Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working towards providing clean water and sanitation for everyone in Uganda are concerned about the country’s ability to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the next seven years. They believe that insufficient investment in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) could hinder progress in other areas.
Yunia Musaazi, the Executive Director of Uganda Water and Sanitation Network (UWASNET), emphasized that water is essential for various aspects of life, including industrialization, health, the environment, and addressing climate change. Water plays a crucial role in ecosystems, education, poverty reduction, food security, peace, human rights, and overall well-being.
To address these concerns, CSOs, in a joint statement released on September 25, 2023, ahead of the 13th annual WASH CSO summit, called on the government to increase funding for WASH.
SDG 6 focuses on ensuring universal access to clean water and sanitation. Musaazi highlighted that access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is a fundamental human need for health and well-being. Population growth, urbanization, and increased water demand from agriculture, industry, and energy sectors have put additional pressure on water resources.
However, the United Nations-Water report titled “Blueprint for Acceleration: Sustainable Development Goal 6 Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation 2023” reveals that progress on SDG 6 is falling alarmingly short. It states that progress must accelerate significantly to achieve universal access to safely managed drinking water, sanitation, and basic hygiene by 2030.
Additionally, the report noted a decline in official development assistance (ODA) commitments to the water sector, despite increasing water stress.
Musaazi emphasized the urgent need for the government to address water scarcity driven by climate change. UWASNET has focused on initiatives like tree planting and the restoration of water-related ecosystems to combat this issue.
To achieve the SDGs by 2030, CSOs are calling for renewed commitment to financing, solidarity, and action. They stress the need for increased budget allocation to water, sanitation, and the environment. Climate change’s impact on water resources also requires the involvement of the private sector.
The Minister of Water and Environment, Sam Cheptoris, has previously noted that Uganda may not meet its water objectives by 2030. One in four urban Ugandans and one in three rural Ugandans lack access to clean water, posing health risks.
CSOs highlight the need for additional financing for water, sanitation, and hygiene in schools, particularly to ensure safety for female students.
While numerous projects have been implemented in the water, sanitation, and hygiene sector, long-term results have been elusive due to factors such as water resource management and climate change.