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“I want to unlock the stagnant water supply curve”

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“I want to unlock the stagnant water supply curve”

Eng. Kabirizi

Engineer Aaron Mwidu Kabirizi is the Director, I was Commissioner fsor Rural Water Development for five substantive years and two acting; Assistant Commissioner; Principal Engineer; Senior Engineer and Engineer.

I have been in Water since 1984. I studied at Namilyango College; Makerere University and then Loughborough University of Technology where I obtained a Masters degree in Waste Management.

Qn:What is the role of DWD?

Ans:The mandate of DWD is to plan, develop and manage water supply facilities: We develop the water resource for use through water supply projects. We follow that up with maintenance and management. We do that through three departments: the Rural Water Department which ensures supply of water to communities of up to 5,000 people; the Urban Water and Sewerage Department; and the Water for Production Department which is about seven years old – this one is in charge of supplying water for economic production mainly through dams and tanks as well as Irrigation schemes.

We are in charge of development, National Water and Sewerage Corporation is in charge of maintenance and operations in large towns. We develop and hand over to them.

Qn:How would you describe the water supply situation in Uganda today?

Ans:Let us take it from1990. When you look at the water supply curve you realize that we have been making very steady progress, although the curve is now flat. In 1990 rural water supply was at 18% now it is at 65%. Urban water supply is at 69%. We have now stagnated because the rate of population increase is so high – we cannot catch up. We have built capacity to handle but we need more resources.

There are complaints from some Local Governments that you are not answering their water needs

We operate a decentralised system. We send money to local government. We have a formular through which we divide it equitably. Every year we sit with the Local Government Finance Commission and decide on where to put the money. Last year we had 70% of the money going to water development, 13% going to rehabilitation and the other percentage going to other areas including administration. We still retain some budget here to do projects that are big or cut across districts. Of course the local governments would wish to have more money.

Qn: Uganda is blessed with a lot of rain. What is DWD doing to promote rainwater harvesting?

Ans; We have a strategy. As government, we should do promotion. Development should be done by individual households. It would be very expensive if we were to supply tanks to individual households. We have computed capacities that can take different regions through a dry spell. If one had a tank of 6000lt it would be fine, but expensive.

The other strategy is we encourage groups, such as women groups, to work together to put in place rainwater harvesting facilities. This has worked well in Kalisizo and Kigezi.

We have also done some pilot on where government can put money; like in Saccos – we piloted this in Shema and it worked. The only constraint is to have a financial institution that can manage a revolving fund. In Shema they had a village bank so this made things easy.

From all our studies we found that the niche for rainwater harvesting is at the household level. Management is crucial. Management is the keyword here. If you don’t manage rainwater well it will be finished one day after you harvest it. Finding empty tanks at school is because of management. We are targeting households because we know that is where rainwater can best be managed. We are using promotions, radios, papers. We now want to make the promotion more vigorous.

I have seen large water reservoirs which you have developed for agriculture but are not being used. When I talk to your people they say the responsibility is with the Ministry of Agriculture to take the water to farms. We are getting resources wasted here.

The mandates are very clear. I am, for example, a water engineer, not a crop scientist. Colleagues here and I have specialized in developing water and we do it very well. Agriculture, by mandate, they look after crops. We should develop and Agricultures takes over but our country has not yet developed to that level.

Water supply is an input. In football for example there are many players but one will score and people will look at that. People need crops and crops are only understood by Agriculture. We shall not say we have developed water unless it is being used. I want the farmer and the crop to be happy. I am in defence. The person to score is Agriculture. I will not rest until all the stakeholders are engaged to see that we succeed in using this water. But it is important to have the water facility there, then we can mobilize, we should not get tired of mobilization.

Qn: What do you want to see accomplished during your time in this office?

Ans: I would want to unlock the stagnant coverage. We should increase the percentage of water coverage – of course this requires resources. I would also want to see the level of service increased. For example if you have been walking one kilometer for water you should have it brought nearer.

I want the water sector to embrace service. I want to see the engineers, social scientists, all looking at service. What service are we supposed to provide?

I would also want to see a skilled sector. I would want to see our capacity higher. Government operates within priorities. There is a lot of money going into roads because roads are now of high priority. If we are to be given priority I want it to find us prepared.

In summary we should unlock the stagnant curve, move ahead, give service and do maintenance.

What would you want to talk about that we have not discussed yet?

Overall coordination of the sector: we have a very strong coordination mechanism with the donors, the ministry, as well as NGOs – through the Uganda Water and Sanitation Network (UWASNET). When you have a well coordinated approach you avoid duplication and even transparency comes in. I want the sector coordination upheld.



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