KAMPALA, October 6, 2009—In Uganda, access to improved water supplies in rural areas stands at 63 percent with significant disparities among different regions in the country. Access ranges from as low as 12 percent in Kaabong District in north-eastern Uganda to more than 90 percent in Kabale District in south-western Uganda. Approximately half of the country’s districts are still below the national average of 63 percent.
These were findings of a study conducted in June 2009, by the World Bank in partnership with Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), the secretariat of the Water Integrity Network (WIN), and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP-Uganda) as part of efforts to support water integrity in the Ugandan water sector.
The World Bank funded the study in order to unearth the Risk and Opportunity Mapping underlying accountability processes in the water sector, and review overall progress in the water sector.
The survey which covered rural and urban areas across Uganda sought to identify approximate levels of resource financial leakages/corruption in the management of Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) systems experienced by National Water and Sanitation Corporation (NWSC), private water operators, rural and urban consumers, water authority representatives, district officials and contractors/suppliers; as well as to assess the level of transparency in decision-making processes related to allocation of water resources.
World Bank Country Manager for Uganda, Ms Kundhavi Kadiresan, told journalists on September 30 during the monthly Coffee Press Dialogue that the major areas that the study focused on were:
the concerns of water consumers while getting water services;
the quality of the services provided;
experiences/perceptions of corruption in the lack of independent regulation;
procurement irregularities; and
poor contract management.
These were found to be among the major setbacks facing the water sector.
“The World Bank funded a nation-wide quantitative baseline survey that examined how citizens, contractors, private operators and local government officials as well as public utility staff experience integrity in the provision of water, covering both rural and urban areas,” said Kadiresan.
Speaking to members of the press, Mr. Sam Mutono, a Senior Water and Sanitation Specialist at the World Bank, said that the functionality of improved rural water supplies currently stands at 82 percent. In urban areas, access to safe water stands at 61 percent; this breaks down to 72 percent in 23 large towns, while for 160 small towns it averages 46 percent.
The average percentage of people having access to improved sanitation is 62 percent (with 69% being the target) in rural areas and 77 percent in urban areas that strong anti-corruption legal and institutional framework is not matched with implementation, hence leading to weak linkages between Water Supply and Sanitation, and accountability institutions such as the Inspector General of Government (IGG) and the Attorney’s General’s offices (AG).
Other objectives of the survey were to determine the extent of illegal costs that consumers (rural and urban) incur in the course of their interactions with WSS service providers; assess the poverty and gender impacts of corruption in the water sector; and assess the levels of integrity among water authorities experienced by contractors and consultants in the sector.
In the same meeting, Kadiresan briefed the media about the forthcoming Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group. She said that each year brings together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.
The 2009 Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF will be held in Istanbul, Turkey on October 6-7, 2009.
“The meetings will also offer an opportunity for civil society organizations to share their views and interact with policymakers in a global setting,” she said.
Kadiresan also announced a grant of US$35,000 (Shs70 million) that the World Bank has given to government to enable them build technical capacity of government officials to handle any disaster that will occur in the country as a result of El-Nino rains, which are expected to hit the country this month.
Experts are predicting the negative impact of El Niño in the areas of food security, livestock mortality due to disease; soil erosion, damage to crops and infrastructure, and reduced market access.
Ms. Mary Bitekerezo, the World Bank’s Senior Social Development Specialist in Uganda, told journalists that the money will be used for building capacity of government officials at the centre level, district level and the lower sub-district level to develop skills that would help them handle national disasters that will occur in the country as a result of El-Nino.
“Uganda government through the office of the Prime Minister submitted a request to World Bank asking for the assistance to deal with disasters that may occur as a result of El-Nino, and the World Bank has responded by giving the government $35,000 to build the technical capacity of government officers by training them in disaster management,” Bitekerezo said.
Bitekerezo explained that during the training a committee will be set up involving officials from upper to lower government levels and they are expected to respond to the disaster assessment and management as fast as possible to mitigate the impact of the disaster.