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Published on: 21/03/2024

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Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Acieng launches sanitation week and SHF project at Kampala, 14 March 2024
Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Acieng launches sanitation week and SHF project at Kampala, 14 March 2024

A global event preceding World Water Day, Uganda's sanitation week 2024 under the theme "Sanitation and hygiene for all; a key to sustainable health living", is bringing together stakeholders' country-wide to shine the spotlight on commitments on sanitation and hygiene as vital components of sustainable human development, learn from each other and develop strategies to improve sector service delivery. It is also an opportunity to share feedback on government policies and strategies from the local governments and implementing partners.

“We spend hefty sums of money treating preventable diseases such as diarrhoea among infants. Still, we lose 33 children daily to the same, and the consistent outcry from the communities is that there are no drugs in the health facilities. I ask every person to commit today to change our habits and adopt a culture of cleanliness, responsibility and respect for our environment,” Dr Diana Atwiine, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health, Uganda.  

Previous similar events have singled out the challenge of limited and undervalued financing options for sanitation and hygiene, accrued to the gap in evidence and products about the sanitation economy and hygiene markets for Uganda.  

Responding to this gap, a three-year Sanitation and Hygiene Fund (SHF) project in Uganda worth 5million US Dollars was concurrently launched to catalyse public and private investment in sanitation and menstrual hygiene markets, with the purpose to activate the evolving sanitation economy through a targeted focus on seven selected districts. The SHF is enabled by the Governments of The Netherlands and Switzerland.  

The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng while launching the SHF project applauded development partners and civil society for catalysing the economic potential of sanitation and hygiene that Uganda has missed out on for long. 

“I am excited to learn that our next personal and private investments may be in the sanitation and hygiene sector. Government of Uganda shall leverage on this project to navigate innovative financing to accelerate access to improved health, and ultimately to steer the country towards building a sanitation economy and accelerating menstrual health and hygiene markets.”  

Work under the SHF project commenced mid last year with IRC delivering intensive capacity strengthening in Three-Star WASH in Schools model to education officers and the WASH FIT tool to health officers in Buikwe, Buyende, Kabarole, Kamuli, Kayunga, Luuka and Kole districts. 

The SHF project is managed under Water For People as the prime in Uganda, while government oversight is under the Ministry of Health, Environmental Health Department. Other implementing partners are the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Ministry of Education and Sports, UWASNET, Finnish Mondial (HEWASA and AMREF Health Africa), IRC and Water For People.  

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IRC Jane Nabunnya Mulumba with Health Minister Jane Ruth Acieng, State Minister PHC Margaret Muhanga, PS Diana Atwiine, SHF Aline Pawele and WFP Cate Nimanya
IRC Jane Nabunnya Mulumba with Health Minister Jane Ruth Acieng, State Minister PHC Margaret Muhanga, PS Diana Atwiine, SHF Aline Pawele and WFP Cate Nimanya

The Minister of Health also inaugurated the National WASH Steering Committee on which IRC’s Jane Nabunnya Mulumba is a member. The steering committee is led and currently chaired by the Ministry of Health comprising of line ministries, departments and agencies, and including development partners as well as the private sector. 

“This National WASH Steering committee is intended to break down institutional silos, facilitate harmonised planning, implementation and increase transparency and accountability for improved WASH service delivery,” Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health.  

The sanitation week event in Uganda has over the years purposefully boosted:  

  • An enabling environment to support and facilitate accelerated scaling up through policy and legislation, coordination, comparative monitoring and incentives (fiscal and awards), and capacity building support to communities and other stakeholders.
  • Demand generation for sanitation and hygiene products through health and hygiene awareness, social marketing, financial incentives or rewards, and enforcement of the regulation.
  • Supply chain improvement in terms of appropriate technology solutions, product/project development, private sector supply, and financial incentives or rewards.

It is envisaged that by the end of the public awareness campaigns on-going all over the country, citizens will be better empowered to participate in demanding for their human rights to proper sanitation and a clean environment, and to do their duty through positive behaviours that directly contribute to the Sustainable Development goals target 6.2 which aims to achieve equitable sanitation for all and ending open defecation by 2030.  

The climax event is slated for Friday 22nd March 2024 at Kyebando playground, Kisengwe sub county in Kakumiro district, and will be presided over by Prime Minister of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja. 

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