Maps link clean water, sanitation, and poverty for Uganda's development

Oct. 7, 2009 -- A new report, Mapping a Healthier Future: How Spatial Analysis Can Guide Pro-Poor Water and Sanitation Planning in Uganda, was released today in Kampala...

• A new set of maps illustrating levels of clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, and poverty in Uganda will help guide national development planning

Oct. 7, 2009 -- "Limited access to clean water and sanitation threatens not only the health of Ugandans but also their education opportunities," said Disan Ssozi, assistant commissioner at Uganda's Ministry of Water and Environment, co-author of Mapping a Healthier Future: How Spatial Analysis Can Guide Pro-Poor Water and Sanitation Planning in Uganda -a new report released today in Kampala. "The maps and data in this report will help inform Uganda's water infrastructure planners and protect the nation's most vulnerable citizens."

In 2004, Uganda's central government set national targets to increase access to clean water and sanitation to 100 percent in urban areas and 77 percent in rural districts by 2015.

So far, Uganda's investment plans, which are expected to cost approximately US $1.4 billion, have helped improve drinking water coverage in rural sub-counties, from 25 percent in the early 1990s to 65 percent in 2009. However, work remains to be done to ensure that all areas meet national targets.

Mapping a Healthier Future finds that more than 14 million people live in 506 subcounties that are ahead of the interim target set by Uganda's planners while approximately 11 million people live in 323 rural subcounties that have not kept pace with national progress on safe drinking water rates. These areas will require special attention and additional investments to keep pace with population growth.

"This report demonstrates that the supply of high quality data combined with analytical capacity can provide new information," added John B. Male-Mukasa, executive director of the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, which supplied detailed, localized maps on poverty levels and sanitation. "Increased use of and support for map-based analysis will strengthen policy planning and will help the government prioritize water, sanitation, and poverty reduction efforts and allocate resources more efficiently."

Findings from the report also suggest that there is no clear spatial pattern between poverty rates and safe drinking water coverage rates, with past government investments targeting both poor and less poor areas. There are, however, strong geographic patterns in improved sanitation coverage rates, with lower coverage in northern and eastern Uganda, and higher coverage in central and southwestern parts of the country. Data behind the maps show a direct correlation in Uganda between high poverty rates and low access to improved sanitation.

"Improved access to clean water is essential for Uganda's continued development" said Francis Runumi Mwesigye, health planning commissioner at the Uganda Ministry of Health and co-author of the report. "Water- related illness reduces family members' ability to work and earn a living, exacerbating the threat of poverty."

Water-related diseases, such as hepatitis, typhoid, and cholera, caused eight percent of all deaths in Uganda in 2002. Young children are particularly susceptible. Water-borne diarrheal diseases account for 17 percent of the deaths of children under the age of five annually.

Runumi added, "Clean drinking water, sanitation facilities, and improved hygiene are proven weapons against such illnesses."

"This report is the result of successful collaboration between national ministries in Uganda and international organizations," said co-author Florence Landsberg, an associate at the World Resources Institute (WRI). "The maps and analysis presented show areas with similar poverty, water, and sanitation characteristics and will help national and local leaders coordinate their interventions to meet 2015 targets."

The report is the result of collaborative efforts between the Uganda Ministry of Health, theUganda Ministry of Water and Environment, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the International Livestock Research Institute, and the World Resources Institute.

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