Archive for June, 2013

June 29, 2013

Uganda: Reintroduced Water Tax Might Fuel Graft — Activists

Paschal B. Bagonza
June 29, 2013

With the proposed reintroduction of Value Added Tax on water by Uganda’s Minister of finance, Maria Kiwanuka, some taps might stop running and people might resort to alternative sources like wells and streams. These alternative sources are not a guarantee of safe water.

There are also fears that underhand methods may be used by consumers to access water connection and or while paying bills.

Finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuka

Finance Minister, Maria Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka reintroduced 18 per cent VAT on water for domestic consumption and government projects to collect Shs 8 billion in revenue to fund the UGX 13.1 trillion national budget of 2013-2014.

While presenting the budget in Kampala the minister said: “I propose to apply VAT on the supply of water to improve tax administration and generate revenues. This measure will raise Shs.8 billion. This should not affect the prices paid by the majority of low-income consumers, as the price of a [20-litre] jerrycan from National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) will amount to about Shs.40 at communal taps.”

The tax proposal has like previously, sent tongues wagging across the board.

Majority members of the public are crying foul:
“My name is Joseph Ssemakula from Kabusu. This budget is unfair to us, especially regarding water. Water helps everyone. Government isn’t right in taxing water. This should be done on other items. Unless they want us, youth to smell, because we will not be able to afford paying for water to bathe.”

This lady involved in selling boiled water for drinking in Kampala said: “We couldn’t afford water at first. Previously, the water cost was hiked. The 20-litre jerrycan cost between Shs 500- 700. How much are we going to pay now? We are living in poverty and now they want to increase the cost of water. Some of us use water as typical business. Imagine, if I buy water a 20-Litre jerrycan at Shs 700, use charcoal to boil the water, buy packaging material and straws. Will I make any profits?”

“I think they should have increased taxes on other items like cigarettes and alcohol, but they shouldn’t do that to water. First of all there are no wells. We appeal to the government to look into this. All the wells dried up. The government should help and construct for us water wells with pipes,” this gentleman from the neighbouring district of Kampala said.

People including a child collect water for domestic use in a rural part of Uganda

People including a child collect water for domestic use in a rural part of Uganda

According to Water Aid, 33% of Uganda’s population does not have access to safe water, and 52% of people are without sanitation. Infant mortality stands at 130 in 1,000, and 26,000 children under the age of five die every year from diarrheal diseases.

The reintroduction of VAT on water, like oxygen, the lifeline of human beings, will have many far-reaching consequences.

Writing in the Daily Monitor newspaper, Eng. Simon J. Mone is worried that for many communities in drier areas of Uganda, the cost of access to water for domestic use is going to increase…the water problem Ugandans in different parts of the country are facing have very serious impact on the people.

Eng. Mone is of the view that “the government could have considered alternatives to cover the tax on water in the proposed Budget.”

Anti-corruption activists are worried that this may increase graft in the water sector as the public find ways of accessing cheap piped water. The increment is more likely to arm twist water users to participate in corruption in a bid to lower the cost they pay for water.

Peter Wandera, the Executive Director of Transparency International –Uganda says the urban poor will mostly be affected by the increment. A rise in cases of backhand methods, Wandera says, is more likely to be experienced to access water.

“Definitely because now, it will also be giving chance to whoever is responsible at that level to connect the water. If you want water at cheaper rate, just give me some little money, I will connect you. This used to happen previously. Getting water to one’s premises used to be a whole process. One had to bribe here, bribe here, here. But of recent it had sort of reduced or eliminated. But now with this increase, most likely we are going to see a rise in such cases,” Wandera observes.

The Executive Director of Anticorruption Coalition Uganda, Cissy Kagaba also predicts increased cases of corruption in the water sector.

Kagaba says: “The fact that the prices of water will go high which means issues to do with connection will go high. And we know that when it comes to connection fee, reconnection fee and paying the bills, that is where we see quite a number of increase of levels in corruption. Definitely, yes the levels of corruption will go high when it comes to especially issues of accessibility, connection and reconnection, and all those things.”

Kagaba adds that increment will have a spillover effect in education, health and agriculture among others. In, a way, she adds, the increment might affect the attainment of the MDGs.

It is generally agreed that health is going to be affected, when it especially comes to water borne diseases.

Like electricity being expensive and riddled with cases of power theft, it is more likely to be the same with water. The parliamentary liaison officer at the National Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Uganda Catholic Secretariat Fredrick Ssemwanga observes that the government might incur more expenses in enforcing the law.

Corruption, Ssemwanga predicts, is more likely to be pronounced in the water sector this time.

“It is from electricity being very expensive that you find more culprits trying to by-pass electricity. This is going to happen in water; that government is most likely to incur more costs to address such challenges. We are seeing Umeme incurring more costs in enforcing and getting those culprits. We are going to see corruption from the officials themselves,” Ssemwanga observes.

Since the majority of rural population has no access to clean and safe water, this tax, according to Uganda People’s Congress spokesperson Okello Lucima will create racketeering and graft.

He says the taxation will just in other government departments, water will be no different. A network of the corrupt and speculative people to exploit the water delivery system.

Much as the national water and sewerage Corporation is the sole piped water provider, there are fears that any increase in the water cost will more likely create a foundation in Uganda to breed water cartels by well connected people.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes up because corruption, it goes on advancing. So even in water, we can have those cartels being created eventually,” Wandera observes.

Water is a precious resource

Water is a precious resource

However, Kagaba says the sole water provider will ensure that no one else supplies water, thereby killing off any cartel rearing its head. The monopoly, she adds, helps NWSC consolidate its tax collection ability.

“I don’t really think the cartels may come up because right now National Water is the monopoly. If the cartels come up in the purpose for which the government put this tax will not be achieved because people will divert to these cartels.

Ssemwanga observes that water cartels are most likely to emerge if the sector is liberalised.

When this proposal came in the budget last year, the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga said Parliament was going to fight the reintroduction of VAT on piped water; and indeed it was.

Kadaga said the previous parliament had then rejected this proposal and wondered as to why the government had reintroduced it.

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water suplly in LDCs to end water scarcity

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water suplly in LDCs to end water scarcity

The chairperson of the parliamentary forum on water, sanitation and hygiene Jacqueline Amongin says the forum will again lobby other MPs, like last year to have this proposal dropped.

Amongin is worried that the introduction will drive the population to use unsafe water thereby exposing themselves to water-borne diseases.

“Last year the Forum worked hard to have this 18% removed and water was zero-rated. But now they have reinstated it. So now we have to put back the points we raised last year,” she says.

She says illegal connections are more likely to increase if the tax is implemented.

National Water and Sewerage Corporation spokesperson Vivien Newumbe says before VAT was removed, consumers were paying their bills without any problem. She doesn’t see any problem cropping up because of the reintroduction of the tax.

Newumbe says “We don’t think this is going to affect us [NSWC] in any way like saying that we are going to have massive illegal connections or corruption and things like that.”

UN Water Award2

June 29, 2013

Kenya: Water Tariff Increased In Eldoret Town despite Acute Shortage

Caleb Kemboi
June 29, 2013

ELDORET Water and Sanitation Company (Eldowas) in Kenya, will increase its water tariffs despite the looming shortage in Eldoret town and its environs.

Residents will have to dig deeper into their pockets as the company will soon start to effect the sh.62 per cubic metre tariff from the previous sh.54 per cubic meter.

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

Water supply and management remains a problem in several developing countries

Speaking during the stakeholders meeting to review the changes, Eldowas managing director Reuben Tuwei said the increase is meant to address the water shortage menace and improve service provision.

Tuwei said the operational costs such as sewer cleaning, electricity among other services have gone up and they have consulted with the water regulatory board which regulates water tariffs.

They have concluded the review process hence to inform the public what they expect to be charged.

“We last approve our current tariff in the year 2010 and there have been changes on development which we need to increase them so has to meet the costs,”Tuwei said.

He said they will take up development loans to enable them build more dams to increase production in the region.

“The town faces acute shortage of water due to increasing population and that is why we are still ration to ensure that everybody gets water. Now we want to review our tariffs so as to provide this service,” he added.

Chebara dam at Elgeyo Marakwet County currently serves Eldoret town and its outskirts with a production of 36,400 cubic metres per day contrary to the towns’ demand of forty six thousand cubic metre per day.

Lake Victoria North water Services Board will help the company build Kipkaren dam near Eldoret airport to produce about 10,000 cubicmetres per day to address the shortage.

Women and children bathing in Kitagata Hotspring in Uganda

Women and children bathing in Kitagata Hotspring in Uganda

Elegerini dam near Kapataget will also be rehabilitated to produce 9000 cubic metres per day since at the moment it serves as a storage facility.

“We use Elegerini dam to store water during rainy season but we will also rehabilitate to produce it and solve the water shortage once and for all in the town,”Tuwei assured.

However the review has raised uproar amongst the public that the company could have looked for partners to rehabilitate old dams instead of increasing the tariffs.

“The town is faced by a big water shortage and Eldowas should have partnered with the communities to extend their pipes to individual dams and old ones to increase water production,” Charles Mose chairman Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industry Uasin Gishu County said.

June 21, 2013

Kenya: Farmers Take on Irrigation Technology

Jessica Nyaboke
June 21, 2013

Farmers in the North Rift Region of Kenya will soon begin to grow their crops under irrigation following the construction of multimillion shillings dam that will supply them with water.

The offer from Cankeen International, an export company will mostly benefit farmers in Uasin Gishu County of Kenya. The move sets a departure for local farmers from the traditional farming techniques

The Cankeen International an Export Promotion Company says that the organization has rolled out the pilot project to empower the farmers who from the past solely depend on rain water to grow their crop.

Irrigation is paramount to ensure survival of crops planted in dry areas.

Irrigation is paramount to ensure survival of crops planted in dry areas.

Dominic Biwott, the manager of the organization challenges the farmers to embrace the practice saying that currently the problem of climate change has affected a number of farmers leading to poor yields.

He singles out some of the areas which they have identified where the dam will be constructed include, Ziwa, Mois-Bridge and Cheptiret in Kenya.

Biwot saiys that they plan to construct a total of over 30 dams in the marked sites where the farmers would continue to grow crops even during the dry spell in November, December and January.

As a result of climate change we have witnessed farmers who travel as far as Nairobi to come to Eldoret to buy fruits and vegetables after the ones their planted was hit by hailstorms,’’ says Biwoett.

The manager says that if the farmers involve themselves in irrigation, practice of crops getting spoilt by hailstorms will be a thing of the past.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

June 15, 2013

Kenya: Belgium to Build a 1.5 billion Ksh Dam

Caleb Kemboi
June 15, 2013

The Belgium government is set to fund the construction of a multi-billion shillings water dam in Elgeyo Marakwet County Kenya.

The Deputy Governor Gabriel Lagat has disclosed that the water dam project will be situated at Sibor forest in Keiyo South district and it will be funded jointly by the Belgium and Kenya governments to the tune of Ksh 1.5 billion.

Chebara dam in Kenya

Chebara dam in Kenya

He revealed that the interest free loan facility towards the Construction of the dam will be repaid in a period of thirteen years before the project is handed over to the county government.

Lagat stated that upon its completion, the project will serve more than 64,000 residents within Iten town, which is the county Headquarters, and its environs who have been facing acute shortage of the commodity for decades.

Among the public institutions along the Kerio Valley set to benefit from the water project are Tambach teachers training college, Tambach sub-district hospital and Tambach Boys High School.

The government, he stated, has already given the green light to the county government to undertake the construction of the project whose work will commence after one year.

“Feasibility studies and design work at the site have already been done and approved by the government and what is remaining is for the work to start in due course,” said Lagat.

The Deputy Governor pointed out that the multibillion shillings project was initiated by the Rift Valley Water Board four years but stalled along the way due to lack of adequate funding.

Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health

Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health

Speaking to the journalists at his Iten office, Lagat said the Governor, Alex Tolgos is set to travel to Belgium next week to sign an agreement for funding of the water dam project.

He reiterated that the construction of the dam now attract more local and international investors to set up their business in the area to spur social and economic development.

“Perennial water shortage has been a major impediment to the growth of Iten town and its surroundings, besides, scaring away potential investors for many years,” said Lagat.

Although the multi-billion shillings Chebara water dam is situated in Marakwet West district in the county none of the locals access the commodity as it is pumped directly to Eldoret town in Uasin Gishu County.

This has been a source of long standing bad relation between the local community and Eldoret water and Sanitation Company, the custodian of the project signed between it and a donor agency twenty years ago.

The residents have been threatening to disconnect the pipes which supply water to Eldoret town and its environs for being denied to enjoy their resources despite protecting the nearby forest for decades.

Their constant threat has forced the government to deploy a contingent team of security personnel to the site to guard the facility.

June 15, 2013

Kenya: New Water Plant Launched To Curb Water Shortage in Eldoret Town

Caleb Kemboi
June 15, 2013

Lake Victoria North Water services Board will put up a water plant in Eldoret to curb the current shortage of water experienced in the town. The town is facing an acute shortage of water and this has necessitated the board to build it to increase its water supply.

The plant will be situated at Kapseret near Eldoret International Airport with the dam having being already built.

Chebara dam at Elgeyo Marakwet County currently serves Eldoret town and its outskirts with a production of 36,400 cubic meters per day contrary to the towns’ demand of forty six thousand cubic meters per day.

A woman draws water from Yala swamp in Kenya

A woman draws water from Yala swamp in Kenya

Eldoret Water and Sanitation company managing director Reuben Tuwei said the new plant will produce about ten thousand cubic meters per day.

“The town is faced with shortage of water and we are forced to ration to ensure that every body gets water.”Tuwei said.

Tuwei said the dam has been already build with only a treatment plant left to be laid for the plant to start pumping water to the town.

“The works will start soon after tendering process and this will help us bridge the gap and ensure continued supply of water.”He added.

He said the shortage has been caused by the increase in the town’s population and the stretching of their principal area of operation.

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

2013 is International Year of Water Cooperation

June 12, 2013

Water Integrity Forum Calls For Action to Expand Base and Increase Pace to Address Water Integrity Challenges

WaterSan Perspective
12th June, 2013

Ugandan Minister of State for Water Resources, Ms Betty Bigombe says she along with Ms Kitty van der Heijden, Director of the Department for Climate, Environment, Energy and Water and the Ambassador for Sustainable Development, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs will jointly take the lead in putting water integrity in the global development agenda, especially in ongoing processes like the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

This was during the first Water Integrity Forum that came to a successful conclusion over the weekend in Delft, the Netherlands.

Logo2

Before making the declaration, Betty Bigombe and Kitty van der Heijden made an impromptu consultation during the closing session of the Forum.

Apart from this political support, the Water Integrity Forum also released a draft statement after intense consultations with the Forum participants who agreed to it in principle.

One of the highlights of the statement called for moving towards a universal code of conduct for individual and institutional behaviour.

The Forum statement cautioned that the costs of inaction are too high to remain passive.

The Forum and its partners call on governments, UN and other international organizations, the corporate sector and civil society to promote water integrity in their policies and actions.

The first Water Integrity Forum was jointly organized by the Water Integrity Network (WIN), UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education and the Water Governance Centre (WGC) in Delft, the Netherlands from 5 – 7 June 2013.

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It was attended by more than 100 water and integrity experts from over 60 organizations across the world.

The Forum took stock of progress made in addressing integrity challenges and helped in forging coalitions for expanding the base and increasing the pace on water integrity.

The Forum brought the problem of corruption out of the closet into the open and raising the stakes to address this challenge.

For more information on the forum, please visit: www.waterintegrityforum.com

June 1, 2013

AfDB Funds Mozambique’s Massingir Dam Emergency Rehabilitation Project

WaterSan Perspective Reporter
June 01, 2013

The African Development Bank has granted a supplementary loan of US$33.213 million to the government of Mozambique for the rehabilitation of the country’s Massingir Dam.

The funds will ensure effective sustainability of the Massingir Dam by preventing its collapse in the event of a heavy downpour.

 Missingir Dam in Mozambique


Missingir Dam in Mozambique

The Massinger Dam is located in the Limpopo National Park and is part of the Great Limpopo Trans frontier Park, a breeding ground for Nile crocodiles. Its rehabilitation will directly benefit the communities living in the project area and help improve food production.

When completed and fully operational, the upgraded dam will also contribute to poverty reduction in the region by supplying water for irrigation to towns and villages further away. Rehabilitation of the dam will also increase its hydropower generation.

Signing the agreement, the Bank’s Vice President for Sector Operations, Aly Abou-Sabaa, said the rehabilitation of the dam fell within the Bank’s strategy to support Africa’s development through the funding of sustainable energy infrastructure. He said the project was a milestone in the collaboration between Mozambique and the AfDB.

Mozambique Minister of Planning and Development, Aiuba Cuerencia, expressed his country’s gratitude to the Bank for its support to his country’s development in general and in its infrastructure sector, in particular. Cuerencia is also a Governor of the African Development Bank.

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