Museveni, experts call for holistic approach to deal with sector challenges
Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | What would it take to improve water access, sanitation in most African countries that are essentially poor?
This is one question that came up during the 20th Water and Sanitation International Congress and Exhibition held in Kampala from Feb. 24-27.
The Congress that was hosted by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) under the auspices of African Water Association (AfWA) was opened by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
It attracted around 2000 sector delegates and exhibitors from over 50 countries.
One of the possible solutions to the sector challenges that participants suggested was about having dependable data on water and sanitation to guide the process of policy formulation and making of laws.
Other suggestions included; development of human capital, resource mobilization–through private or public means, embracing new technologies along the entire value chain as well as encouraging the young engineers and entrepreneurs to join the sub-sector.
The other recommendations included; embracing new reforms, policies and legal frameworks in line with the changing sector trends, collaboration between utilities and governments and having political will to support investments and implementation of policies and laws for the sector.
The congress was held amidst reports that access to clean water and sanitation services were still low among the African countries and that governments needed more resources to invest in the sub-sector.
Data compiled by a German development agency, GIZ in 2018, indicates that many countries in the region had implemented far-reaching water sector reforms, some with German support.
The agency said though the number of people living in towns and cities had increased significantly, access to piped water declined from 63% to 56% in the region, missing the Millennium Development Goal for water.
“While Africa’s urban population and hence demand for water continues to grow at unprecedented levels, the bar has been raised even higher under the Sustainable Development Goal framework…governments now aim for universal access to safely managed water services with higher service levels,” the report reads in part.
Related data compiled by UNICEF and World Health Organisation also indicates that a lot still needs to be done by governments to accelerate growth in the sector.
The two agencies estimates that over 565million people in Sub Saharan Africa alone have no access to sanitation, and 330 million people live without access to safe water.
The agencies say that the poverty link to water, sanitation and hygiene is well proven and that addressing these issues leads to improved livelihoods and increased productivity.
In an interview with The Independent on Feb.25, Eng. Silver Mugisha, the managing director for NWSC, said the congress was significant to Uganda because it would find solutions to the sector problems and find ways of engaging governments to manage them.
He said the discussions on evolving technologies to aid African utilities accelerate water access and improve sanitation in both rural and urban areas was top on the agenda.
He also said the exhibition at the congress was intended to help different sector players to showcase their innovations and services and receive feedback to the target clients.
Mugisha said NWSC believes that the congress would support the economy to grow since they were using the platform to market Uganda.
“It helps us to show our country so that people know its beauty,” Mugisha said.