Tanzania/Uganda: Border town water project kicks off

Report
from UN Human Settlements Program
Published on 03 Jul 2009 View Original
Mutukula, Uganda, 3 Jul 09 - Things are looking up for some 15,000 residents of Mutukula town on the Ugandan-Tanzanian border with the recent launch of a water project backed by UN-HABITAT.

Uganda's Minister for Water and Environment Ms. Maria Mutagamba presided over the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the UN-HABITAT project which will provide clean water to the residents. Under the Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative , the agency is investing over US$ 800,000 in developing a trans-border water supply project for the town which is situated on the busy transit route from the Ugandan capital of Kampala to Bukoba in Tanzania.

The town has grown rapidly to a major administrative and trading centre and a meeting post for residents on both sides of the border. The planned establishment of a Free Trade Zone in Mutukula will accelerate its growth further, increasing the pressure for improved services. Surveys carried out by UN-HABITAT in 2007 reveal a dire situation with respect to water supply and environmental sanitation, with only 6% of the town residents having access to a safe and reliable supply of water and just 13% to basic sanitation.

Speaking at the function, Ms. Mutagamba said: 'We thank UN-HABITAT for the tremendous effort they have put in galvanising resources and making this day possible; We hope we have started our journey to clean safe water in this region. This effort is greatly appreciated by the Honourable Minister for Water and Environment of Uganda.'

In his speech the UN-HABITAT Programme Manager for Uganda Mr. Peter Wegulo said the proposal to make Mutukula a Free Trade Zone would bring with it pressure for additional water source. "The long term intervention should focus more on resource availability as this could be a major constraint in future development," he said.

The UN-HABITAT programme for the town includes a complete water supply system based on boreholes, public sanitation facilities, and improved household sanitation which is being provided though a micro-credit revolving fund. The Programme is also giving priority attention to supporting Mutukula and other project towns to establish systems for Solid Waste Management. Specialised equipment and systems for Solid Waste Management suited to small towns have been designed and, through partnership arrangements with two private companies in Kenya, the equipment has been manufactured to UN-HABITAT specifications and part of it delivered to the towns. Mutukula has already received two small tractors which are being used to improve garbage collection.

With major infrastructure works now underway in the town, there will be immediate benefits to the town residents through job creation and the engagement of small local contractors. Job creation will also be given attention through a capacity enhancement programme in local economic development which will include the involvement of local communities in recycling of waste for income generation.