Uganda’s media hailed for raising sanitation awareness

Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Water and Environment Alfred Okot hands Ronald Mugabe (right) his awards. ALL PHOTOS courtesy of WASH AWARDS COMMITTEE

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The media has been recognised as a crucial partner in improving the status of Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Uganda. This comes as the country continues to improve in water and sanitation coverage, although hygiene remains a challenge .

“Rural water coverage in Uganda’s rose from 67% in 2016 to 70% in 2017. The media played a role in this growth by creating awareness and educating the public,” said Lydia Mirembe, the Communications and Knowledge Management Advisor at International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) at the WASH media awards ceremony on Friday night.

Speaking on behalf of Uganda’s Civial Society Organisations, Mirembe shared key statistics related to water and sanitation, including the fact that only 37% of Ugandans wash their hands at critical moments like after visiting the toilet, wiping a baby and serving food.

“We have a long way to go to raise sanitation and hygiene levels, therefore we need to reach all  Ugandans with the message. There is no better partner than the media as your word is taken as gospel truth,” Mirembe said.

“We are here to celebrate this partnership,” she told guests at the 2nd WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) awards at the Sheraton.

Mugabe shines at media awards

New Vision journalist Ronald Mugabe was named overall winner of the 2017 WASH media awards. He also bagged awards in the Online, the Print Investigation and Print Human interest categories, taking home a sh4.5m cash prize (sh1.5m for each category).

Other categories were won by Jamira Muwonge (SPARK TV) for the television category, Javier Omogor of STEP FM in the radio category and Francis Emorut of New Vision in the multi-media category. Each won sh1.5m cash prize, a plaque and a certificate.

All the nominees explained what motivates their coverage of sanitation issues, saying it is a subject that affects life at the lowest levels in the country, which is part of their audience.

John Baptist Wasswa, who headed the panel that judged the nominees, said their review of submissions indicated a growing sanitation crisis across the country. “When a village cannot construct toilets, and asks government to help them, you know there is a sanitation crisis,” said Wasswa.

“Media should be part of the solution to this crisis including articulating the water and sanitation policy issues in their stories,” he said.

Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Water and Environment Alfred Okot Okidi echoed the challenges the sector faces and role of the media.

“Journalists play a central role in ensuring accountability from policy makers and implementers and positioning rights of citizens, and empowering them,” said Okot.

He challenged the media to engage the public, engage implementers, engage  policy makers to improve the national sanitation figures.

Javier Omogor of STEP FM Mbale won the radio category

What is WASH

The Uganda WASH media awards (UWMA) initiative is a collective sector effort aimed at recognising and encouraging news coverage of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) issues by local, national and international media so as to raise awareness of the importance of WASH.

The event is organised by the ministry of Water and Environment together Uganda Water and Sanitation Network (UWASNET), Water Aid Uganda, Unicef, SNV, National Hand Washing Initiative, International Water and Sanitation Center (IRC), World Vision, HAI Agency, OXFAM, GIZ, Fields of Life, AMREF Health, Plan international.

Amref Program Manager Mukasa Hajara indicated that they are celebrating the media for their uptake in influencing Water, Sanitation and Hygiene thus calling upon all players to use their respective fields to improve the WASH sector.

Marcia Tusiime, the Environmental Officer at the Ministry of Water & Environment said, “The sure way to articulate WASH in development is to recognise and encourage journalists who look out for and tell the stories about water, sanitation and Hygiene service delivery, and how it affects our socio-economic progress, as individuals, as communities and as a country,”

The Uganda WASH Media Awards first edition took place in 2016 and it was established by the Ministry of Water and Environment together with partners to reward excellent reporting on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

Organisers of the WASH awards led by Martha Naigaga, Sanitation Coordinator Ministry of Water and Environment. Below, WASH Awards partners get awards, and the judging panel led by veteran journalist JB Wasswa. Bottom, the nominees share their views on sanitation.


  • Susan Nanyanzi
  • Jamira Muwonge
SPARK TV  Winner
  • Kenneth Kavulu
BBS TV  3rd
  • John Okot
The Observer  R/up
  • John Semakula and Ronald Mugabe
New Vision  Winner
  •     Felix Basiime
Daily Monitor  3rd
  • John Semakula & Ronald Mugabe
New Vision  3rd
  • Geoffrey Mutegeki
New Vision  R/up
  • Ronald Mugabe
New Vision  Winner
  • Benjamin Jumbe
KFM  R/up
  • Javier Silas Omogor
Step fm-Mbale  Winner 
  • Irene Achan
Radiowa-lira 3rd
  • Martha Namugerwa
Watchdog  R/up
  • Ronald Mugabe
New Vision  Winner
  • Francis Emorut
  • Paul Tajuba
New Vision


Francis Emorut New Vision  Winner

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