Championing Public Health MPs to table a Bill to penalize public littering

By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho

Members of Ugandan parliament have come together to make a bill that will see the end of public littering of the streets and living in unhygienic homes in Uganda will soon be punishable by law if Parliament passes the Uganda National Works Bill.

Jackie Amongin, the Chairperson of Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) has revealed while speaking during a virtual conference said that the Bill which has been shelved for long, needs to be re-considered for debate in Parliament owing to the demands of Covid-19 on hygiene and sanitation.

Amongin noted that countrywide, the burden of waste collection and management has been abandoned to government and as a result, more homes and towns are in a sorry state.

“We are witnessing degeneration of sanitation in communities; garbage is disposed on roads, polythene materials are littered everywhere and we think it is government’s role” said Amongin.

She added that, “in this Bill, we want to change the attitude of Ugandans, we want people to clean their homes and their neighborhood as it was common in the past.”

The Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga who officiated at the e-conference on Tuesday, 6 October 2020 at Hotel Africana in Kampala, asked assured the MPs that the Bill which was read for the first time be considered for a second reading.

Rebecca Kadaga committed Parliament’s support to the Bill and called on Members of Parliament to use the forthcoming campaigns for the 2021 general elections, to advocate for hand washing, which she said has been abandoned amidst a rise in Coivd-19 cases.

“During the just concluded NRM Party primaries, someone asked whether I have ever seen someone with Covid-19 for them to believe my message on the need to observe hand washing. I had a lot to explain,” said Kadaga.

Kadaga was concerned that there is hardly any enforcement on hand washing in the rural areas. “It is as if enforcement is happening only in urban areas. Even the hand washing facilities we provided for, no one is using them because there is no one enforcing the standard operating procedures.”

Kadaga said that for a significant improvement in matters of sanitation and hygiene, government must strengthen enforcement, education and increase to water access.

The acting Director for Water and Development in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Joseph Eyatu, said that because of Covid-19, Uganda has registered an increase in hand washing, with both the urban and rural areas registering a 61 per cent and 38 per cent increase respectively.

Joseph Eyatu added that his ministry is reviewing the 25 year-old Water Policy and Water Act, which they hope will address the existing gaps in WASH and the demands presented by Covid-19.

“So many things have changed and many of those changes are not catered for in the existing law. We are reviewing the law which we expect to be ready in two months for tabling before Parliament,” said Eyatu.