. But scientists peg the main cause of the worldwide water crisis to climate change â€” a consequence of green house gas emissions that warm the world. As the climate changes, let us take drastic measures to preserve our environment and its resources.
The writer is an environmental journalist
Five districts affected as River Rwizi drys up