Wednesday, September 30, 2009

All together now!

There's a lot going on in the water community of Uganda, at least in Mbarara district. The National Water and Sewerage Corporation, the Church of Uganda, and various NGOs all play a part in providing safe water and sanitation to the people here. Yesterday I sat in on a semi-annual coordination meeting between these groups; the purpose is to keep abreast of what each organization is doing and to not duplicate our efforts.

The chairman, a member of the district government, opened the meeting by expounding at length upon the issues he sees as critical to improving water and sanitation. Among these issues were things such as increasing water coverage for high altitude areas (above GFS coverage), planting trees to prevent erosion, empowering water committees to promote sustainability, and bypassing politicians to prevent corruption. On that last point, the chairman made the comment that many local politicians will take bribes to allow people to illegally tap into water lines.

Most interestingly, a presentation was given on the progress of a water census being conducted in Uganda (WATSUP). The purpose of the census is to track progress in providing water, to prioritize projects, and to report to the UN regarding progress made towards achieving the MDGs. Currently the safe water coverage of the Mbarara district stands at 61%, which is much lower than I expected based on what I have seen. Clearly I haven't been out in the rural areas enough.

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