Water in Uganda: the challenge of offering services to small towns

By Bridget Teirney Life in small towns is rapidly changing for communities across Africa. In the next twenty years the urban population is expected to double, and urban land cover to triple. But urbanisation isn’t just impacting the continents’ large and mega cities. Small towns are also undergoing significant transformation. Straddling both urban and rural […]


The WSUP Advisory report The challenge of small towns: Professionalising piped water services in Western Uganda tells the story of the recent progress made by the Mid Western Umbrella (MWU), one of the recently established Uganda’s structures of water utilities management. The improvements made in water provision in the country come as a much needed response to the challenges presented by the rapid growth of small towns.

Straddling both urban and rural life, small towns are at the forefront of a major change in population distribution, marked by increasing growth in urban populations, and systems and structures need to be adapted to keep up. Provision of water supply is one example of an essential service that needs to adapt to this evolution.

There are five key recommendations the WSUP Advisory report makes to help other utilities serving small towns:

  1. Adopt a decentralised management structure to remain lean, cost-effective and responsive
  2. Develop talent and empower middle management
  3. Start with short-term performance improvement and track simple metrics
  4. Meet operational costs to create breathing room
  5. Align support programmes with operational priorities

The publication provides further insight into each of these recommendations and provides specific experience and insights for all those concerned with sustainably managing water supply in small towns across Africa.

Download WSUP Advisory Uganda report

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