WATER stakeholders have urged governments in the East African Community (EAC) member states to allocate proper budget for protecting and preserving water sources and infrastructures across the region to combat challenges of access to water.
The stakeholders were participating in a roundtable conference organised by WaterAid East Africa, ahead of the global commemoration of World Water Day 2023, which is marked every 22nd of March.
This year’s theme is ‘Accelerating access to water in the face of climate change’.
The conference which was attended virtually and physically involved participants from Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya,
They discussed the significance of collaborations that will facilitate the access to sustainable and safe water, sanitation and hygiene in the region.
They all called for joint efforts of all stakeholders by prioritising Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) across the health sector, increase quantity and quality of financing and strengthen resilience of WASH to climate change.
Speaking during the conference held over the weekend, Regional Director, East Africa and Ethiopia WaterAid, Olutayo Bankole-Bolawole said that, East Africa was one of the regions in the world that is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“In the region, there has been a high level of climate-induced water shortage due to extreme weather events, with people facing food insecurity and outbreaks of diarrheal diseases such as cholera,” she said.
She said in order to meet the global promise of water by 2030, governments and other stakeholders need to increase their engagements that will lead to ending the water crisis and quadruple investments, especially as climate change continues to negatively impact on the existing water resources and infrastructure.
“Accelerating access to water in the face of climate change is a great opportunity for us at WaterAid to reiterate the importance of the management and sustainability of our precious water resources and enjoin policy and decision makers to act in tackling the global water crisis,” she said.
According to situation analysis done by WaterAid in countries where it operates within the region in Ethiopia, only half of the population has basic drinking water.
She said the analysis also reveals that though Tanzania has recorded 86 per cent access to water, 34 per cent of water points in rural communities are not functioning and over half of its healthcare facilities lack connectivity with piped water supply.
In Rwanda, 45 per cent of the population lacks access to basic water services, while in Uganda only 56 per cent of the population has access to at least basic water supply.
Ms Bolawole noted that, in 2015, the world committed to the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6– the promise that everyone would have safely managed water and sanitation by 2030.
She said that the proportion of the global population using safely managed drinking water services has increased from 70 per cent in 2015 to 74 per cent in 2020. Still, two billion people were without such services that year, including 1.2 billion people lacking even the basic level of service.
At the current rate of progress, she said the world will reach 81 per cent coverage by 2030, missing the target and leaving 1.6 billion people without safely managed drinking water supplies.