There’s improved water coverage in the country. Minister Anywar reveals as NRM manifesto week goes on.

Minister of Water and Environment Beatrice Anywar has reported an increase in water coverage in both urban and rural areas.

She made the remarks while presenting the sector’s performance since 2016.

According to Anywar, the current rural water coverage is estimated at 71%, while the urban water coverage stands at 79.1%.

The cumulative number of water connections countrywide is estimated at 720,000. Overall a total 38,517 villages representing 66% of the total 57,974 villages in the country have been served with clean water and the unserved villages are 19,457. Amuru district village coverage stands at 100% because the village set up in Amuru (Terot Kweri) compared to other districts  she said.

She added that while 35 districts have coverage of above 80%, domestic water points increased to  132,341 serving 27, 797,316 people.

The minister further revealed that the national average sanitation coverage in rural areas is at 79%.

“While sanitation in urban areas increased 87.4% as at December 2019.  The total sewer network is 650kms countrywide representing 30%,” she reported.

17,556Km of NWSC piped water network has been extended serving 253 towns with 127.8million cubic meters of water supplied, with 78,761 industrial/commercial customer base, she said.

“Overall, the current cumulative storage for water for production stands at 41.124 Million Cubic Meters (MCM). This represents 71.5% of the projected manifesto target of 55MCM expected to be realized by 2021,”

Anywar said government completed construction of ten Small Scale Irrigation systems in districts of Pallisa, Bukedea, Katakwi, Tororo, Kamuli, Bugiri, Soroti, Abim, Kaabong and Mayuge Districts.

“In addition Government has commenced with the construction of six medium scale irrigation schemes with a total of 3,976 hectares. These include, Rwengaaju in Kabarole District standing at 70%, Tochi in Oyam District standing at 86% completion level, Mubuku-II (480ha) in Kasese District stands at 63%, Doho-II (1,178ha) in Butaleja District is at 80.5%, Ngenge (880ha) in Kween District is 87.5% and Wadelai (1,000ha) in Pakwach district estimated at 53% completion level,”

The minister further noted that forest cover has increased from 9% during 2015 to only 12.4% in 2019 as compared to the manifesto target of 15%.

“The increase has been due to education, awareness and enforcement as well as restoration through natural regeneration, planting of different species including agroforestry and plantation establishment through projects like Farm Income Enhancement and Forestry Conservation Project, REDD+, Sawlog Production Grant Scheme (SPGS) and Community Tree Planting Programme of the NFA,” she explained.

She noted that wetland coverage has stagnated to less than 8.9% (2,029,090ha).

“Government has restored 637 hectares (ha) of degraded wetlands and demarcated 283.7km of critical wetlands with pillars,” said the minister.

Anywar said government further restored and protected critical wetlands like Katonga-Sembabule (10Hac), Mikomago-Masaka (45 Ha.), Lubigi-Wakiso (275 Ha) and Limoto-Pallisa (157.4 Ha) making a total of 487.4 Ha restored.

She however said the ministry faces challenges such as the limited financial resources due to high per capita investment costs coupled with the inadequate local capacity of private sector players affects the timely implementation of the manifesto commitments.

“In addition, there are land disputes in some of the areas where the WfP infrastructures was to be implemented such as at Acanpii dam in Oyam district,” she said.

She added that “To some extent, the communities resist the construction of water supply schemes and WFP facilities while other demand exorbitant sums of money for land compensation and this consequently delays actual construction of the water infrastructure as planned.  In addition, the unanticipated delays in completion of feasibility studies and designs under the ministry and NWSC equally affects the planned commencement of projects.”

The pressure on wetlands and forests due to land for agriculture expansion, rapid population growth, unplanned urbanization, expansion of informal settlements, industrialization which Anywar said outstrips the effort by the sector and not matching up with rate of demarcation, restoration and maintenances of the ecosystems.

“Likewise, the inadequate number of Environmental Police Protection Unit (EPPU) has also affected effective enforcement for environment protection countrywide.”

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