By Joseph Wanzusi
THE state minister for water, Jennifer Namuyangu, has urged the public to practice hygiene and proper sanitation in order to control diseases.
According to the health ministry statistics, about 11.2 million people in the country do not have latrines.
Namuyangu said safe water and sanitation issues are not only about disease prevention, but also human dignity.
â€œEasing yourself in the bushes could lead to contracting diseases and even sexual harassment,â€ she warned.
The minister made the observation last week while opening a two-day sanitation workshop at Mt. Elgon Hotel in Mbale town.
The ministry statistics also show that about 0.8 million children in Africa die every year from diarrhoea and dehydration due to poor sanitation.
She urged political leaders to mobilise communities, particularly women groups, to carry out campaigns on sanitation and health education.
The minister called for low-cost septic tanks, cheaper pit emptiers, water treatment methods and the development of biogas technologies to supply poor households with energy.
She challenged district and lower local councils to show exemplary leadership and support towards improvement of sanitation.
The Mbale district chairman, Bernard Mujasi, said enforcing sanitation laws in homes had not succeded because the village leaders were preferred to the district leaders.
Mujasi said in the 1960s and 70s, latrine coverage in the country was over 90% because chiefs had powers to enforce sanitation laws in the communities, unlike today where LC officials just watch the bad situation because they fear to lose their positions during elections.
The workshop participants included district chairpersons, chief administrative officers, education and health inspectors, water officers, community development leaders and from 18 districts in the Busoga, Bukedi, Bugisu and Sebei sub-regions.