More than 10,000 villages are set to benefit from a Shs213 billion 100 per cent Service Coverage and Acceleration Project (SCAP100) launched by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC).
Speaking at a consultative workshop with district heads, heads of government ministries, departments and agencies on Tuesday, NWSC managing director Silver Mugisha said government will contribute Shs90b while the corporation contributes the remaining Shs123b.
The water utility has also held stakeholder meetings with local leaders across the country to understand the problems they face and also educate them so that the project does not encounter challenges.
Over the past three years, NWSC has extended piped water from 23 towns to 174 towns.
“As at June 2016, NWSC is in 175 towns, 15,500 villages covering 400 sub-counties in 62 districts. With SCAP, we plan to ensure that 10,609 villages and 7.7 million people will be added to the piped water grid to allow them to have access to safe water by 2020,” Mr Mugisha said.
Mr Mugisha also said three years ago, NWSC was expanding at an average of 80km per annum, however, today they have been expanding at an average of 1000km per year, and this has been done using their own resources.
“SCAP 100 is in line with the NWSC five year strategic direction aspiration of achieving 100 per cent service coverage goal which is in tandem with the overall national strategic framework and policy aspiration of achieving universal and equitable access to water and sanitation by all,” he said.
He explained that their aspiration of achieving the 100 per cent water coverage target by 2020 in 80 districts in Uganda, will only be achieved if the local governments, ministries and agencies come together to address environmental protection to avoid water stress because NWSC has realised that even if it is not within its core mandate to protect the environment, water sources can be depleted, affecting their capacity to supply water.
“When water sources dry we have to go to neighbours and this is not sustainable. We have places such as Mbarara where wetlands disappeared and already we have been affected in Arua, Mbale, Masaka and Bushenyi,” he said, adding that working with the local governments, they have empowered them to ensure that wetlands and forests are protected to save the water sources because it is the people within the water sources who degrade them.
Unburden the poor
Mr Mugisha explained that the move will also reduce on the costs of clean water paid by the poor people who are charged Shs300 for a unit of water by those who already have piped water.
He also proposed a Shs8 increase in the water tariff rate from Shs62 to Shs70 which would be enough to generate the total sum of Shs213b required for achieving the 100 per cent coverage.