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Reviews on Environmental Health

Editor-in-Chief: Carpenter, David O. / Sly, Peter

Editorial Board: Brugge, Doug / Edwards, John W. / Field, R.William / Garbisu, Carlos / Hales, Simon / Horowitz, Michal / Lawrence, Roderick / Maibach, H.I. / Shaw, Susan / Tao, Shu / Tchounwou, Paul B.

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Volume 29, Issue 4


A review of potable water accessibility and sustainability issues in developing countries – case study of Uganda

Shedrack R. Nayebare
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY, USA
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/ Lloyd R. Wilson
  • Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY, USA
  • Bureau of Water Supply and Protection, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Albany, NY, USA
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/ David O. Carpenter / David M. Dziewulski
  • Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY, USA
  • Bureau of Water Supply and Protection, New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), Albany, NY, USA
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/ Kurunthachalam Kannan
  • Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY, USA
  • Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY, USA
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Published Online: 2014-06-11 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2013-0019


Providing sources of sustainable and quality potable water in Uganda is a significant public health issue. This project aimed at identifying and prioritizing possible actions on how sustainable high quality potable water in Uganda’s water supply systems could be achieved. In that respect, a review of both the current water supply systems and government programs on drinking water in Uganda was completed. Aspects of quantity, quality, treatment methods, infrastructure, storage and distribution of water for different water systems were evaluated and compared with the existing water supply systems in the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean, for purposes of generating feasible recommendations and opportunities for improvement. Uganda utilizes surface water, groundwater, and rainwater sources for consumption. Surface water covers 15.4% of the land area and serves both urban and rural populations. Lake Victoria contributes about 85% of the total fresh surface water. Potable water quality is negatively affected by the following factors: disposal of sewage and industrial effluents, agricultural pesticides and fertilizers, and surface run-offs during heavy rains. The total renewable groundwater resources in Uganda are estimated to be 29 million m3/year with about 20,000 boreholes, 3000 shallow-wells and 200,000 springs, serving more than 80% of the rural and slum communities. Mean annual rainfall in Uganda ranges from 500 mm to 2500 mm. Groundwater and rainwater quality is mainly affected by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices. There are significant regional variations in the accessibility of potable water, with the Northeastern region having the least amount of potable water from all sources. Uganda still lags behind in potable water resource development. Priorities should be placed mainly on measures available for improvement of groundwater and rainwater resource utilization, protection of watersheds, health education, improved water treatment methods and distribution in rural areas, and pollution control and monitoring. Implementing these changes can promote potable water accessibility especially to the poor populations living in rural and urban slum areas because they comprise the majority (80%) of Uganda’s population.

Keywords: government legislations; potable water; water disinfection; water distribution; water pollution; water systems (surface water, groundwater and rainwater)


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About the article

Corresponding author: Shedrack R. Nayebare, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University at Albany, SUNY, Albany, NY 12201, USA, E-mail: ;

Received: 2013-12-03

Accepted: 2014-04-23

Published Online: 2014-06-11

Published in Print: 2014-12-06

Citation Information: Reviews on Environmental Health, Volume 29, Issue 4, Pages 363–378, ISSN (Online) 2191-0308, ISSN (Print) 0048-7554, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/reveh-2013-0019.

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