A section of lawmakers have tasked the Ministry of Water and Environment to come up with a water policy, so as to stop the practice of dragging students from classes to go fetch water for school use.
This followed a concern raised by Margret Rwebyambu (Mbarara DWR) who tasked Premier Robinah Nabbanja to explain what policies have been put in place to ensure that all schools have water points so as not to affect studies for the students.
“Primary and secondary schools should be provided with water tanks so that these children get good drinking water and they also stop fetching water during class time,” said Rwebyamu.
She was backed by Medard Lubega (Busiro East) who questioned why Government has a policy on health and education yet there is no such policy for a basic need like water especially for areas which aren’t served by National Water and Sewerage Corporation.
He said, “Now water is a basic need, why can’t we have a policy on water? And I mean provision of water to every village so that at another occasion when we are discussing the budget of water, we know how much it costs to have water in every village. Where there are boreholes, they are being serviced by MPs when it breaks down. It stretches us and not only stretching us, but sometimes children don’t even go to school because they have to spend three hours looking for water.”
He urged Government to initiate a policy on water so as to spur development in the country noting, “That head which was given to human beings, it wasn’t for carrying water, it was for thinking to develop the country. so I would love to see a day when government comes up with a policy to allow people use their heads for better things than carry water.”
According to the Water Organisation, 7 million Ugandans lack access to safe water and 28million Ugandans don’t have access to improved sanitation facilities and urban people are spending 22% of their income to access water from vendors.
Premier Nabbanja replied saying that Government isn’t only looking for water for consumption, but also water for production and where there is mass water production, this will be used for consumption and irrigation.
“In January, Cabinet agreed that we should have a well designed policy so that we can have water in every village and we are doing exactly that and I promise on behalf of government that we shall have water in every village,” said Nabbanja.
Speaker Among backed the Premier, saying her district has water in every village and the only issue remaining is having this same gesture extended to all villages across the country.
“I am one of the beneficiaries of water in every village, maybe it is about roll out. When I talk about Bukedea, it has water in every village. There is gravity water and rural water, but what we have to talk about is to roll it out across the whole country,” Among said.
However, Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala County) argued that given the fact that water is such a basic need, it ought not to be a one off that you spot in Bukedea, but it should be availed to all Ugandans at the village level and urged Government to ensure that all social amenities like schools and health centers should be done comprehensively to solve the challenges at the community level.
“In strategic planning, if government is going to roll out a secondary school in every sub county, the question is, what other environment and community issues can you address in that secondary school? You have so many building, where in one rainy season, you are going to harvest water which you donate to people. The issue should be around solving community issues, and solutions are all over the place,” Kivumbi said.
In August 2016, the United Nations Children’s Fund highlighted that the 200 million hours women and girls spend daily collecting water is colossal waste of time.