Published on: 20/10/2023
Financing for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), alongside environment and climate change remains staggeringly low for Uganda despite that the country's targets for full monetization of the economy are premised on agriculture and industrialisation which greatly depend on WASH and natural resources. A paltry UGX 9.6 trillion (18.2% of the national budget FY2023/24) is allocated to the broader Human Capital Development programme under the Third National Development Plan (NDP III) but with no clarity of how much of this will be accessible to the WASH sub sector.
The perpetual low budget allocations from the national envelop to WASH and environment compounded by diminishing global financing options and the adverse effects of climate change on the peoples' livelihoods present an enormous challenge to the water and environment sector to effectively deliver on the mandate of sustainable management and development of water and environment resources.
On August 30, 2023, the Ministry of Water and Environment through its research coordinating arm, the Water Resources Institute (WRI) and under the collaborative agreement with IRC International Water and Sanitation Center (IRC) and Water For People (WFP), convened the dialogue themed Scaling Up Financing for the Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Environment and Climate Change to achieve 2030 Agenda.
"We have come a long way as a sector, but our efforts are in vain if we continue to look on as the wound of limited and diminishing funding cuts deeper. In this dialogue, we invite you to bring to the table all innovative ideas that can help us identify the resources that we need to sustainably manage our water, environment, and climate change to support our national economic development," Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC.
Participants, panellists and speakers represented a broad spectrum of stakeholders including economic and public policy experts, water and environment experts, investment, finance and private entrepreneurs, academia, political leaders, civil society organisations and the media. On the panel of discussion was the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) alongside private sector partners including Nile Breweries Ltd, GRO Foundation, DFCU Bank, Association of Micro Finance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU) and Global Water Partnership Southern Africa (GWPSA).
"While we appreciate that funds are limited, how are you utilising the available resources? As parliament, we base appropriation of funds on what sectors submit as non-funded priorities. The onus is on your Ministry to package proposals that will convince us, that you need to put the money to those spaces," Migadde Robert Ndugwa, MP representing Buvuma Island and Chairman Parliamentary Committee on National Economy
The keynote presentation emphasised non-traditional resource mobilisation opportunities that the sector could harness to exponentially increase the funding basket.
"Look beyond the same old way of working within the comfort zones of sector actors and expand your networks to the business markets. Change your project proposals to the private sector from social corporate responsibility to market driven investment. Stop referring to your target clients as beneficiaries, or else people will continue to respond to your agenda with the attitude of dependence rather than of adding value," Prof Alex Ariho, CEO African Agribusiness Incubators Network and Keynote Speaker.
Evidence of impact and value for money invested in the water and environment sector was underscored as foundational for successful advocacy for increasing domestic public funding to the sector.
"External sources are on the decline post the COVID19 pandemic and other global conditionalities; we must refocus our resource mobilisation efforts to domestic public funding. It is in the interest of the Ministry to document and speak about your impact and contribution of the sector to the national tax revenue accrued from your products and services. People want to associate with the winning innovations.," Prof Pamela Mbabazi, Chairperson Executive Board of the National Planning Authority.
The Ministry reiterated the significant role of non-state actors in identifying multiple and innovative sources and mechanisms to fund the water and environment sector.
"We endeavour to perform to the highest standard even with the meagre resources that are allocated to us. We value partnership and invite the private sector to boldly support the ecosystems that drive their very existence. The ideas pooled at this dialogue from a wide range of experiences and expertise within and beyond Uganda will help us to identify alternative funding sources that we need to manage and develop water and environment resources and ultimately to address the current and emerging issues and challenges while supporting the country to meet its targets towards achieving middle income status," Albert Okot Okidi, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Water and Environment and host of the national financing dialogue series.
Investing in water and environment | ON THE SPOT by NTV Uganda