The NatuReS programme Uganda supported the Uganda Manufacturers’ Association (UMA) in hosting a first breakfast meeting on Friday, the 26th of March 2021, as part of the Uganda Water & Environment Week 2021. This annual weeklong event provides a platform for sector actors and other stakeholders to network, exchange knowledge and build working relationships.
The meeting aim was to create a platform of cooperation for the Ministry of Water & Environment and the Ugandan private sector, represented by UMA. Both are interested in fostering a working relationship. Consulting on issues of mutual interest and of relevance for natural resources stewardship will be an important part.
High-level decision-makers from the public sector and chief executives from the private sector participated, among which the chairperson of UMA, the Commissioner for Water Resources Planning & Regulation at the Ministry of Water and Environment, the Country CEO of Hima Cement Ltd., representatives from Steel and Tube Industries Ltd., Brittania Allied Industries, and Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.
Discussions focused on water and environment security in private sector operations. Frequent flash floods threaten e.g. industrial areas, namely Namanve, Ntinda and Bugolobi. They pose both an environmental threat and have a detrimental effect on business operations, as machinery can be damaged or access roads get blocked. For instance, recently employees at Namanve Industrial Park were blocked in their workstations due to floods having swallowed up the outgoing streets. Consequently, factories like Hima Cement Ltd. have embarked on improving drainage systems at their own costs within their boundaries.
Participants also discussed water pollution, another environmental threat affecting the private sector. For example, Jesa Farm Dairies, Uganda’s leading dairy processing company, extracts water for their operations from the River Mayanja. However, it is increasingly polluted. Therefore, Jesa increased its investments in water treatment to ensure availability of clean water for their operations.
The public sector is open to partner with the private sector in reducing water and environmental risks. During the event, participants long discussed ideas to leverage actions. Among others, they agreed to establish a roadmap for continuous engagement between stakeholders who are affected by and affect water resources and the environment.
In the end, participants agreed on a follow-up meeting at the Ministry to concretize their ideas. Also, similar meetings between private and public sector are now set to occur annually during Uganda Water & Environment Week.