Water resources are finite and vary in quantity and quality across the country. Coupled with the multiple use and demands from an increasing population, this situation calls for better planning, efficient use, and protection and management of water resources for sustainability. Competition for water resources is increasing amidst climatic change. There is a need for a neutral forum in which the various stakeholders can interface and engage on these issues, ranging from the water and energy nexus, water and food security nexus, water and agriculture, etc. The Uganda water and environment sector is rich in terms of experience, however; much of this experience is not adequately documented and shared. There is also minimal dissemination of applied research findings to the end users for application.
The Water Resources Management (WRM) reform study (2003 to 2005), recommended the establishment of a Water Resources Institute to “address current and emerging water resources related issues in the country and globally.” Further to the reform studies, broad stakeholder consultation and benchmarking with similar water resources institutions at the national, regional and international level, the WRI is set up to address a number of challenges and gaps in the sector
• Low prioritization, fragmentation, and limited use of research undertaken in the implementation of activities across the sector
• Inadequate innovations in water and environment management to improve approaches that are being overtaken by increasing industrialization.
• A noticeable disconnect between the theoretical training from the academia and the skills required to adequately serve in the work environment. • A disconnect between the academia and the practice in content and delivery at different levels of training, as courses at some of the universities do not provide the comprehensive package of knowledge and skills required in the sector. The WRI will therefore undertake applied training to minimize this gap.
• Ad hoc-applied research in the sector with no specifically organized research programs, no delegated staff for applied research, and no outreach activities within the MWE, and the related Government and private institutions. The WRI will provide coordination of all efforts by serving as a central clearinghouse.
• Lack of deliberate succession planning of both managers/ leaders and the specialist personnel upon retirement. The WRI shall address this by providing personnel with the required training, skills and expertise to ensure continuity.
• Lack of a structured mechanism for regular multi-disciplinary and multi-sectorial policy dialogue to inform sector processes that allow those outside of the mainstream sector (private sector, academic institutions, religious institutions, etc.) to contribute to sector developments.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Vision 2040 and the second National Development Plan (NDPII) set ambitious targets for the country in general and specifically to the various sectors that make up the economy. The actions required to meet the targets will put increased pressure on the existing water and environment resources.
To meet Uganda’s 2040 economic growth targets, the current level of water delivery must be tripled, which will require substantive investment in environment and water management.
This calls for a forum in which water and environment issues can be objectively discussed, and innovations for optimal use of the water resources can be explored, agreed upon and pursued in a holistic manner.