LIRA-The Ministry of Water and Environment with support from the German government-owned development bank KfW on Thursday launched a new phase III of water and sanitation project worth sh46b for refugee host communities in northern Uganda.
With KfW contributing eight million Euros (about Sh35m) and government of Uganda 2.5 Euro (about Sh11b) towards the project, selected refugee hosting communities in the region are expected to get sufficient, safe and sustainable supply of water and appropriate sanitation.
The project also aims to better the health situation of the population in the Programme area and, enhance the capacities of the water supply infrastructure, supporting both hosting communities and refugees settlement areas.
The principle engineer at the Ministry of Water and Environment Eng Joshua Senengo who represented the commissioner shake hands with Arua deputy RDC Alice Akello soon after launching the phase III of KfW support
The three year project with one year defects notification period starts April 2018 to April 2021.
Activities to be financed include, construction, rehabilitation and expansion of water supply systems and public sanitation facilities (including faecal sludge treatment facilities) in small towns, rural growth centers and neighbouring refugee settlements from which both the hosting community and the refugees are benefiting and provision of equipment for operation and maintenance of the systems.
The KfW project consultant Konstantin Rqts said three years is needed to ensure the systems are in place.
In his presentation to stakeholders drawn from the benefiting districts, Konstantin said small towns and rural growth centres within the refugee host districts to benefit are Yumbe, Adjumani, Nebbi, Gulu, Kitgum, Koboko, Arua, Moyo, Lamwo and Amuru with selected small towns / rural growth centres of Bibia/Elegu, Atiak, Moyo, Padibe, and Odramacaku targeted.
He said the Ministry of Water and Environment through the Water and Sanitation Development Facility-North (WSDF-N) shall be responsible for the implementation of the Programme
The issue of operation and maintenance of the sub-projects shall be the responsibly for the Umbrella Organisation North or the National Water and Sewerage Corporation respectively
The principle engineer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, Eng. Joshua Senengo who represented the commissioner Urban Water and Sanitation said the refugee hosting communities in the country have also been the same communities that endured the period that there was insurgency in the region.
"Just as they started gaining ground in terms of access to resources such as water, the influx of refugees stretched the meagre resources we have," he said. He said there have been refugees coming from Congo and South Sudan.
Senengo applauded other donors such as ADB, EU, GIZ and World Bank who are helping the ministry in other areas. "As a country we do not have enough resources to provide for every need of every Ugandan but we limp on as we continue to get support from various donors."
He said the long term goal of the Government has always been to have 100% coverage by 2040 but due to the challenges, they can only move slowly.
"We can only try to move closer to our target because the resources needed in terms of human and finances are quite enormous," he said.
He said the urban water coverage stands at 75% and for rural water coverage at 70%.
Reaction from leaders
William Komakech, the Resident District Commissioner of Moyo said the host communities living nearer to refugee settlements are bitter that the refugees are living better than them. He said there was a huge demonstration in Itula sub county over clean water because the facility constructed 10 years ago broke down yet piped water was constructed in the settlement.
Arua LCV chairperson Sam Nyakua said the water tariff being charged by National Water and Sewerage Corporation is very high in the district forcing many people to abandon using tap water.
Solomon James Ochola of Padibe town council in Lamwo district raised concern that since the area is now a town, the issue of a person first having a pit latrine to benefit from the connection should be revised.