A recent report, titled “Rainwater Harvesting: Uganda Citizens’ Experiences,” reveals that access to safe water from piped or other improved sources has increased from 74 percent in 2018 to 79 percent in 2022. The study, conducted by Twaweza’s Sauti za Wananchi survey in 2022, emphasizes the differences in safe water access between rural and urban areas.
In rural regions, the access to safe water has notably improved, while urban areas have seen a modest change, with rates increasing from 86 percent to 88 percent. Greater Kampala leads in terms of access to better quality safe water, with 73 percent, followed by Western Uganda at 25 percent, Central Uganda at 15 percent, Eastern at 11 percent, and Northern at four percent.
The report also highlights the methods employed by Ugandans for water storage. It reveals that the majority of households use jerrycans (bidomola) to store harvested water, accounting for 40 percent of the cases. Other storage vessels include tanks at 20 percent, basins at 14 percent, saucepans at 13 percent, and buckets at nine percent.
Furthermore, the research indicates that households typically store the water for about one week, underscoring the need for larger storage facilities during the rainy season.
Marie Nanyanzi, the Senior Program Officer at Twaweza East Africa, shared the report’s findings with the public and emphasized the importance of the rainwater harvesting bill currently being discussed in Parliament. The bill aims to make rainwater harvesting compulsory to prevent the wastage of this essential resource.
Yeri Ofwono, Tororo Municipality MP, and the proponent of the bill, stated that it would not impose fines but create a mandatory framework for rainwater harvesting. However, companies failing to comply may face fines of 100 million Ugandan shillings and the risk of losing their trading licenses.
These discussions come as the world marks World Food Day under the theme: “Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave No One Behind.” Water ministry principal engineer Stanley Watenga emphasized the increasing scarcity of water due to population growth and the expensive technology needed. Springs are drying up, and boreholes struggle to meet the growing population’s demands. Boreholes cost between 25 million and 30 million shillings, while community systems that utilize rooftops can exceed 100 million shillings.
Ofwono expressed the need to lobby through the bill to seek government subsidies for technology related to rainwater harvesting, potentially including the removal of taxes on imported water tanks.
Twaweza, a non-governmental organization based in East Africa, focuses on promoting transparency, accountability, and citizen engagement in the region.