Water, Environment agencies ask for more funds in next budget

Agencies under the Ministry of Water and Environment have called for adequate funding in financial year 2024/2025 to enable them achieve key planned outputs in the next budget cycle.

According to the Minister, Hon. Sam Cheptoris, low funding to the Ministry has failed to match the growing water demands and water use patterns, especially with high population growth that has surpassed the rate of infrastructure development.

“The government counterpart funding has not been forthcoming and this has affected project implementation and in some cases, caused delays in implementation,” said Cheptoris.

He said this while leading a team of agency officials under the Ministry, to respond to queries raised by legislators on the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, in regard to the Ministerial Policy statement for financial year 2024/2025.

The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Alfred Okot, attributed delays in project implementation for water supply and sanitation installations, to land acquisition challenges and high costs for location of investments.

“The global price escalation of key construction materials and demand by contractors for price adjustments has also increased cost estimates of projects. Vandalism of water infrastructure has also affected the functionality of systems,” Okot said.

Eng. Johnson Amayo, the Deputy MD Technical Services at National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), asked the Committee to adjust the Corporation’s budget ceiling upward to Shs142.97 billion to clear outstanding financial obligations for the SCAP 100 Programme, the Kampala Sanitation Programme and the Integrated Water Management and Development Project in Gulu.

Francis Ogwal, the Senior Manager for Environment Planning and Coordination at National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), presented funding requirements for the wage bill of its new approved structure (Shs5.93 billion), and establishment and equipping of NEMA regional offices (Shs24 billion).

The Committee Chairperson, Hon. Emmanuel Otaala, said they will engage the Ministry of Finance to provide better resources to the Ministry and its agencies.

“We shall continue to make appropriate recommendations with the hope that as we advance in the next financial year, the situation may improve and when government gets more revenues, supplementaries will be raised,” Otaala said.

He raised concerns about the exorbitant cost of solar powered water supply systems.

“We thought that supplying water for irrigation to 12 acres at a cost of Shs800 million is on the higher side. The public out there said they can buy a system at Shs150,000. We want you [Ministry] to work on mechanisms that can cut such costs,” Otaala added.

Cheptoris said the Ministry will investigate the charge to see whether it is appropriate.