Minister Cracks Down on Shady Water Project Accounting in Ugandan Districts

Minister Cracks Down on Shady Water Project Accounting in Ugandan Districts
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Uganda's state minister for water, Aisha Sekindi, is demanding stricter accountability from district leaders regarding government funding allocated for water projects. Her concerns stem from suspicions that some districts are misrepresenting their use of funds by including projects implemented by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in their reports.

Minister Sekindi made this clear while commissioning a new water system in Mayuge district. She emphasized the need for districts to differentiate between water sources funded by the government's conditional grants and those provided by NGOs.

"The president wants a clear report on how the money allocated to districts is being spent," Minister Sekindi explained. "We need to see value for money. Separate water systems built using government funds from those donated by NGOs."

The minister's call for transparency comes amidst the government's ambitious plan to ensure universal village access to clean water by 2030. To gauge progress and identify discrepancies, Minister Sekindi has embarked on field visits to verify district reports on water coverage. In some cases, she discovered inconsistencies between official records and information provided by local Members of Parliament.

"Previously, districts have provided false information on water coverage in communities," Minister Sekindi stated. "There have been instances where district records contradicted what our MPs reported from their constituencies."

The newly commissioned water system in Mayuge exemplifies a successful collaboration between the government, an NGO (WaterAid Uganda), and a religious organization (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). The project provided access to clean water for over 2,500 people and hygiene education for more than 3,000 residents.

Minister Sekindi emphasized the importance of local leadership in ensuring project sustainability and preventing the mixing of government and NGO projects. She urged Local Council leaders at various levels (LCVs, LCIIIs) to actively supervise and oversee government projects.

The village chairperson, Mr. Etole Gaspero, highlighted the challenges the community previously faced due to limited access to clean water. These included waterborne diseases, long distances to water sources, and safety concerns, particularly for women.

"Previously, women and girls had to travel long distances to collect water, often from unsafe sources in swamp areas, which sometimes led to violence," Mr. Gaspero said. "Waterborne diseases were also common, and people spent a lot of money on treatment."

Expressing gratitude for the new water system, Mr. Gaspero noted a decrease in domestic violence incidents as women no longer have to travel far to access water. He also commended WaterAid Uganda for promoting hygiene and sanitation practices within the community.

WaterAid Uganda's country director, Ernest Gbekor, reiterated the organization's commitment to project sustainability. He explained their collaborative approach with the government to ensure the longevity of water facilities and expand water access across the country.

"Sustainability is crucial for WaterAid," Mr. Gbekor said. "We work with the ministry and other stakeholders to ensure the proper maintenance of these facilities for the benefit of communities. This significant investment needs to be protected for future generations."

Minister Sekindi's initiative highlights the Ugandan government's efforts to improve water access and transparency in district-level project management. By ensuring proper allocation and reporting of funds, these efforts aim to achieve the national goal of universal water coverage by 2030.

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