Development of the urban water and sanitation sector

Project description

Title: Development of the urban water and sanitation sector
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development BMZ)
Country: South Sudan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (formerly the Ministry of Electricity, Dams, Irrigation and Water Resources)
Overall term: 2014 to 2017


South Sudan’s water infrastructure remains underdeveloped, primarily as a consequence of decades of civil war and insufficient investment. More than half of the country’s population lacks access to clean drinking water and even fewer people have adequate sanitation services. The most recent conflict, which flared up in July 2016, has further exacerbated this situation, especially for the internally displaced and the communities that host them.

In addition, the water and sanitation sector lacks the institutional framework needed to develop in a sustainable manner. The acute shortage of qualified staff and expertise affects all levels, from the water utility companies up to the responsible administrative bodies and ministries. South Sudan’s population is extremely poor and most people have no alternative but to use untreated water drawn from rivers, wells and springs. Making the situation even more challenging are high levels of internal migration, particularly returning refugees and internally displaced persons who are moving into urban centres.


The provision of drinking water and sanitation services for the poor urban population is improved.


GIZ is cooperating with the main stakeholders in the water sector at all levels and supports them in performing their tasks. In its first phase, the project advised the water ministry on drafting a water law that sets out a comprehensive legal framework for institutional reform in the water sector, and on formulating an investment plan. In addition, the project assisted partner institutions in devising initial regulatory instruments. The project was cofinanced by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) up to December 2014.

With assistance from the GFA Consulting Group and in close collaboration with local authorities, the project is currently providing three urban centres with support to satisfy the prerequisites for investments by KfW Development Bank in water and sanitation infrastructure, such as water kiosks and public sanitation facilities.

The project also provides financial and technical support for the sustainable operation of water and sanitation infrastructure. In cooperation with the project Capacity Development and Strengthening the Resilience of Local Governments, the project disseminated lessons learned with regard to improving the supply of drinking water and sanitation services throughout the sector. Measures are also being taken to ensure that the water utilities are able to continue operating in urban areas even during periods of crisis.

Similar to the action initiated when conflict broke out at the end of 2013, measures aimed at maintaining the supply of drinking water have been intensified and expanded in response to the most recent conflict in July 2016 and the renewed outbreak of cholera. These activities focus on ensuring safe water consumption among households.

The water utility companies established and supported by the project are selling clean drinking water to households mostly via water kiosks. However, the purchased water often becomes contaminated during transport or within the households themselves. Specially trained women called safe water champions are improving knowledge on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and encouraging proper practices. With support from the non-governmental organisation AMREF, 560 women are currently being selected and trained to act as multipliers. They will cover up to 11,200 households in the three partner towns of Yei, Torit and Yambio. The project helps households further by supplying water canisters, soap and chlorine tablets. Health centres are also receiving assistance in monitoring the occurrence of diarrhoeal diseases and cholera.


Awareness has been raised among people living in urban areas about hygiene and the proper handling of drinking water. Since the start of the conflict at the end of 2013, hygiene measures initiated by the project have reached 15,000 schoolchildren and more than 1,000 households. Around 4,000 people now have access to improved sanitation services in Juba and Yei and at least 30,000 people benefit from access to clean drinking water.

Three water utilities have been established and their staff trained in operations and maintenance. Three urban centres have met the prerequisites for investments by KfW Development Bank. The operator model introduced by GIZ has been recognised by the water ministry as a model for reform.

A draft of the water law is now awaiting ratification by Parliament. A sector strategy on urban water supply and sanitation services and an investment plan for the sector have been published. These constitute key steps towards institutional reform in the water sector.