by Sean Furey, RWSN Secretariat
It is with great sadness that we have heard of the passing of the Honorable Maria Mutagamba on 24 June, at the age of 64. Mrs Mutagamba was an economist and politician, who according to Wikipedia:
…was born in Rakai District on 5 September 1952. She studied at St. Aloysius Senior Secondary School in Bwanda, Kalungu District for her O-Level studies (1967–1970). She then attended Mount Saint Mary’s College Namagunga in Mukono District for her A-Level education (1971–1972). She attended Makerere University from 1973 until 1976, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in economics. She also held a Diploma in computer programming from the ICL Computer School in Nairobi, Kenya, obtained in 1980, and a certificate in executive leadership from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, obtained in 1997. In 2013, she was presented with an honorary doctorates in law from the Canadian McMaster University.
She served in various posts in the Government of Uganda, most recently as Minister for Tourism. However, she is best known to RWSN members as the State Minister for Water Resources, from 2000, and then Minister for Water and Environment between 2004 and 2012. During this period she served as President, African ministers’ council on water (AMCOW), (2004–2012).
Under her leadership, the Ministry of Water & Environment became internationally recognised as leading actor in African water management issues, with a capable civil service team and an open attitude to innovation and collaboration with international partners. Annual processes of Joint Sector Reviews and Sector Performance reporting became the gold standard of improving coordination, reporting and accountability across the WASH and water resources sectors.
I had the pleasure of meeting her when she came to open the 6th RWSN Forum in 2011 – of which she was a great supporter – and then again at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille. I was struck by how humble and thoughtful she was, yet also strong and with a keen intellect. She had a particular passion for rainwater harvesting, which she saw as an opportunity that was being missed.
According to the New Vision and other news sources, she had been suffering poor health for some time and died of liver cancer. Uganda has sadly lost a great water champion.
Photos: Hon. Maria Mutagamba opening the 6th RWSN Forum, Kampala, 2011