Entebbe, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Vice President of Uganda Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi on Monday officially opened the first-ever Uganda Water and Environment Week in Entebbe at the Directorate of Water Resources.
In his remarks to the various stakeholders, Ssekandi said that access to water remains a challenge in the rural areas despite Uganda having a lots of rivers, lakes and wetlands.
“Uganda has a lot of rivers, lakes and wetlands that cover 18% of Uganda’s land surface, but only 2% of the water is used for production, with only 1% of potential irrigable area,” he noted.
Ssekandi further noted that although agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy accounting for 25% of Gross Domestic Product and employing 70%, the income generated is still significantly lower than other economic activities.
“Among other factors behind low productivity and profitability of Ugandans agriculture, lack of access to water resources,” he observed.
The Vice President assured participants that government recently adopted a National Irrigation Policy and is committed to investing in irrigation infrastructure and to boost commercial farming and transform Uganda from peasant to a modern and country.
Ssekandi explained that to address the water challenges, it requires a holistic approach that considers economics, the environmental and all-inclusive elements.
He called on all stakeholders to all get actively involved in the management of water resources.
“The varying uses of water are interlinked and require sustainable exploitation and management to ensure quality and quantity and availability for both production and domestic use even during the dry season,” he said.
“The financing of water and environmental management cannot be done by government alone but requires the input of all the stakeholders,” he added.
Ssekandi applauded the Ministry of Water and Environment and its partners for having organized the Uganda Water and Environment week event which brought together all key stakeholders to dialogue on issues affecting the sector.
The inaugural Uganda Water and Sanitation Week kicked off in Entebbe with a keynote address delivered by Dr Fred Muhumuza, in which he emphasized the need to invest in water resources management as it impacts on all aspects of the economy.
Muhumuza noted that while there is a seeming increase in public funding towards the water and environment sector, there has not been a corresponding increment in service delivery mainly because there are ever increasing demands for water from different sectors.
“We need to double or even quadruple budgetary allocation to water and environment in order to trigger and support other sectors like manufacturing, transport, tourism, agriculture,” he said.