Water and sanitation experts from Africa on Monday started a four-day conference here to share experiences on how to accelerate access to water and sanitation, a key challenge on the continent.

The 20th African Water Association (AfWA) conference, with “breaking new grounds to accelerate access to water and sanitation for all in Africa” as the theme, is the largest water and sanitation sector gathering in Africa.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni urged the experts to tackle water issues holistically while opening the meeting.

Museveni said there is need to address electrification because people cut down trees for firewood which interferes with the water cycle.

“Water experts should be discussing how to encourage peasants to substitute firewood with electricity,” the president said.

He said there is need to protect the boundaries of water bodies in a bid to reduce siltation.

“River Kagera’s water is all brown because of too much agriculture which is not well organized. You can not talk about clean water without talking about the threats,” Museveni said.

He proposed that for lakes, 500 meters of the shore should be covered with vegetation, while for rivers, all farming activities should start from at least 50 meters away from the banks.

“We must protect the wetlands and recover those that have been encroached on. If we interfere with the water bodies, we shall be endangering the rain we get,” he said.

During the meeting, the experts will discuss new innovations, cooperation between nations among others in a bid to address the water and sanitation challenge in Africa.

The AfWA is a professional association of establishments, enterprises and utilities operating in the areas of drinking water, sanitation and environment in Africa. It has more than 100 utilities members from over 40 countries across Africa. Enditem

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