The current government funding to the ministry ibeing in the range of sh600b
The ministry for water and environment used Thursday's Global Handwashing Day to call for increased funding to the sector to enable all Ugandans have access to clean water.
During the event for celebrating the Global Handwashing Day which was held at the ministry's headquarters at Luzira under the theme of Hand Hygiene for All, Eng. Joseph Oriono Eyatu, the commissioner for rural water supply and sanitation emphasized the need to increase the ministry's budget 9 times from the current budget to enable them expeditiously cover the whole country with clean water supply.
With the current government funding to the ministry being in the range of sh600b, it means the ministry wants its budget to be raised to sh5.4trillion.
Whereas the ministry of water and environment estimates clean water coverage to be at 68%, many other stakeholders including the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga have contested the figures arguing that since most rural areas lack clean water the percentage must be lower.
Eng. Oriono expressed optimism that the budget will most likely be increased after a recent engagement they had with the Parliamentary Forum on Water and Sanitation during which legislators resolved to push for increased funding to the sector.
According to both the Budget Act and Public Finance Management Act, Parliament has the mandate to determine how much resources can be allocated to which sector.
Eng. Oriono explained that the country will save a lot of money and lives by ensuring that all citizens have access to clean water and are sensitized on regular hygiene practices like hand washing.
Emphasizing the need to promote the culture of hand washing among Ugandans, the commissioner noted that non-communicable diseases can be reduced by 70% through the practice of hand washing.
UNICEF's Wash Manager Shiva Sing said embracing the culture of hand washing can reduce diseases by between 30% and 40%.
"We don't need COVID-19 to remind us about the importance of hand washing in preventing diseases. It should be our way of life. There is need for more resources to be allocated towards water and sanitation," Shiva stated.
The Executive Director of Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET), Yunia Musisi Musaazi said, "We join other stakeholders to advocate for more financing for the water and sanitation sector because a big population Ugandans doesn't have access to clean water."
Musaazi emphasized the need for intensified sensitization of Ugandans on handwashing, a collaboration between government and the civil society, and enactment of bylaws by local governments to promote sanitation practices like hand washing.
The Managing Director of Uniliver Uganda, Joan Mukasa, attributed the high mortality rate in Uganda to illnesses arising out of poor hygiene.
Emphasizing the need for frequent washing of hand and using of soap on other hygiene needs, Mukasa noted that whereas each individual is supposed to use a minimum of 20 bars of soap annually, 1.5million Ugandans use only 8 bars each annually.
Drawing from a survey that was carried out by the ministry, Eng. Sam Mutono, the chairperson of the National Hand Washing Initiative, pointed out that only 14% Ugandan adults wash their hands after going to toilets and only 19% wash their hands after cleaning their children's "bottoms."
This, Eng. Mutono explained, is the reason why on average over 32500 Uganda children are lost (die) annually to diseases arising out of not washing hands.