Reform of the urban water and sanitation sector

Programme description

Title: Reform of the urban water and sanitation sector
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Uganda
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Water and Environment
Overall term: 2014 bis 2017

Uganda. Girl at a prepaid water tap. © GIZ

Over the last ten years, Uganda has made enormous improvements to the population’s water supply and sanitation situation. Although more than 70% of urban residents now have access to water and sanitation services, the high population growth rate and increasing urbanisation mean that access is still inadequate, especially in urban slum areas. Together with the unrelenting overexploitation of water resources and their rising levels of pollution, water supply and sanitation constitute one of the biggest barriers to development in the country.

The enabling conditions for pro-poor, sustainable and efficient urban water and sanitation services are improved.

Uganda. Weather station in the east of the country. © GIZ

The reform of the Ugandan water sector aims to strengthen independent regulation, build efficient supply structures, improve the delivery of sanitation services and promote wastewater management, water resources management and climate change adaptation.

Aligned with the priorities set by the Ugandan Government (Vision 2040, National Development Plan, pro-poor strategy), the programme is pursing a number of approaches and measures:

  • The development of an independent regulatory authority is crucial for sustainable, pro-poor water supply and sanitation. In addition, the programme is examining the options for restructuring urban supply areas, with a view to establishing regional supply structures, where appropriate.
  • Based on citywide sanitation plans, that also prioritise the sustainable operation of infrastructure, the programme is disseminating empirically tested approaches.
  • The programme is assisting the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) to coordinate sanitation systems and faecal sludge management. To protect Lake Victoria’s water quality, the programme is enhancing cooperation between public and private actors engaged in pollution control.
  • The programme played a key role in orchestrating a national capacity development strategy for the water sector. The focus here is on the extensive expansion of relevant organisations as well as on basic and further technical training for operations and maintenance. Yet another priority area is the development and operation of a training centre for the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). The aim is to increase the proportion of women taking part in the training courses here.
  • In the field of water resources management, the programme is assisting the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) to devolve its functions. The newly established regional units of the Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWRM) are essential for integrated water resources management planning. In this regard, GIZ is focusing in particular on Karamoja, Uganda’s most arid and least developed region. Furthermore, the programme is assisting Uganda’s national water utility NWSC with the preparation of water source protection plans.
  • GIZ is supporting the newly formed Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) with the establishment of its weather forecasting systems and meteorological services.

Programme co-financiers are the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Supporting programme implementation are the consulting companies GFA Consulting Group and GOPA Infra jointly with Consultaqua as well as FCG International in cooperation with Metaferia Consulting Engineering.

Results achieved so far
The establishment of a regulatory department in the Ministry of Water and Environment with GIZ support and the introduction of basic regulatory instruments (tariffs, business plans, performance assessment) are key tools for holding service providers accountable and directing their focus towards improving supplies for poor population groups.

Successful models for water and sanitation services have been developed for the capital city Kampala and for smaller towns in Northern Uganda. These can now be rolled out across the board.

Furthermore, by helping to coordinate the control and treatment of industrial wastewater pollution, the programme has helped raise the efficiency of state oversight. In the long term, the objective is to reduce pollution levels in Lake Victoria, Kampala’s most important drinking water reservoir.

Through its support for the revision of water safety guidelines and the development of source protection plans, the programme is helping to improve water resource protection and water quality, thus making for safe consumption. The programme also supported the development of Uganda’s very first water catchment management plan.

Uganda. A river in flood. © GIZ