The Uganda Minister for Water and Environment Hon. Maria Mutagamba plants a tree to commemorate the launch of the micro-credit /revolving fund for sanitation in Mutukula.
Uganda ’s Minister for Water and Environment Ms Maria Mutagamba and the Tanzanian Commissioner for Kageria Region retired Mr. Enos Mfuru last week joined hands to launch a landmark UN-HABITAT project aimed at benefitting the poor women living around Lake Victoria.
At the colourful ceremony held in the small border town of Mutukula, the two leaders hailed the UN-HABITAT microcredit/revolving fund scheme to accelerate improved sanitation for poor female headed households.
“What you see today is the baby of three visionary women and one man who saw the need to initiate efforts to support small towns in the Lake Victoria region to attain the water and sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals”, said Ms. Mutagamba, adding that “the mustard seed has grown into a tree”.
Challenging the local community to take ownership of the project and ensure its success, Ms. Mfuru urged the solidarity groups into which the women have been organized to ensure that the loans are repaid in a timely manner so that others can benefit from the scheme. “In this way, we shall challenge UN-HABITAT to support us in improving access to clean water at the household level, as they are already working with the Mutukula Town Council to improve water supplies in the town”, he said.
The Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Initiative, under which the microcredit/revolving fund scheme is being implemented, was launched at the World Water Week in Stockholm in 2004 by Ms. Mutagamba, Ms. Martha Karua who was the Minister for Water and Irrigation in Kenya, UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, and the then Minister for Water in Tanzania Mr. Antony Diallo.
The scheme was also launched in Nyendo – Ssenyange and Kyotera towns in Uganda as well as in Bukoba and Muleba in Tanzania in the same week attracting high level participation from government officials, politicians, community and religious leaders, and women and youth groups.
In Uganda and Tanzania, the sanitation microcredit scheme/ revolving fund scheme is being implemented in partnership with local NGOs, the Uganda Environmental Protection Forum and the Kagera Development and Credit Revolving Fund respectively. In Kenya, the sanitation microcredit scheme/ revolving fund scheme was launched in Bondo, Homa Bay and Kisii in December 2008 in partnership with another NGO, Sustainable Aid in Africa International. It is envisioned that at the end of the project, 27,000 people will have benefited from the sanitation microcredit scheme/ revolving fund scheme in the three countries
The scheme will train local artisans in construction of the latrines, and use locally available building materials to enhance local economic development. Communities in the towns will also be trained in project planning, implementation and management, basic book keeping skills, and the establishment and management of small scale savings and credit schemes.