March 31, 2015

East African Community Parliament to Start Forum on Climate Change

Adella Mbabazi
March 31, 2015

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has agreed to form a regional Parliamentary Forum on Climate Change.

The proposal was made during a policy dialogue on Climate Change and Gender for members of EALA to identify the role of parliamentarians in implementation of gender sensitive climate change policies.

Flags for East Africa Community Countries

Flags for East Africa Community Countries

The dialogue held on 27th and 28th March, 2015 in Bujumbura, Burundi, was organized by the EAC Secretariat in partnership with the EALA Women Forum. It was also attended by the EALA Committee on Agriculture, Tourism and Natural Resources and the General Purpose Committee.

“We need to establish a parliamentary forum on Climate Change for EALA so that it can feed into the global parliamentary forum and also provide leadership in the regional framework on climate change,” said MP Abubakar Zein. The resolution on this proposal will be passed during the next EALA sitting in May.

The impact of Climate Change is most severe for the world’s poor and marginalized communities who often live in stressed environments and have fewer means for coping. Women are especially vulnerable because of their limited access, control and ownership over resources, unequal participation in decision and policy-making, lower incomes and levels of formal education and high workloads.

As such climate change impacts men and women in different ways and interventions aimed at addressing climate change impacts must include a gender perspective.

Valerie Nyirahabineza, the leader, EALA Women Forum, stressed that Africa is most vulnerable to climate change and noted that the region’s communities and governments are sometimes constrained to handle challenges of climate change. “Women play a critical role in food and nutrition security and are also responsible for growing, buying, selling, and cooking the food.

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Climate change is behind the increasing frequency of extreme weather hazards in Africa

Majority of food produced in developing countries is by women, yet only 2% of land is owned by women,” she said. She added that there was need for the legislators to address the underlying causes of gender inequality such as unequal land rights and land tenure through legislative reforms.

Speaking during the same session, MP Dora Byamukama noted, “Unless women feel secure as users and owners of land, there will always be a problem of climate change.”

The parliamentarians agreed that climate change be considered in the EAC Partner States budgeting process, and pledged to make individual contributions to the Fund. The Climate Change Fund was established in 2011.

March 29, 2015

Kenya: Water Stressed Farmers Turn to Groundwater Dams to Survive

Mary Mwendwa
March 29, 2015

Matwiku village horticulture farmers in Laikipia County of Kenya can now breathe a sigh of relief after a water harvesting technology came to their rescue.

Through constructing dams that save water for domestic and farm use, they are able to meet their water needs despite water challenges facing the county. Kamwenje and millima Tatu hills are the main catchments for the water supply in the village.

A Water Dam in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Water Dam in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

According to Peter Ngugi, chairperson, Matwiku Self Help Group, “Dam water harvesting technology has seen this area of Matwiku remain food secure. Laikipia is generally a dry place and therefore issues of water shortage are not any news. My group, we use drip irrigation that has seen us use less water in the farm where we grow onion, tomatoes , bananas and other horticulture crops.”

Ngugi also points out that some dams have run dry in recent times. He gives an example of a dam that has existed since colonial times, Kariaine Dam.

“Last year saw a revolution in this village, we recorded the highest number of farmers who ventured in horticulture farming, and many of them pump water using generators to their farms, and maybe this is what has contributed to the drying of this Dam. This was the only permanent water source here; we are mobilizing farmers and educating them on how to use water sustainably by using drip irrigation.”

The group has a one acre of land which was installed with a water pumping system using fuel that cost them around 360,000 thousand Kenyan shillings , donated to them by partners to run the horticulture project.

Ngugi appreciates the fact that as a group they have had to face some challenges which have proved a learning experience to them.

“We used to share a dam nearby and at some point we were kicked out because the original owners of the dam divided days for water supply and we were left hanging. This made us think and come to a conclusion to dig our own dam where we will have continuous water supply with no interference,” notes Ngugi.

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

A Farmer Irrigates his Crops in Matwiku village of Laikipia County in Kenya

During a farmers’ field day where over 100 farmers gathered to interact and learn from experts about farming, it emerged that there was need for more education on how farmers and their households can use the little water they have sustainably.

One by one each speaker called on proper water management to avoid wastage during this time of drought.

Celina Njeri, a resident at Makwitu village says that she has seen many dams dry in the last ten years of her stay.

“Those people who don’t use drip irrigation end up drying the dams very fast, we are happy here because since the drip irrigation system was introduced we enjoy continuous flow of water.”

Washington Ngare, Extension Agricultural Extension Officer, Mithiga Ward views the water harvesting technology of using dams as a savoir to Laikipia residents.

“This is a dry region by nature, but something encouraging our farmers are tapping into innovations that would help them cope with changing climatic conditions. Like now it is very dry, signs of drought knocking, but we have some dams with water.”

Ngare cites the biggest challenge farmers face in the region as human wildlife conflict and soil health status.

“Many farmers do not test their soil samples to know what kind of fertilizer to use, and this has made some farmers record loses. We are encouraging them as a ministry of Agriculture to take their soil for testing to understand its status,” he recommends.

March 25, 2015

Uganda Hails Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia for Reaching Agreement on River Nile Water Use

Adella Mbabazi
March 25, 2015

Uganda has congratulated Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan for reaching an agreement on the construction of a mega dam on the Ethiopian portion of River Nile.

Uganda’s message was carried by the premier Dr Ruhakana Rugunda who represented President Yoweri Museveni to witness the signing ceremony on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, held in Khartoum, Sudan on 23 March 2015.

Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr Rugunda (right) shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, while Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn (left) and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (second right) look on in Khartoum

Uganda’s Prime Minister Dr Rugunda (right) shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, while Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn (left) and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (second right) look on in Khartoum

River Nile’s water resources are shared by eleven countries that include Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.

“Uganda salutes the brotherly leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt for coming to this historic agreement. President Yoweri Museveni has been following, with keen interest, the negotiations among the three countries and is happy that they have come to a productive end,” Dr Rugunda said.

The agreement of principles was signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The agreement paves way for the completion of the construction of the 6,000 Megawatt Dam on River Nile by Ethiopia—a move that has been a source of acrimony by the other countries in the Nile basin, notably, Egypt.

“Uganda is pleased that the utilisation of the waters of River Nile which sometimes has been a cause of conflict, has now, through this cooperation agreement become a source of unity. Cooperation among the countries that share the basin of River Nile is the only sure way of deriving mutual benefits to drive development in our countries and improve the livelihoods of our citizens,” Dr Rugunda added.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said:
“I confirm the construction of the Renaissance dam will not cause any damage to our three states and especially to the Egyptian people.”

Egypt, which relies heavily on river Nile waters for domestic, industrial and agriculture feared that the Grand Renaissance dam would reduce its water supply.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said: “This is a framework agreement and it will be completed. We have chosen cooperation, and to trust one another for the sake of development.”

Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, hailed the deal and expressed his country’s commitment to cooperation with countries of the Nile Basin to reach plausible agreements:
“By signing this agreement, we confirm our commitment to pursue further detailed agreements that organize relations among the Nile Basin countries,” said Al-Bashir.

Once completed, the 6,000 MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, will be the largest in Africa.

March 25, 2015

Global Sanitation Experts Hail Madagascar Roadmap to become Open-Defecation Free Nation by 2019

WaterSan Perspective
March 25, 2015

A high-level delegation of global sanitation and hygiene experts is in Madagascar for the biannual Steering Committee meeting of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a United Nations body devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of vulnerable and marginalized people around the world.

WSSCC Logo

WSSCC Logo

During the visit, the Steering Committee will see WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) programme in Madagascar, locally known as the Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement (FAA), in action. Developed and guided strategically by a diverse group of national stakeholders, the FAA is facilitated by Medical Care Development International (MCDI) and implemented by 30 sub-grantee organisations.

It has evolved into a driving force in the national movement to end open defecation, which adversely affects the health, livelihood and educational opportunities for 10 million people in Madagascar and some 1 billion worldwide.

The five-day Steering Committee visit is dedicated to reinforcing the country’s top-level political commitment to a new “National Road Map” for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector that aims to end open defecation in Madagascar by 2019. Madagascar’s most senior politicians, including President Hery Rajaonarimampianina, Prime Minister Jean Ravelonarivo, the President of the National Assembly, and Dr. Johanita Ndahimananjara, Minister of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, have committed their support to achieving open-defecation free (ODF) status.

“Since 2010, Madagascar has made tremendous progress in ensuring access to basic sanitation for the rural population of the country, by introduction and scaling up of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS),” says Dr. Chris W. Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC. “Nearly 1.4 million people now live free of open defecation in over 10,900 communities throughout the country, one of the best examples of how individual and local initiative can lead to collective, transformative change for an entire country.”

The visit also coincides with heightened global awareness of sanitation in 2015. The United Nations Secretary General and Deputy-Secretary General have launched a Call to Action on Sanitation, encouraging global institutions, governments, households, the private sector, NGOs, and Parliamentarians, to eradicate the practice of open defecation.

A latrine in rural Uganda.  The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

A latrine in rural Uganda. The world remains behind in providing universal access to safe and hygienic toilets.

“FAA has become an important catalyst for the initiation and creation of a national, regional and local movement in favour of eliminating open defecation,” says Dr. Rija Lalanirina Fanomeza, GSF Programme Manager, MCDI. “A wide spectrum of sanitation and hygiene stakeholders in Madagascar are actively collaborating to have maximum impact on the ground.”

Ever since President Rajaonarimampianina’s government came into power in January 2014, sanitation has received special attention, and the need for achieving an open-defecation free Madagascar has been considered inevitable by the highest political leadership of the nation.

During the visit, the delegation will visit villages which are now free of open defecation, and those that are not, in order to gain a firsthand understanding of the how and why people change and sustain their sanitation and hygiene behaviours.

March 25, 2015

Journalists Start West Africa’s 1st Online Newspaper on Climate Change

WaterSan Perspective
March 25, 2015

West Africa’s first online newspaper dedicated to opening new panoramas in the coverage and reportage of climate change and the region’s environment has been launched.

The online newspaper (www.climatereporters.com), which was launched over the weekend In Republic of Benin, Cote d’Ívoire and Nigeria simultaneously in commemoration of the 2015 International Francophonie Day envisions an informed, environment-friendly and climate-conscious citizenry living in a safe and serene West African environment, free from climate disasters and environmental despoliation.

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Farmers worldwide are already feeling the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent droughts as a result of climate change

Speaking at the launch, the medium’s Editor-in-Chief, Atâyi Babs revealed that the newspaper is “dedicated to bringing fresh, crisp and engaging climate reports from all over the world to West Africa, using the region’s finest blend of climate story tellers to enhance understanding and engender climate action across the region.”

“We are change catalysts, bringing international climate reports to every doorstep in West Africa at the same time taking the West African climate story to the world,”Atayi added.

The launch of the newspaper on the International Francophonie Day which is observed within La Francophonie’s 77 member states in celebration of the French language and Francophone culture and the signing of the Niamey Convention on 20th March 1970 which established the Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, reinforces the new medium’s capacity to reflect the rich linguistic and cultural diversity of West Africa. The newspaper is published online, real-time in English and French simultaneously.

With a multilingual team of talented reporters from across the region, ClimateReporters provides an interesting mix of environmental news stories and an imperative source of environmental information and opinion.

The medium aspires not only to focus on the big stories but also seek out some of more unusual and controversial environmental issues from around the world.

Speaking at the launch in Abidjan, Alain Landry Zahoré, the Cote d’Ivoire Bureau Chief disclosed that with special pull-out categories on climate change, sustainable development, road to Paris, energy, WASH, land, forests and health, ClimateReporters will focus attention on the present and future environmental issues facing the health of the planet and West Africa in particular.

March 23, 2015

Nigeria: WaterAid Launches Massive WASH Campaign

Adella Mbabazi
March 23, 2015

The WaterAid has launched a new four-year “Healthy Start” campaign showing the devastating impact that a lack of safe water and sanitation has on the health of children in developing countries.

The launch was part of activities commemorating the 2015 World Water Day, held yesterday March 22 under the theme ‘Water and Sustainable Development.’

In 2015, the theme for World Water Day is 'Water and Sustainable Development'. It’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider creating the future we want according to UN Water - See more at: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/about/en/#sthash.bXuOPxnw.dpuf

In 2015, the theme for World Water Day is ‘Water and Sustainable Development’. It’s about how water links to all areas we need to consider creating the future we want according to UN Water – See more at: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/about/en/#sthash.bXuOPxnw.dpuf

The briefing “Healthy Start: the first month of life” shows that annually nearly half a million babies die in the first month of life because they are born into unhygienic conditions and one in five deaths of newborn babies in the developing world are caused by infections strongly linked to dirty water or unhygienic conditions. In Nigeria, nearly 52,000 newborn babies died from sepsis, tetanus and other infections linked to dirty water and lack of hygiene in 2013 alone.

The goal for “Healthy Start” is that decision leaders and policy makers ensure that survival rates and health outcomes are improved for children by integrating water, sanitation and hygiene within their policies, activities and rhetoric. It in particular aims at making sure that the health sector joins with the water and sanitation sector in delivering water, sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 as an essential requirement for increasing the numbers of children who have healthy childhoods, better prospects for healthy lives and for leaving poverty behind.

The campaign launches as a recently released World Health Organization report reveals that nearly half of hospitals and clinics in Africa do not have access to clean water. And of the 58% of healthcare facilities that have some access, only half are able to count on a safe and reliable supply of clean water.

The World Health Organization report “Water, sanitation and hygiene in health care facilities: status in low and middle income countries and way forward” shows that across 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, access to water in healthcare facilities is as low as 20%. It is the first survey of its kind and shows that in the 54 developing countries studied, 38% of healthcare facilities do not have clean water and 19% do not have safe toilets. Over a third (35%) of hospitals and clinics did not have anywhere for staff or patients to wash their hands with soap.

The WaterAid briefing highlights the risks presented to babies by healthcare facilities that do not offer a hygienic birth environment. It outlines measures needed to ensure that every healthcare facility has clean running water, safe toilets and sinks with soap available to staff and patients.

Dr. Michael Ojo, WaterAid Nigeria’s Country Representative says, “Being born into unhygienic conditions condemns too many babies in the Nigeria and the developing world to a tragically early and avoidable death and their parents to needless heartbreak. Tragically for these one in five babies who die in their first month in the developing world, just being washed in clean water and cared for in a clean environment by people who had washed their hands could have prevented their untimely deaths. We want the global community to commit to ensuring everyone has access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.”

Diarrhoea is the second biggest child killer in Nigeria and nearly 100,000 children under the age of five die of diarrhoea in Nigeria every year as a result of the nation’s poor levels of access to water and sanitation.

March 23, 2015

Kenya: Turkana Residents Grapple with Water Shortage and Cattle Raids

Wesley Lang’at
March 23, 2015

For many years northern parts of Kenya, primarily inhabited by pastoralists, has been prone to inter-communal resource conflict and cattle raids.

According to a research done by Practical Action, up to 164,457 people have fled their homes as a result of conflicts associated with fighting for diminishing water and pastures.

The reports further states that 70% of the displaced are women and children aged below 14 years.

It’s a hot sunny afternoon in Katilu village, Turkana South; parents are sitting under the shade waiting for their children to go fetch water at river Turkwel.

For decades Katilu village has experienced water shortage thus forcing residents to walk five kilometers to Turkwel River, the only water source that serves the entire region.

Consequently this has negatively impacted on the education system in the pastoralists’ area as students have been forced to abandon afternoon classes in pursuit of the scarce commodity.

“We have a lot of problems with water since last year but now it’s worse because we spend a lot of time looking for water rather than going to classes,” narrates one of the students.

Children of Katilu Primary school in Kenya fetching water at River Turkwel

Children of Katilu Primary school in Kenya fetching water at River Turkwel

The students are forced to walk long distance in pursuit of water despite the danger of being attacked by raiders.

“This place is so insecure. One of my students was shot dead by the raiders and since then parents, teachers and Kenya police reservists always accompany students to the river to fetch water,” says Katilu Primary School deputy Head teacher Mathew Karing’a.

He adds that the water conflict has impacted negatively on the population of the school as scarcity of water has forced some of the students to opt out of class in pursuit of water.

“In the past we had a population of 1036 pupils but now the number has immensely decreased, they are moving from Katilu to areas where they can get water and pastures, they are relocating to Kanawadong,” Karing’a notes.

John Ekal, a resident of Katilu, says it is very disheartening as children are looking for water in dangerous places rather than being in class.

“In this school there are no afternoon classes; children spend most of their time looking for water seven kilometers away from school,” Ekal laments.

Asked about the education status in his jurisdiction, Turkana South District Education Officer Dickson Ogwang confirms that most of the schools in his area occasionally closed due to insecurity.

“I have seen the insecurity issue impacting very negatively on learning because sometimes it becomes intolerable and schools have to close,” Ogwang elaborates.

The ever rising insecurity and the lack of water forced some of the residents like Paul Ikenye to shift their livelihood to neighboring Uganda.

“We have taken all our livestock to our brothers Matheniko in Uganda because there is peace, water and grasses. But here in Turkana there is no pasture and no peace,” Ikenye said.

It’s not only water and cattle rustling that makes Katilu area prone to insecurity, according to Catholic Diocese of Nakwamuru Turkana South priest Augustine Emathe unclear boundaries between the two warring communities contributes to the violence as they compete over the control of water points.

“Government should clearly demarcate boundaries between these people and increases security personnel in this area,” Emathe urges.

March 15, 2015

SADC Embarks On Conducting Water Weeks in Member States

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
March 15, 2015

The Water Sector of the Southern African Development (SADC) has embarked on holding of three-day-long SADC National Water Weeks in each Member State to gather input towards the formulation of the fourth phase of the Regional Water Programme.

According to Barbara Lopi, Communications and Awareness Expert for the Water Sector at SADC Secretariat, the SADC National Water Weeks aim to demonstrate to Member States the value of their cooperation under the SADC umbrella by clearly articulating the benefits each Member State has enjoyed in the three phases of the Water Programme since 1999.

Clean water shortage affects the lives of individuals and the vitality of entire communities

Clean water shortage affects the lives of individuals and the vitality of entire communities

The SADC Water Programme has been implemented in five year phases normally called Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) on Integrated Water Resources Management and Development. The first phase of RSAP commenced its implementation in 1999 and ended in 2004. The second phase was implemented from 2005 to 2010, while the third phase runs from 2011 to 2015.

Jointly organised by SADC and the Ministry responsible for Water in the Member States in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership Southern Africa office, the SADC National Water Weeks will be held between March and July 2015.

The first Water Week took place in Dar es -Salaam Tanzania from 11 – 13 March 2015, with the next two being in Malawi and Zimbabwe from 17 – 18 March and from 18 – 20 March respectively.

Held under the theme “From Vision to Action”, the Water Weeks will also sensitize Journalists to report on water issues as well as empower the youths to participate in water programmes and development through media and youth workshops according to Lopi.

The SADC National Water Weeks are funded by the Government of Germany in delegated cooperation with the Governments of Australia (AUSaid) and the United Kingdom (UKaid) managed by GIZ.

March 15, 2015

Malawi: Minister Urges Increased Funding for Water

George Mhango
March 15, 2015

Concerned with how weeds have blocked water pumps in Liwonde, Malawi’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water development Allan Chiyembekeza says there is need for improved budget allocation towards the department of water during the 2015/2016 national budget.

The increased funding, according to the minister is justifiable in the sense that authorities and government partners would be able to deal with weeds at Liwonde Water Supply Plant intake, which also affect power generation at Nkula and Kapichira Hydro Power plants.

In several communities in Africa, in order to get water, many women and children walk for hours a day, lining up to collect water from the few public taps and wells that aren't dry

In several communities in Africa, in order to get water, many women and children walk for hours a day, lining up to collect water from the few public taps and wells that aren’t dry

Chiyembekeza said this during a familiarisation tour to Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) offices, intakes at Mulunguzi Dam and Liwonde Water Supply plant.

“I have seen for myself and the situation is terrible because water supply in the region is being compromised. People cannot access water due to the problem. As government, we are seriously looking at this problem of weeds and silt because our equipment is damaged,” he said.

Chiyembekeza said, while weeds have damaged equipment at Liwonde and other places down the Shire River, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment too, is affected because the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) also faces similar challenge.

“These weeds in the end contribute to blackouts not only water shortages. It is a serious challenge that I have seen and calls for teamwork between the two ministries (ministries of Agriculture, Water and that of Natural Resources, Energy and Environment),” he said.

Chiyembekeza hinted that since his ministry has three big departments and even more, it would be his wish to see to it that more funds are channelled to the ministry to contain challenges on the ground.

“If you put the entire three departments, you obviously talk about a huge budget which we have to ask for during the pre-budget consultations for easy implementation of the various programmes we have,” he said, adding that other water boards would also benefit.

According to him, the introduction of the Shire River Basin by government and other water- related projects by local organisations is a move towards the right direction.

March 3, 2015

Uganda Minister Urges Change of Mindset to Realize Human Right to Water and Sanitation

Fredrick Mugira
March 03, 2015

In January 2015, over 300 people converged in Zaragoza, Spain to take part in the International Annual UN–Water Zaragoza Conference.

The conference was used as an occasion for analyzing of water-related SDGs and the role of the different actors for their implementation. While addressing the participants, Leo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Right to Water and Sanitation called for deference and implementation of access to safe water and sanitation as a human right.

To find out what safe water and sanitation as a human right means to governments and people in developing countries, Fredrick Mugira interviewed Uganda’s minister for water and environment Professor Ephraim Kamuntu. Prof. Kamuntu is a Ugandan economist and politician.

Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment. Photo by: WSSCC ‏@WatSanCollabCou

Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda’s Minister for Water and Environment. Photo by: WSSCC ‏@WatSanCollabCou

Question: Why would you considered access to safe water and sanitation a human right?
Answer:
Without water which is the basic necessitate for your life, you can’t survive. For all your joints and bones to turn, it is because they are lubricated with water and water takes oxygen to almost every cell in your body. As a result of the centrality of water in your life, anyone who denies you access to water denies you access to life. That is why it is taken as a human right and when you are treating accessibility to water, you treat it as if indeed to deny it you have violated the very existence of the human.

Question: What does the human right to water and sanitation mean to people in developing countries? Will this translate into increased demand for water and subsequent water access?

Answer: Yes. You know why they don’t demand for it, it is because in their head, water comes as rain and rain comes from heaven and it is God given so if it is God given whom are you going to ask? May be you pray to God for rain, but the time is going to come when local people shall demand for their right to water and sanitation.

Question: What should governments and people in developing countries do to realize the human rights to water and sanitation?

Answer: Given the centrality of water and sanitation, the first priority of government in its budget should be defence and water. Defense because without peace everything else breaks down but with peace, your next priority should be water. Because first for your own human survive, secondly because of its centrality to the rest of the economy.

Using the example of Uganda, if you harvested surface water that runs during rainy season, if you harvested rain running off the roofs of these houses plus piped water plus shallow wells plus boreholes plus gravity water, you would get 100 percent water coverage in this country, I have no doubt in my mind. But the mindset must be addressed that this can be done both at individual level, household as well as institutional level and government. Secondly as a result of this mindset, there is low prioritization of water when it comes to funding within even the machinery of government, why because people take water for granted. They don’t put there money. As a ministry we have been getting three percent of the total budget over the years.

Question: Why is access to water so important in the growth of developing countries?
Answer:
Water is essential for your human survival as a human being but equally important water is at the center of every development agenda across sectors. Agriculture which is the backbone of our economy, simply the production and productivity in agriculture is dependent on availability of water. Livestock, all these animals, anything animal can only survive if it has water and when it comes to industry, agro processing, I will tell you an example; to process one liter of milk in some dairy factories in Uganda, you need 40 liters of water indicating to you that industrialization and agro processing of these countries critically depends on availability of water. Fishing, tourism, health, mention it, all need water. Then the other pillar which is environmental, the environment which is the linkage that links with the rest is dependent on the availability of water. Wetlands, shorelines, lakes that is nothing but water.

Question: How is lack of water access affecting productivity of third world countries?
Answer:
For instance in Uganda right now, we have to types of populations affected differently. We have the urban population. In urban population most people have access to water. In fact we put the distance of accessing water in urban areas at 0.2 kilometers. 77 percent of Uganda’s urban population has water. When you go to rural areas and the statistics we use is one kilometer distance to water source. Here 65 percent has access to water. 35 percent will have to walk more than one kilometer to get to the source of water. It is not that they don’t have water but they will have to walk more distance to get it. The implication of that, 35 percent of 35 million Ugandans is almost 12 million. Your 12 million people have to trek more than one kilometer to get to the water source every day. Now if 35 percent of your population is simply spending nearly 80 percent of their time fetching water, when will you have any time to do productive work? This is partly why Uganda remains a third world country because a lot of it population are still having no access to water.

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