Uganda faces significant challenges in providing access to clean and safe drinking water for its population. According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) and the Ministry of Water and Environment, the national coverage for access to basic water services (1) stands at approximately 69%. However, there are notable disparities between urban and rural areas, with urban centers experiencing higher rates of access compared to rural regions.
In urban areas, approximately 79% of the population has access to basic water services, while in rural areas, only about 64% enjoy similar access. This rural-urban disparity reflects the ongoing struggle to extend water infrastructure and services to remote and underserved communities.
This rural-urban disparity underscores the severity of the water crisis, particularly in remote and underserved rural communities. While efforts have been made to improve water infrastructure and services in urban centers, rural areas continue to grapple with limited access to clean water sources. The challenges are multifaceted, encompassing not only lower rates of access but also the pervasive issues of water quality, sanitation facilities, and increased vulnerability to waterborne diseases.
Between 55%–85% of rural households in Uganda (2) access water that does not meet the minimum required standard. Poor water quality in rural areas of Uganda is attributed to factors (3) such as high population pressure and increased industrialisation, consequently leading to untreated wastewater, sewage, and other dangerous organic matter and chemicals entering the water supply system. Untreated organic matter (4) and that containing faecal coliform or parasites (5) can be harmful to the environment and the end-users. When this happens, the end-users are faced with a variety of health challenges. For instance, periodic outbreaks of waterborne diseases (6) were reported in Uganda within the period of 2009–2021 mainly due to poor water safety and hygiene-associated causes.
The Ugandan government has recognized the urgency of addressing these issues and has implemented various initiatives. In 2018, the country reported to have started implementing the Water & Environment Sector Performance Measurement Framework (2016) (7), to address the need for improved water services and sanitation measures, good governance and climate change. Despite these efforts, challenges persist, including insufficient funding, population growth outpacing infrastructure development, and the impacts of climate change on water resources. At Project Maji, we recognize the urgency of Uganda's water crisis and have decided to take action. Our commitment is clear: to directly address the local water crisis by implementing sustainable, solar-powered water solutions. Despite persistent challenges like insufficient funding and climate change impacts, we firmly believe that collaborative efforts with the government, NGOs, and international partners are the key to creating lasting change. Starting our operations in Uganda is a crucial step in this journey, and we are dedicated to bringing innovative and reliable water solutions to both urban and rural communities.