World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Water supply and sanitation in Uganda


Water supply and sanitation in Uganda

Uganda: Water and Sanitation
Access to water 72% (JMP, 2010),[1] 66% (MWE, 2011) [2]
Access to sanitation 34% (JMP, 2010 estimate),[1] 70% in rural areas and 81% in urban areas (MWE, 2011 estimate) [2]
Continuity of supply (%) 20–24 hours per day in large towns [3]
Average urban water use (liter/capita/day) 44 [4]
Average urban water tariff (US$/m³) 0.64[5]
Share of household metering 99% in large towns (2006)[6]
Annual investment in water supply and sanitation US$2.37 per capita[7][8][9]
Sources of financing Mainly external donors
Decentralization to municipalities Since 1997:
To districts, towns and sub-counties[10]
National water and sanitation company National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), in large towns
Water and sanitation regulator None
Responsibility for policy setting Ministry of Water and Environment
Sector law None
Number of urban service providers n/a
Number of rural service providers n/a

This article has last been updated on substance in July 2012. Please feel free to further update it if need be.

The Ugandan water supply and sanitation sector has made substantial progress in urban areas since the mid-1990s, with substantial increases in coverage as well as in operational and commercial performance.[11] Sector reforms in the period 1998-2003 included the commercialization and modernization of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) operating in cities and larger towns, as well as decentralization and private sector participation in small towns. [12]

These reforms have attracted significant international attention. However, 38% of the population still had no access to an improved water source in 2010. Concerning access to improved sanitation, figures vary widely: According to government figures it was 70% in rural areas and 81% in urban areas,[2] while according to UN figures it was only 34%.[1]

The water and sanitation sector has been recognized as a key area under the 2004 Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), Uganda's main strategy paper to fight poverty.[13] A comprehensive expenditure framework has been introduced to coordinate financial support by external donors, the national government, and NGOs.[14] The PEAP estimates that from 2001 to 2015, about US$1.4 billion, or US$92 million per year, are needed to increase water supply coverage up to 95%.[15]


  • Access 1
  • Service quality 2
    • Continuity of supply 2.1
    • Drinking water quality 2.2
    • Wastewater treatment 2.3
    • Customer satisfaction 2.4
  • Water resources 3
    • Overview 3.1
    • Lake Victoria 3.2
  • Water use 4
  • History and recent developments 5
    • The reform of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation 5.1
  • Legal framework 6
  • Responsibility for water supply and sanitation 7
    • Policy and regulation 7.1
    • Service provision 7.2
    • Cities and towns 7.3
    • Small towns 7.4
    • Rural areas 7.5
    • Other functions 7.6
  • Economic efficiency 8
    • Non-revenue water 8.1
    • Labor productivity 8.2
  • Financial aspects 9
    • Tariffs and cost recovery 9.1
    • Investment and financing 9.2
  • External cooperation 10
    • Joint Water and Sanitation Sector Programme Support 10.1
    • African Development Fund 10.2
    • European Union 10.3
    • World Bank 10.4
  • References 11
  • Further reading 12
  • External links 13


Access to an improved water source increased from 43% in 1990 to 72% in 2010, according to estimates by the Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation of the United Nations. In the same period, access to improved sanitation increased slightly from 27% to 34%.[1] However, the Water and Environment Sector Performance Report of the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Irrigation shows completely different access figures. According to the report, in 2011 access to "safe water" was 66% while access to improved sanitation was 70% in rural areas and 81% in urban areas.[2]

87% of the population lived in rural areas in 2010.[1] Apparently the government's definition of access to safe water is stricter than the JMP definition of an improved water source, and the government's definition of improved sanitation is less strict than the JMP definition. The differences in definitions complicate the monitoring of targets for access.

According to the EU, the number of people defecating in the open has fallen substantially between 2000 and 2008, although the government provides no subsidies for the construction of latrines.[16] However, according to the JMP estimates the number of people defecating in the open has only declined from 3.5 million in 2000 to 3.2 million in 2010.[2] It is not clear if the different assessments of the magnitude of the reduction are due to differences in definitions or other reasons.

The most common technology options for rural water supply are protected springs, boreholes, protected wells, and gravity flow schemes.[17] Those who do not have access to an improved source of water supply have to rely on unsafe sources such as rivers, lakes, and unprotected wells. One consequence of poor access and/or quality is that water-borne diseases are a main cause of infant mortality.[18] Access to functioning water sources varies considerably among districts, from 12% to 95%.[7]

The national government aims to reach universal water supply and sanitation coverage in urban areas and 77% water supply and 95% sanitation coverage by 2015.[19]

Service quality

Continuity of supply

According to Maxwell Stamp PLC, in Kampala, the capital, those who receive piped water supply were "usually" supplied continuously for 24 hours per day in 2003.[20] However, the National Water and Sewer Company acknowledged that parts of Kampala such as Kyaliwajala, Kulambiro and most places on hilltops suffer from chronic water shortages. In addition, some areas go without water for a week when repairs are undertaken.[21] In other towns, most customers were supplied on more than five days per week.[20] MWE indicated in 2006 that piped water in large towns is usually available for 20–24 hours per day.[3]

Drinking water quality

Under the fourth Water and Sanitation Sector Performance Assessment, based on analyses by several subsectors and NGOs carried out in 2006, it was found that 90% and 95% of the water samples taken from protected and treated water supplies, respectively, met national standards for drinking water quality. This assessment comprised both rural and urban water supply.[22]

Wastewater treatment

As of 2012, 90% of the collected wastewater of Kampala is discharged without any treatment. NWSC operates a small conventional sewage treatment plant in Kampala and another in Masaka.[23] In the case of Kampala, the wastewater is discharged into the Nakivubo wetland. The wetland is estimated to provide economic benefits of up to US$1.75 million per year, removing nutrients from untreated and partially treated wastewater discharged from Kampala through the wetland into Lake Victoria.[24][25]

As part of a Sanitation Master Plan for Kampala carried out by Fichtner Consultants with financing from Germany, four wastewater treatment plants are planned. The plants include a plant with a capacity of 45,000 m³/day at Nakivubo, a plant with a capacity of 8,000 m³/day at Kinawataka, a fecal sludge treatment plant with a capacity of 200 m³/day at Lubigi and another plant at Nalukolongo. The plan also foresees the construction of ecological latrines at schools, market places and health centres, hygiene education at schools.[26][27] The investments will be funded by the European Union, the World Bank, the African Development Bank and Germany. The existing plant at Bugolobi will be decommissioned once the new plants will become operational.[28]

In smaller towns NWSC operates 21 sewage stabilization ponds.[23] According to the MWE, an analysis of municipal effluents carried out in July 2008 revealed that NWSC's wastewater treatment facilities mostly do not meet national standards. Out of 223 data sets, 12% complied with Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) standards, 26% with Phosphorus standards and 40% with total suspended solids standards. This leads to the pollution of water bodies from which in turn raw water is extracted.[7] In a few cases sewage is disposed directly into the environment without any treatment.[29] The lack of functioning wastewater treatment poses a threat to the environment and human health.

Customer satisfaction

A customer satisfaction survey was carried out in 2009-2010 for all towns served by NWSC. It covered questions such as satisfaction with water reliability, water pressure, water quality, timely and accurate water bills, responsiveness in resolving complaints, responsiveness in effecting new connections, customer care, and the convenience of the bill payment process. Out of 5319 customers contacted in a stratisfied sample, 2731 responded. Customer care received the highest rating, while water quality and pressure received lower, but still overall good ratings. A customer satisfaction index was calculated across all questions, showing that 85% of customers are satisfied, up from 83% during the last survey. Satisfaction was highest in Hoima, Iganda and Masindi at 95% and lowest in the central Ugandan town of Mubende, where now customer care officer or desk exists, at 62%. In Kampala satisfaction was 83%. Customers appreciated the ambiance in local offices, that phone calls are made to remind customers of payment, that customers can settle their arrears through payment plans in exceptional cases, and that water cuts are announced through the radio. Customers complained about low water pressure, muddy water during the wet season, supply interruptions during the dry season, low water pressure, slow implementation of new connections, erratic bills, disconnection despite having paid their water bills, and the rudeness of field staff.[30]

Water resources

Rivers and lakes of Uganda.


As a whole, Uganda has more than enough freshwater. Estimates indicate 66 km³ of renewable water resources per year, which correspond to approximately 2,800 m³ per person and year. However, the distribution of the resource is uneven both in spatial and temporal terms. Furthermore, freshwater is increasingly exploited through population growth, urbanization, agriculture, and industrialization.

The rivers, lakes and wetlands cover about 18% of Uganda's total surface, including Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake and one of the major sources of the Nile River, the longest river of the world. Almost the entire country lies within the Nile basin. Rainfall contributes most to the country's surface and groundwater. The average annual rainfall ranges from 900 mm in the semi-arid areas of Kotido to 2000 mm on the Sese Islands in Lake Victoria.[31]

There is a lack of groundwater recharge assessments in Uganda, which is why the potential of groundwater is not known. However, regional assessments in Ugandan towns have indicated that groundwater recharge meets the current abstraction volumes. In order to monitor the quantity and quality of groundwater and surface water, the National Water Resources network has been established under the responsibility of the Water Resources Management Department (WRMD).[31]

Lake Victoria

The water level in Lake Victoria has been receding with manifold consequences, including the need for additional investments to extend the water intakes supplying the cities of Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja. Between 2003 and 2006 the lake has lost 75 billion cubic meters, about 3% of its volume. The causes of the decline are disputed. According to some reports it is due to a 10-15% decline in rainfall in the lake's basin.[32] According to Daniel Kull, at the time a hydrologist with the UN's International Strategy for Disaster Reduction in Nairobi, the drought would have caused only half the water loss actually seen if two hydroelectric dams at the outlet of the Lake into the White Nile had been operated during the past two years according to the "agreed curve" determined in an agreement from 1953 on the Nile flows between Uganda and Egypt.[32] Sandy-Stevens Tickodri-Togboa, Professor of Engineering Mathematics at Makerere University, disagrees and calculated that the drought caused 80 to 85% of the decline.[33]

Kampala and Entebbe are supplied with water from Lake Victoria through four treatment plants: Ggaba I, II and III as well as a recently built plant in Katosi in Mukono District.

Water use

According to the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), water use in rural areas ranges between 12 and 14 liters per capita and day (l/p/d). In urban towns and centers with a population of more than 5,000 people, the PEAP estimates an average of less than 17 l/p/d. The national target is to reach an average consumption of 20 l/p/d.[34]

According to the NWSC's annual report, the utilities' total water production from July 2007 to June 2008 (fiscal year 2007/2008) for 23 towns was 63.6 million m³, of which more than three quarters or 79% were produced in Kampala. 46.9% or 29.8 million m³ of NWSC's total water was used by domestic customers. Divided by the 1,944,741 people whom NWSC served at the end of June 2008, this corresponds to 15.3 m³ per capita and year or 44 l/p/d.[4]

History and recent developments

The first piped water systems were completed during the colonial period in the 1930s. Water-borne sewerage was introduced after 1937. The construction of new facilities increased from 1950 to 1965 under the framework of large national development programs.[35] Later, the existing systems were partly maintained and no new facilities were constructed until 1990. According to a UN-Water document, by 1990 the urban water infrastructure served less than 10% of the population in large towns.[36]

Around the end of the 1980s, international donors began to invest substantial financial resources to rehabilitate and renew the water network in Kampala.[37] For example, the World Bank contributed US$60 million under the Water Supply Project, which was active from 1990 to 1998 (see below).[38] Although the financial support helped to rehabilitate the infrastructure, the commercial performance of NWSC was still unsatisfactory.[37]

The reform of the National Water and Sewerage Corporation

Description of the reform process The National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) was created as a government-owned parastatal organization in 1972 under the national administration of Idi Amin Dada, serving only the capital Kampala as well as Entebbe and Jinja.[39] Subsequently its service area gradually grew to incorporate large and mid-sized towns all over Uganda, reaching a total of 23 cities and towns in 2008, and 40 cities and towns in another extension of its service area in February 2014.[40]

In 1995 and 2000, it was reorganized under the NWSC Statute and NWSC Act, giving it substantial operational autonomy and the mandate to operate and provide water and sewerage in areas entrusted to it, on a sound, commercial, and viable basis.[41] Internal reforms at NWSC started in 1998, beginning with a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis initiated by a new management team. At that time, the utility benefited from a recently rehabilitated water and sewerage infrastructure including abundant water production capacity and a high level of metering, a competent senior management team, and a good and enabling water legislative framework providing NWSC with relative autonomy. On the other hand, NWSC was in bad condition with regard to operational and financial aspects. For example, non-revenue water, water which is produced but not billed for several reasons such as leakage and illegal connections, stood at 60%. The utility was heavily overstaffed and staff costs accounted for 64% of the total operating costs.[42]

In late 1998, the national government appointed Dr. William Tsimwa Muhairwe as the Managing Director of NWSC. He had been managing public companies in Uganda and elsewhere. Under a new board, more emphasis was placed on commercial viability. At the same time, political interference within the utility was reduced. The new management soon drew up several programs to implement the principles, the first of which was the 100-days program, aiming to adjust operational and financial inefficiencies.[11]

Programs to improve financial and operational efficiency of NWSC[43]
Program Objective(s) Measures Time of implementation
100-days program Reverse of operational and financial inefficiencies Improved revenue collection and cost-cutting measures February 1999-May 1999
Service and revenue enhancement program Restoring customer confidence Introduction of service centers and help desks, customer surveys August 1999-August 2000
Area and service performance contracts Commercial sustainability Managers were given more autonomy and liability through performance contracts 2000–2003
Stretch-out program Improving team work More staff involvement, flatter hierarchical structure 2002–2003
One-minute management program Individual performance accountability Incentives for achievements of individual goals 2003
Internally delegated area management contracts (IDAMCs) Increasing autonomy and liability of area managers Internal contracts including explicit targets and incentives Since 2003

Since 2000, NWSC has worked under performance contracts with the national government, each covering three years. The contracts contain precise performance indicators, which the NWSC is expected to achieve. For example, the 2003-2006 contract required NWSC to reduce NRW from 39% in 2003 to 36% in 2006. Simultaneously, inactive connections should be reduced from 21% to 13%. In order to encourage management to achieve the targets, an incentive element of 25% of the annual basic salary depended on the fulfillment of the contract. Each year the NWSC board decides the appropriate bonus rate that the NWSC management receives.[44]

Results and analysis The improvement of the utility concerning access and operational performance is indisputable. Some of the achievements are:

Performance indicators for NWSC (1998–2012)[45]
Operating profit
before depreciation
(EBDIT) (USh bn)[47]
1.5 3.0 11.0 18.0 16.0 30.4 36.1 39.8
Non-revenue water [48] 51% 43% 38% 33% 33% 33% 33% 34%
Collection efficiency 60% 76% 98% 92% 92% 96% 98% 96%
Connections [49] 51,000 59,000 100,000 181,000 202,000 272,400 296,200 317,300
Employees 1784 1454 949 1388 1691 1773 1858
Labor productivity
(Employees/1,000 connections)
35 25 9 8 7 6 6

Interestingly, the utility has been turned around without a tariff increase, except for inflation adjustments and a 10% increase to compensate the utility for a reduction in connection fees. Instead, the reform focused on increasing the number of connections, an effective computerized billing system, improving customer relations and communications, as well as better incentives and training for staff.[50]

One factor that partially explains the drastically improved collection rates is a new government policy of paying the unpaid water bills of public entities, beginning in 1999. The significant increase in new connections is partially explained by a drastic reduction of connection charges, also in 1999, from 400,000 Shillings (US$274) to 25,000 Shillings (US$17).[37] Flexibility in technical requirements (waiving of land title requirements, easing construction standards, post-processing of new connection forms) was also key to increasing water service coverage in the urban poor communities.[51] Schwartz points out that the success of NWSC since 1998 was favored by a high level of support by international donors and lending agencies as well as national ministries,[52] the leadership of top management, a highly professional staff, and strong institutional cultures.[53]

NWSC has received ISO 9001:2000 certification for fourteen of its service areas, including Kampala, by June 2008. The company also provides training to utilities in Tanzania, Zambia and soon in Nigeria. Building on its success, NWSC has set itself the vision "to be one of the leading water utilities in the world".[54]

Towards the end of 2008, NWSC management introduced another management initiative codenamed, the "Raving Water Fans" aimed at improving customer service and, in the long run, willingness to pay and revenues. The initiative is based on a concept developed Raving Fans by the management expert Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles that emphasizes "the 3Ds": Deciding what you want, Discovering what the customer wants and Delivering plus 1% of what the customer expects.[55]

Legal framework

The current institutional sector framework is based on several policy reforms in the water sector since the mid-1990s. Water supply and sanitation are recognized as key issues under the national Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), prepared first in 1997 and revised in 2001 and 2004. The PEAP is the key government document for fighting poverty through rapid economic development and social transformation.[13]

The 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda instructs the Ugandan State to take all practical measures to promote a good water management system at all levels and defines clean and safe water as one of its 29 objectives.[56] The current legislative water sector framework was introduced with the 1995 Water Statute, which has the following objectives:[57]

  • Promotion of rational water use and management
  • Promotion of the provision of a clean, safe, and sufficient domestic water supply to all people
  • Promotion of the orderly development of water and its use for other purposes, such as irrigation and industrial use, among others, in ways that minimize harmful effects to the environment
  • Pollution control and promotion of safe storage, treatment, discharge, and disposal of waste that may cause water pollution or other threats to the environment and human health.

In accordance with the national constitution, chapter eleven,[56] the Local Government Act of 1997 provides for the decentralization of services, including the operation and maintenance of water facilities for local governments in liaison with the ministries responsible for the sector.[58]

Finally, the National Water Policy (NWP), adopted in 1999, promotes the principles of Integrated Water Resources Management, a comprehensive approach to water supply. In addition, the NWP recognizes the economic value of water, promotes the participation of all stakeholders, including women and the poor, in all stages of water supply and sanitation, and confirms the right of all Ugandans to safe water.[59]

Responsibility for water supply and sanitation

Policy and regulation

The lead agency for formulating national water and sanitation policies, coordinating and regulating the sector is the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE).[60] The Directorate of Water Development (DWD) under the MWE acts as the executive arm and provides support to local governments and other service providers.[61]

Economic and performance regulation. There is no independent economic regulatory body for water supply. Tariffs are proposed by NWSC and need to be approved by MWE. NWSC is regulated by contract according to a performance contract with the national government. The Performance Review Committee (PRC) under the MWE reviews the performance of NWSC according to the contract. However, the PRC is partly financed by the NWSC, which may hinder the full independence of the committee.[62]

NWSC regulates its local branch offices through internal contracts that are monitored by its internal monitoring and regulation department.

Environmental regulation. Environmental regulation is carried out by the DWD and the National Environment Management Authority.

Drinking water quality regulation. According to Schwartz, the Directorate of Water Development (DWD) is expected to monitor the quality of drinking water provided by NWSC. However, in practice NWSC monitors its drinking water quality internally without any complementary external monitoring.[63] NWSC's internal Quality Control Department examines whether the supplied water complies with the national standards for drinking water, which in turn follow the pH, color, turbidity, residue chlorine and E. coli. The results are available at the official NWSC website and mostly comply with the national standards.[64] Where NWSC does not provide the service, districts are responsible for water quality monitoring. According to the MWE, this is done insufficiently and data are scarce.[7]

Service provision

A Ugandan girl at a well

Cities and towns

In 22 cities and large towns water supply and sewerage - where it exists - is provided by the National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), a public utility working on a commercial basis. In 2007 it provided services to 1.8 million people out of 2.5 million in Kampala, Jinja/Lugazi, Entebbe, Tororo, Mbale, Lira, Gulu, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabale, Kasese and Fort Portal, Bushenyi/Ishaka, Soroti Arua, Masindi, Malaba, Iganga, Hoima, and Mubende. The smallest town served, Hoima, has a population of only 9,000. The NWSC operates under the MWE.[65]

Besides its performance contracts with the national government and its internal contracts beginning in 2000, NWSC also had two consecutive service contracts for billing and collection (called "management contracts") with foreign companies in Kampala. The first management contract between NWSC and the German company H.P. Gauff Ingenieure started in July 1998 and ended in June 2001. The second contract with the French company OSUL (Ondeo Services Uganda Limited) ran from February 2002 and February 2004. Under both contracts, NWSC's financial and operational indicators continued to improve. However, a study by the Boston Institute for Developing Economies concludes that the improvements were not due to private sector participation, but to overall reforms of NWSC initiated before the service contracts were signed and continued while they were being implemented.[37]

Small towns

In small towns with a population between 5,000 and 30,000, facilities are owned and managed by local governments, supported by the MWE. Many have created Water Authorities, which contract out water services under 3-year contracts to local private operators since about 2000. At the beginning, private participation in small towns faces major challenges such as inexperienced local governments and private operators, limited public spending, and poor user participation.[66]

By 2010, 80 small towns with 35,000 connections were served by private operators. Service quality and user satisfaction have improved after the private operators took over the systems.[67] But according to the Association of Private Water Operators (APWO) the contracts are too short to compensate the small, local private operators for their initial efforts in setting up their operations.[68] Due to low tariffs and lack of funding for investments the private operators largely failed to expand the water system to connect the poor. Therefore, in 2005 the International Finance Corporation and the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) designed a pilot project to provide performance-based subsidies to private operators to expand access to the poor.[69]

Under the Uganda Water Small Towns and Rural Growth Centers project, private operators are eligible for output-based aid (OBA). Up to 55% of the output-based aid subsidies are paid to the private operators during construction, a second payment is made after successful completion and a last payment after successful operation, all verified by an independent technical auditor. The project expands the management contract approach, addressing some of its flaws. Under the project local governments bid out so-called design-build-operate contracts that include investments and have a duration of 5–10 years. It is carried out in Eastern Uganda in 6 small towns with existing piped water systems (Kamuli, Nawanyago, Palisa, Tirinyi, Nankoma and Busembatia) and 4 so-called rural growth centers that do not have piped water systems yet. New household yard taps and public standpoints for about 45,000 poor beneficiaries are planned. GPOBA approved the project in February 2007 and provided a US$3.2 million grant. The project was initially expected to end in February 2010.[70]

As of 2010, competitively awarded contracts had been signed in all 10 localities. 450 yard taps have been completed and verified so far, serving 8,100 people, with more being under construction. The grant financing per capita is lower than under traditional approaches, and in three towns the winning bidder did not even request any subsidy, relying entirely on the expected tariff revenues to recover its investment and operating costs.[69] In one case, a commercial Ugandan Bank provided a loan of $100,000 to the winning bidder to finance the construction works.[71]

Local governments in two towns in Northern Uganda, devastated by decades of Civil War, tried to apply this approach in 2009. In Kitgum, a town with 55,000 inhabitants, four bids were received and a contract was awarded in the summer of 2009 with a target to more than double the number of connections and water production, and to triple revenues collected without increasing tariffs in three years. In the much smaller town of Pader with 8,500 inhabitants, four bids were received, but none was responsive so that the town council continued to operate the system.[72]

Rural areas

In rural areas, local governments at district levels are responsible for the adequate operation and maintenance of water systems. Responsibility for sanitation promotion and hygiene education in communities and schools is vested in the MWE, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education and Sports.[73]

Other functions

Besides the MWE, several other national ministries play a role in the sector. The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development coordinates funding and donor support. The Ministry of Local Government is expected to support decentralized government systems, which manage their own water facilities. The Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is responsible for the promotion of gender-responsive development and community mobilization. The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries oversees water use for irrigation.

Concerning sanitation, the Environmental Health Division (EHD) under the Ministry of Health is in charge of an integrated sanitation strategy for the country, and the Ministry of Education and Sports is responsible for health, sanitation, and hygiene in schools. All the abovementioned ministries, together with the Ministry of Public Service, development partners, and civil society, form the Water and Sanitation Sector Working Group, which meets quarterly.[74]

Economic efficiency

As described above, the NWSC has substantially improved its operational and financial performance since it was reformed. Indicators show that economic efficiency is also improving in small towns, where the systems are owned by local governments. However, it is difficult to find data on the issue in rural areas.

Non-revenue water

According to the NWSC, the average share of non-revenue water (NRW) in all operating areas of NWSC was 33% in 2010/11. While in Kampala it was 39%, in the other 21 towns it averaged 17%. These values are about the same as in 2006/07.[75] NWSC explains the high share of NRW in Kampala with the poor condition of the existing infrastructure. To improve the network and thus reduce NRW in Kampala, the Kampala Network Rehabilitation Project had been launched in 2002. In 2002-2003, NRW had been 45% in Kampala and 27% in the remaining areas.[76] Concerning small towns, the MWE in its 2006 sector performance report indicates that NRW decreased slightly from 24% in June 2004 to 22% in June 2006.[6]

There is no agreement on appropriate levels of NRW among professionals. However, Tynan and Kingdom propose a best practice target of 23% in developing countries.[77] Except for Kampala, NRW in large and small Ugandan towns, according to the available figures, complies with this target.

Labor productivity

In 2011, NWSC had 6 employees per 1,000 connections.[75] Back in 1998, there were 36 employees per 1,000 connections.[78] It was significantly reduced to 11 employees in 2003 and 7 in 2007.[79] The MWE indicates an improvement of labor productivity in small towns from 47 employees per 1,000 connections in June 2004 to 28 in June 2006.[6] Tynan and Kingdom propose a best practice target of 5 employees per 1,000 connections in developing countries.[77]

Financial aspects

Tariffs and cost recovery

Although Uganda's official policy is to promote tariffs that cover all costs, the NWSC tariff actually only covers operation and maintenance costs. The second performance contract between the Government of Uganda and NWSC provides for a tariff policy which in the long term covers operation, maintenance, and a part of the future investments.[80] Although the current tariff structure does recover operation and maintenance costs, the tariffs are not high enough to finance system expansion, leaving system improvement and extension investments to the national government and international donors. According to UN-Water, full cost recovery tariffs including investments would require a significant rise of tariffs.[81] Dr. Muhairwe in a presentation held in 2006 concludes that full cost recovery in least developed countries is a myth.[82] According to him, tariffs would have to increase by 90% to provide full cost recovery.[83]

In fiscal year 2006-2007, the NWSC tariff for domestic use was US$0.64 per m³. Taken from a public standpipe, the tariff was US$0.42 per m³ or less than US$0.01 per jerrycan. The average commercial tariff was US$1.00 per m³.[5][84] For commercial users, a rising block tariff structure is used. If a customer is connected to the sewerage system, an additional charge of 75-100% must be paid. Although water is cheapest at standpipes, UN-Water reports that in this case users usually have to pay the costs of operating a stand tap and thus in the end pay more.[85] A cross subsidy arrangement enables NWSC to keep in operation systems which do not even cover operation and maintenance costs.[7]

Investment and financing

Investment needs to reach 95% access to water supply in 2015 are estimated at US$100 million per year, only slightly more than the estimated actual investment of $85 million in 2006. About 75% of investments were financed through external assistance in 2000.

Current investments. According to the MWE, the total budget for Ugandan water supply and sanitation was 149 billion Uganda Shilling or US$90 million in fiscal year 2006-2007, of which US$73 million were actually spent. This corresponds to US$2.37 per inhabitant.[8] The NWSC received a budget of US$56 million. Out of the remaining funding of US$34 million, 54% was allocated to rural water and 29% to urban water.[84]

In addition, NGOs and

YouTube:Sanitation for all - Uganda. The video describes the sanitary conditions in informal settlements in Kampala and efforts to improve them.


  • National Water & Sewerage Corporation (NWSC)
  • Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)


External links

Adela Barungi (writer), Josephine Kasaija and Paito Obote (editors), Amsalu Negussie (supervisor): New Rules, New Roles: Does PSP Benefit the Poor? Contracts and Commerce in Water Services: The Impact of Private Sector Participation on the Rural Poor in Uganda, WaterAid and Tearfund, 2003

Further reading

  1. ^ a b c d e
  2. ^ a b c d e
  3. ^ a b , p. 58
  4. ^ a b , p. 19; 23; 31
  5. ^ a b , p. 28
  6. ^ a b c , p. 23
  7. ^ a b c d e f
  8. ^ a b Uganda's population in 2007 was about 30.9 million; source:
  9. ^ a b 1 Uganda Shilling = US$0.0005764 (2006-12-31); source:
  10. ^ , p. 8
  11. ^ a b , p. 3-4
  12. ^ , p. 15
  13. ^ a b , p. 182-188
  14. ^ a b , p. 5
  15. ^ a b Rural areas: US$956 million; Urban areas: large towns (US$281 million) and small towns (US$136 million). , p. 182-183
  16. ^
  17. ^ , p. 64
  18. ^ , p. 1
  19. ^ At the time the government defined access to improved water supply and sanitation as follows: improved water supply in urban areas is given through an improved water source within a walking distance of 1.5 km in rural areas and 0.2 km in urban areas. Sanitation coverage is given through sanitation facilities in the place of residence. , p. 12
  20. ^ a b , p. 15
  21. ^
  22. ^ , p. 8; 29
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^
  25. ^ , p. 106
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ , p. 85
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b , p. 38-57
  32. ^ a b New Scientist: Uganda pulls plug on Lake Victoria, 9 February 2006. Kull's findings have also been published by the California-based environmental lobby group International Rivers Network.
  33. ^
  34. ^ , p. 168, 171.
  35. ^
  36. ^ , p. 78
  37. ^ a b c d , p. 3
  38. ^
  39. ^ , p. 3
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ , p. 5
  43. ^ , p. 4
  44. ^ , p. 4; 10; 23
  45. ^ Figures from 2004 onwards are from the NWSC Annual Report 2006-2007, 2010-11 and 2011-12. Figures for 1998 and 2000 are from USAID/ARD as well as from Jammal and Jones, p. 17 (the latter for the number of employees).
  46. ^
  47. ^ The earnings after depreciation and interest show a different picture. They actually declined from 1998 to 2002 after a suspension to service debt was lifted in 1999 and remained negative for many years. In 2004 NWSC posted positive earnings after depreciation and interest for the first time since it began servicing its debt.
  48. ^ In areas outside Kampala NRW was only 18.5% in 2008.
  49. ^ A small portion of this increase can be accounted for by the fact that NWSC took over service in a number of additional towns in this period. 80% of NWSC water sales are in Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja.
  50. ^ , p. 16 and , p. 14-15 and p. 14 fo 1995 NRW value.
  51. ^ NWSC Annual Report 2006-2007, p. 27
  52. ^ , p. 93
  53. ^
  54. ^ NWSC Annual Report 2006-2007
  55. ^ Ken Blanchard&Sheldon Bowles:Raving Fans. A revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, 1993, ISBN 0-688-12316-3
  56. ^ a b , p. 2; 23
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^ In some sources, mostly dated before 2006, the ministry is called the Ministry of Water, Lands and Environment (MWLE). It appears to have changed its name around that time.
  61. ^ , p. 3
  62. ^ , p. 22
  63. ^ , p. 133
  64. ^ , Tab -> "Water Quality"
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^ , p. 92
  68. ^ Global Water Intelligence:Taking Ugandan water PPPs to the next level, November 2010, p. 17
  69. ^ a b Chris Azuba, Josses Mugabi, and Yogita Mumssen:Output-Based Aid for Water Supply in Uganda: Increasing Access in Small Towns, OBA Approaches Note No. 35, 2010, July 2010, retrieved on March 11, 2012
  70. ^ and COWI:Output-based aid for water supply in Uganda and World Bank Project Information Document OBA
  71. ^ IFC PPP success stories: Uganda: Small Scale Infrastructure Provider (SSIP) Program - Water, November 2010
  72. ^ John Butler, Senior Associate, ARD Incorporated:Reforming Urban Water Services in Uganda: Using Incentive Based Management Contracts to Improve Services in Small Towns, December 17, 2009, retrieved on March 11, 2012
  73. ^ , p. 7
  74. ^ , p. 3-4
  75. ^ a b
  76. ^ , p. 3; 24-25
  77. ^ a b The study uses data from 246 water utilities, half of which are in 44 developing countries. The utilities range from small ones serving fewer than 125,000 people to large ones serving more than 500,000. All regions and within countries all income levels are included. In each of the five categories (NRW, labor productivity, service coverage, water prices, and connection costs and continuity of service), at least 30 utilities from developing countries and 30 from developed countries are included. The best practice targets for developing countries are based on the performance of the top 25 of developing country utilities. The study uses data from the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Utilities database and the Asian Development Bank.
  78. ^ , p. 6
  79. ^ , p. 33
  80. ^ , p. 21
  81. ^ , p. 82-83
  82. ^
  83. ^ a b
  84. ^ a b c 1 Uganda Shilling = US$0.0006061 (2007-06-30); source:
  85. ^ , p. 83
  86. ^ a b , p. 26-28
  87. ^ , p. 1
  88. ^ Dr. William T. Muhairwe, Managing Director, NWSC-Uganda:Accessing Market Finance: The NWSC Experience, Presentation at the 2nd Public-Private Africa Conference, Tunis, December 2010, Slide 10, retrieved on April 6, 2012
  89. ^ , p. 29
  90. ^
  91. ^
  92. ^ , p. 25-27
  93. ^ , p. 17
  94. ^
  95. ^
  96. ^ DFID:Clean water makes for good living in Uganda, 15 October 2009
  97. ^
  98. ^


Water Supply Project. From 1990 to 1998, the Water Supply Project was carried out under the framework of an urban water program. Its objectives were to improve public health, enable increased production of goods and services, prevent environmental pollution, and ease women's burden through the expansion and improvement of water supply and sanitation facilities. In Kampala, Jinja, Masaka, Mbara and Mbare, the project supported physical and institutional components in order to expand the system and strengthen the NWSC. In addition, water meters were installed to prevent water waste. The World Bank contributed US$60 million to the project.[98]

The World Bank has been active for decades in Uganda. For instance, the Bank approved its seventh Poverty Reduction Support Credit (PRSC) in 2008, under which it will provide US$200 million from May 2008 to September 2009, supporting Uganda's third Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP).[97]

World Bank

The European Union contributed €14.75 million to the Mid-Western Towns Water and Sanitation Project. Under the project, which was implemented between 2001 and 2007, water supply and sanitation facilities in the towns of Masindi, Hoima, and Mubende districts were rehabilitated and extended.[96]

European Union

In 2005, the African Development Fund decided to contribute US$61 million to the rural water supply and sanitation program. Another US$118 million are provided by the Government of Uganda, and US$39 million are financed by NGOs, several other development partners, and directly by the communities. The program, which lasts for 4 years, aims to rehabilitate existing water supply schemes and provide new ones in rural areas. Furthermore, it seeks to provide new sanitation facilities in public places, schools, and health centers. These physical efforts are accompanied by environmental assessments, mitigation, and monitoring, as well as community development and capacity building. Finally, the program provides for institutional support for the central ministries in order to enable them to efficiently carry out their tasks.[95]

African Development Fund

The Joint Water and Sanitation Sector Programme Support, which follows a Sector-Wide Approach, is aligned with Uganda's 2004 Poverty Eradication Action Plan. Altogether, US$150 million are to be spent under the program, which started in 2008 and is expected to run for five years. The major development partner involved in the program is the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), which alone provides US$66 million. The other partners are the African Development Bank (US$27 million), the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) (US$19 million), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) (US$14 million), the Department for International Development, United Kingdom (DFID) (US$10 million), the European Union (US$9 million) and the German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit and KfW (US$6 million). The program aims to support the achievement of the sector targets. It intends to serve about 1,410,000 people in rural areas, 373,000 people in rural growth centers (RGCs) (communities with a population between 2,000 and 5,000 people[93]), and 155,000 in small towns directly with water and to give them access to basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Besides the extension of water supply and sanitation in rural areas, RGCs, and small towns, the program includes components (i) water resources management, (ii) sector program support for capacity building, and (iii) sector reforms and water for production.[94]

Joint Water and Sanitation Sector Programme Support

Uganda receives external support from several donor agencies. In 2002, a Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp) was adopted for the water and sanitation sector.[14] Under the SWAp most development partners have agreed to channel their financing through the national budget. According to a 2006 report by UN-Water, the SWAp has led to the increased confidence of development partners and has proved to be the most appropriate mechanism for resources mobilization and program implementation.[92]

External cooperation

Overall, funding by the national government was expected to increase from 25% in 2000 to 75%.[86]

97% of investments in sanitation were funded by external aid. For the period 2010-2015 the government budgeted USD 0.4 million for sanitation, corresponding to 0.01% of GDP.[90] This compares to a commitment by African Water Ministers made at the Africasan conference in 2008 in the eThekwini declaration in which they aspired that budget allocations for sanitation and hygiene "should be a minimum of 0.5% of GDP".[91]

Concerning rural areas, investments are financed primarily by grants. According to the 2000-2015 Rural Water and Sanitation Strategy and Investment Plan, Uganda's principal investment document for rural water supply and sanitation, financing for the rural sector will continue to be provided by external donors, the national government, and NGOs.[89]

Financing conditions differ between urban and rural areas. In the case of the NWSC, concessional debt contracted from international financial institutions had been passed on by the government to the utility in the form of debt. However, in February 2008 the government agreed to convert the NWSC's 153.5 billion Shilling debt into equity. This was done with the objective to increase the NWSC's ability to borrow from the local capital market. A week later the NWSC announced that it intended to borrow 30 billion Uganda Shilling on the bond market to finance, on a fast-track basis, the construction of water intakes and offshore pipelines for the towns of Kampala, Jinja, and Entebbe in order to mitigate the impact of Lake Victoria's receding levels on water supply. The NWSC expected to be able to borrow in local currency at lower interest rates and for longer maturities compared to borrowing from commercial banks. The World Bank assisted in structuring the bond issue.[83] However, the Ugandan Ministry of Finance stopped the bond issue from going ahead, citing the need to first use conventional concessional financing sources.[88]

Financing. According to UN-Water, around the year 2000 donor financing accounted for up to 75% of the total sector funding. The sector benefited significantly from the Poverty Action Fund (PAF) under the framework of the PEAP.[86] Uganda became the first country wthat qualified for debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. Debt relief contributes about US$80 million per year to the PAF.[87]

Investment needs. Since water supply and sanitation are recognized as key elements of the PEAP, the plan provides for long-term investments in the sector with priority to rural areas. The document indicates that in order to reach 95% coverage by 2015, from 2001 to 2015 investments of about US$956 million and US$417 million are needed for rural and urban areas, respectively, corresponding to a total of about US$100 million per year or only US$15 million more than current investment levels.[15]

Total sector investments in 2006 thus can be estimated at roughly US$85 million. [84][7] and NGO and CBO members of the UNICEF-supported Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) cluster, which provide emergency water supply and sanitation in Northern Uganda, reported investments of US$15 million from January 2005 to August 2006.[9]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.