According to the circular dated March 31, the Water Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Alfred Okot Okidi advised all Chief Administrative Officers, to let all planned activities within the water department and focus on ensuring that the population in their respective areas access clean water.
The Ministry of Water and Environment has directed all local
governments to repair all non-functional boreholes. The move is to ensure that all Ugandans, can have access to water as the country battles an outbreak of coronavirus disease COVID-19.
According to the circular dated March 31, the Water
Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Alfred Okot Okidi advised all Chief Administrative Officers, to let all planned activities within the
water department and focus on ensuring that the population in their respective
areas access clean water.
"…In line with the preventive measures issued by the President
against the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), you are hereby advised to
prioritize the repair of non-functional boreholes in your districts using the
District Water Grant," the circular reads.
A 2019 national baseline survey by Sauti za Wananchi (Voices
of Citizens) on clean and safe water recently released by Twaweza East Africa
shows that boreholes are the main source of drinking water for more households
than any other source both in rural and urban areas. Okidi says that he has noticed that most districts have
several nonfunctional water points leaving people to trek long distances to
"This might be very bad for our people. They need to get
water from the nearest water point so that they minimize their movements. All
other planned activities can wait and they ensure that our people have
water," Okidi told Uganda Radio Network.
The standard distance one should be away from a water source
is 1.5 kilometres. However, as some water points break many Ugandans, in
the countryside have to move over 5 kilometres in search of water. In recent months, much of the funds were directed to powered production
boreholes which can produce massive water that is later pumped to several
water points. However, many of these are still under construction.
Mityana District Water
Officer Eng. James Ssonko notes that unless the government provides a special
emergency fund, districts might not be able to repair the said boreholes. He
notes that there are over 300 nonfunctional boreholes in Mityana yet the said
water Grant was already used to cater for a few rehabilitations.
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Mpigi Water Officer Eng. Joseph Kalegga says the simpler
alternative is to operationalize some of the shallow wells. He points out
although shallow wells were phased out, some of them still have safe water.
“The option of repairing boreholes is difficult to enforce.
There are no funds for such. We had planned to work on only 14
boreholes this financial year which we have already done and there is no more
money. We can instead inspect the quality of water in some shallow wells and
see which can be used by the communities,” Eng Kalegga observes.
Eng Kalegga adds that much of the boreholes were put out of
use because they were producing unsafe water; which is reddish-brown with a
rusty smell due to the galvanized materials which were used during the installation which require to be replaced with stainless steel.
Although Okidi never answered queries on whether there is a special emergency fund for the local government, he rather pointed out that
using shallow wells as suggested by the Mpigi Water Officer might be
According to Uganda
water supply atlas, as of March 31, 2020 access to water in Uganda stands
at 67 percent with 132,358 domestic water points serving over 27.1 million
people of which 22.1 million are in rural areas. The records shade a healthier
picture of progress across the country with access rates varying from 32 per cent
in Kyegegwa District to 95 per cent in Pader District.