Access to safe and clean water has increased within the last four years, but the Ministry of Water and Environment has not hit the pledges on access
KAMPALA - Ugandans will have to wait longer for clean and safe water to be delivered to all by the year 2021, according to the Minister of State for Environment, Beatrice Anywar.
"Our target in the manifesto was to increase access to clean and safe water from the 65% to 79% in rural areas and from 77% to 100% in urban areas by 2021," she said.
She added, "To date, the rural water coverage is estimated at 69% and the urban areas coverage stands at 79.1%."
This means that access to safe and clean water has increased within the last four years, but the Ministry of Water and Environment has not hit the pledges on access to safe and clean water, according to Anywar.
The Minister also pointed out that Government was working towards provision of a water source in every village by 2021.
Anywar was speaking yesterday (Wednesday) during the NRM Manifesto week on implementation of the NRM Manifesto for m2016-2021. She presented on the achievements and challenges in the water and environment sector.
The NRM Manifesto, according to Anywar, is a contract between the people of Uganda and their elected leaders for the period 2016-2021 and beyond. She also pointed out that the Ministry of Water and Environment has delivered 70% of the pledges of President Yoweri Museveni during the campaigns of 2016.
"The safe water coverage has not been as much as we expected," said Anywar, adding that Uganda's population is increasing and the increase has not been matched with investment in the water and sanitation sector.
She also pointed out the high cost of technologies as the second reason why access to safe and clean water has not increased as much as what Uganda's population wants.
"Conditional grants have been stagnant at sh52m for the last 15 years," said Anywar, adding that districts get sh370m for construction of water points and running of the offices and the available resources can only construct four or five boreholes.
"Our obligation as a sector is to work on the unfulfilled commitments within the remaining implementation period," she said.
She added, "As the NRM party approaches the next election phase deliberate effort will be on providing water to the unserved areas and ensure equity in our service delivery to all villages today and in future for transformation and improved livelihoods."
She also pointed out that land disputes in some areas have led to delays in construction of water sources. "To some extent, communities resist construction of water supplies leading to delays," said Anywar. "Some demand exorbitant fees for compensation and this has interrupted the construction of the water sources."
In some cases, the delays in feasibility studies have also affected the construction and completion of large scale projects, according to Anywar.
Destruction of environment
Anywar warned against destruction of the environment pointing out that this is partly to blame for the rising water levels of Lake Victoria and Lake Kyoga.
"The destruction of the wetlands increases the risks of flooding and this is mostly taking place in the urban areas," according to Anywar. She said the wetlands were being restored particularly in the countryside.
As part of the challenges of environment management, Anywar said 90% of the population relies on charcoal and firewood which has resulted into destruction of the environment particularly forests.
Forest cover rises by 2.4%
The destruction of forest has led the forest cover to decline to less than 10% by 2015 as opposed to 24% in 1990. Two years ago, the forest cover was estimated at 11%.
"The forest cover has increased from 11% to 12.4%," said Tom Okello, the executive director of the National Forestry Authority.
This, according to Okello means that deforestation has been halted. The increase, according to Okello is as a result of tree planting and particularly commercial tree planting.