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

School sanitation facilities in Madagascar

A template for action: how new guidelines pave the path to better sanitation in Africa

Joint article by AMCOW, Speak Up Africa, UNICEF and WSUP. This week’s World Water Forum, taking place in Dakar, Senegal, is a timely reminder of how the world is slipping behind its commitment to achieve universal access to safe sanitation by 2030. Access to basic sanitation and hygiene services is a primary concern globally, with […]


It can be done report cover

A joint publication by AMCOW, Speak Up Media, UNICEF and WSUP

On the 10th of June, 2021, the African Council of Ministers on Water (AMCOW) launched the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines (ASPG), a new initiative to help improve national and subnational sanitation and hygiene policy across the continent.

The policy guidelines aim to ease the process of resolving country-level enabling environment bottlenecks that stand in the way of African governments in meeting their national, regional, and global sanitation and hygiene obligations. They provide direction in functional policy drafting, broad stakeholder engagement, monitoring, and generic technical content specific to sanitation and hygiene service provision.

Download resource

This report explains the background to the creation of the ASPG and presents the importance of these policy guidelines. It then outlines examples from across Africa showing how the six parts to the guidelines can be applied:

Sanitation Systems and Services (South Africa)

Hygiene and Behaviour Change (Rwanda)

Institutional Arrangements (Senegal)

Regulation (Zambia)

Capacity Development (South Africa)

Funding and Financing (Chad)

High-level advocacy is key to the success of the ASPG rollout. Engaging senior policymakers in this process is the winning formula of success. Time and resources will be invested in continuous advocacy meetings and a wide stakeholder engagement to ensure no one is left behind during the policy process.The ASPG provides a wide range of resources that requires investing in the various stakeholders’ capacity building. This process presents an excellent opportunity for documenting both the learning and sharing, as part of knowledge management for policy processes.

Previous experiences across the continent clarify that Africa can achieve the indicators of progress outlined in the guidelines because they have been done before, even if only in a few countries. This time around the focus is on increasing the scale of success to the entire continent.

Africa has rightfully and decisively opted to pursue something that its leaders and populations can deliver. With political will and determination to design the right policies towards a common goal, the African Sanitation Policy Guidelines should generate a high level of confidence and certainty amongst the continent’s authorities, summarised by these encouraging words: it can be done.

 

Upgrading the importance of low-income customers in Ghana’s water sector

The more visible low-income customers are within a utility, the better the quality of the service they will receive. And so, the decision by Ghana’s national water provider, Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), to upgrade the Low-Income Customer Support Unit (LICSU) into a full department is excellent news for many under-served Ghanaians. WSUP has been […]


WSUP publishes 2020-2021 Annual Report

WSUP has launched its 2020-2021 Annual Report, presenting our operations and impact in the year up to March 2021. Through work in our core countries Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zambia, plus our emerging presence in Uganda and consultancy work in Malawi and Cambodia, we were proud to improve the lives of 6.7 million […]


Students sweeping a school sanitation facility, Madagascar

Making progress on sanitation policy: AfricaSan6

How can policy initiatives best accelerate the expansion of sanitation services and help people improve their hygiene practices across Africa? That was one of the questions WSUP and the Eastern and Southern Africa Water and Sanitation (ESAWAS) Regulators Association aimed to address during AfricaSan, the 6th African Conference on Sanitation & Hygiene. WSUP and ESAWAS […]


Integrate with wider city resilience: collaboration with other areas is crucial

This is the fourth blog in a series exploring four recommendations from WSUP’s new report, The missing link in climate adaptation, released ahead of COP26. Read the full report here: www.wsup.com/the-missing-link  Recommendation four: Integrate with wider city resilience For water and sanitation, climate change is not only about reducing the emissions of carbon into the Earth’s atmosphere. […]


Strengthen systems: foundations for climate resilience in the long term

This is the third blog in a series exploring four recommendations from WSUP’s new report, The missing link in climate adaptation, released ahead of COP26. Read the full report here: www.wsup.com/the-missing-link Recommendation three: Strengthen systems When we think of climate-resilient water and sanitation, many of us will picture infrastructure. We might think of piped water and […]


Accountability mechanisms are required to make sure that mandated responsibilities are fulfilled.

This publication forms part of a series looking at Citywide Inclusive Sanitation in terms of three closely related requirements for achieving safe, inclusive and sustainable urban sanitation: clear responsibility, strong accountability, and fit-for-purpose resource planning and management.

This paper is one of three complementary publications that explain these functions (responsibility, accountability, resource planning and management) in more detail, on the basis of specific case studies.

Click for a shorter version of this paper, where we explore the accountability mechanisms that can be applied to the different service provision mandate structures identified in our parallel paper on responsibilities.