Up to 2.4 million people in rural areas and small towns across Uganda should have improved access to water supply and sanitation by 2016. This follows the African Development Bank (AfDB) signing on 11 January of USD 67 million package to finance the implementation of Uganda’s Water and Sanitation Programme. The project aligns with Uganda’s national goal to increase access to water supply and sanitation services, to achieve 100 percent coverage by 2035.
Uganda has long recognised the cross-benefits of access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation on other Millennium Development Goals. It has made substantial progress in terms of increasing coverage in the last decade. The AfDB financed programme falls under the Joint Water and Sanitation Programme Support, a programme created by the government of Uganda in 2007 to address the remaining disparities in the national coverage of potable water and improved sanitation across and within districts and regions. These are disparities, which have been affecting some of the most marginalised and poorest people in the country.
Maria Kiwanuka, Uganda’s minister for finance, planning, and economic development, said “This program properly aligns with our plan to manage and develop the water resources of Uganda in an integrated and sustainable manner, so as to secure and provide water of adequate quantity and quality for all social and economic needs, to present and future generations.”
The Water and Sanitation Programme in Uganda is designed to help achieve sustainable provision of safe water and hygienic sanitation - based on management responsibility and ownership by the users – providing coverage to 77 percent of the population in rural areas and 90 percent in small towns, currently at 65 percent and 66 percent respectively.
Kamal Elkheshen, AfDB vice-president for sector operations, said “The program will bring general improvements to the quality of life of the populations served, contribute to poverty alleviation and is geared towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals related to water supply and sanitation.”
This financing follows the completion in 2009 of two AfDB projects in Uganda, namely the Rural Water and Sanitation Programme and the Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Project, for a total investment of USD 95 million. Those projects successfully helped increase access to adequate services to four million people in rural areas and 320,000 people in small towns.
The Water and Sanitation Programme and both previous AfDB operations support the attainment of the objectives set out by the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, an Africa-wide initiative led by AfDB, which aims at accelerating access to water supply and sanitation services in rural Africa. Its aim is to reach 80 percent access to water supply and sanitation by 2015, thus contributing to poverty reduction and economic growth.