The First Lady and Minister for Karamoja Affairs Mrs. Janet Museveni has lauded the spirit of social responsibility and giving back to the community exhibited by the people who come together every year to organize the MTN Kampala Marathon.
“Not only does the event raise funds for the much needed assistance to some of our poor and remote communities, thus improving their quality of life, but it also raises the consciousness of our young people about the need to reach out and help those in need around them. I pray that this culture of selfless giving will take root and grow in our society”, she said.
Mrs. Janet Museveni made the remarks last week after receiving a dummy cheque worth 450 Million Uganda Shillings, raised from the over 20,000 people who participated in the 2014 MTN Kampala Marathon held under the theme “Run for Water” last November.
The proceeds will facilitate the implementation of a project to increase safe and clean water and sanitation to the people of Kotido District.
She received the cheque on behalf of the people of Karamoja from the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of MTN Uganda, Huawei, New Vision Group, Stanbic Bank, Rwenzori Bottling Company and the Uganda Athletics Federation; the main sponsors of the 2014 MTN Kampala Marathon who converged at Entebbe State House.
It was witnessed by Kotido MPs and District leadership plus officials from the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs led by the Permanent Secretary Office of the Prime Minister Mrs. Christine Guwatudde Kintu.
The First Lady, who also handed over the cheque to Kotido District leadership, thanked the marathon organizers for selecting Districts in Karamoja region as the beneficiaries to their generosity for two consecutive years.
The communities in Nakapiripirit District benefitted from the 400 million shillings raised by the 2013 MTN Marathon, which was used to increase provision of clean and safe water, rehabilitation of water sources and improvement of hygiene.
She said it is heartening that Kotido District is now the 2014 MTN Marathon beneficiary since it is one of the most water stressed areas in north-eastern Uganda with safe water coverage of only 46% and latrine coverage of only 20%, which has caused endemic water-born and hygiene-related diseases.
She attributed the continued lack of access to clean and safe water by communities in Karamoja to the major problem of lack of maintenance of the existing boreholes over the years and also pointed out the new challenge of some of the population that has relocated to new settlements in greener belts which do not have any clean and safe water facility.
She said she has requested the Ministry of Water and Environment to ensure budgeting for the maintenance of the water facilities in Karamoja, and pledged to encourage the beneficiaries of the new water sources to keep them in good working condition.
In his remarks on behalf of the MTN Marathon partners, the CEO MTN Brian Gouldie said the initiative creates an opportunity for all Ugandans and non-Ugandans to contribute to the development of the country.
He said that over the last 11 years, the marathon has grown to become a significant annual event in Uganda with people of all walks of life participating.
The support to water provision is in line with the national priorities.
He reported that the proceeds of the 2013 MTN Marathon enabled the construction of 18 boreholes that benefit 5,400 people, constitution and training of 18 community water user committees and 29 cluster heads, as well as training 54 people in operation and maintenance and 5 school clubs plus 6 hygiene educators in hygiene and sanitation.
The Permanent Secretary Office of the Prime Minister Mrs. Christine Guwatudde Kintu who led a team of officials from the Karamoja Ministry commended the wonderful partnership of running for water and thanked MTN and its partners in the Marathon for supporting the mandate of the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister to ensure that Karamoja has clean and safe water as well safe sanitation. She said that the Ministry of Karamoja Affairs has provided dams and valley tanks in the region but still the optimal supply of water needed in Karamoja has not been reached.
The Kotido 450 Million Shillings safe and clean water project expected to be implemented by Water Aid Uganda will last 7 months from April to October 2015.
It will include construction and rehabilitation of boreholes, increasing household hygiene and sanitation coverage, establishing water, sanitation and hygiene dialogue platforms and integrating village savings and loans associations.