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Before yesterdayIRC Water

Four Towns Launch New Town Sanitation Plans in Kabarole District, Uganda

29 March 2022 at 15:19

The four Town Sanitation Plans are a product of a comprehensive, participatory process initiated last year 2021 by the lower local government leadership and facilitated by IRC Uganda.

Mugusu, Kijura, Kiko and Kasenda Town Councils in Kabarole District are set to launch their new Town Sanitation Plans (TSPs) and officially kick-start implementation on 30 March 2022. The event is hosted at the Kabarole District Local Government Headquarters with Chairperson Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga as guest of honour. The town sanitation plans are a product of a comprehensive and participatory process led by the Town Council Leadership and facilitated by IRC Uganda as a way to support the district's targets of universal access to water sanitation and hygiene by 2030 as laid out in the Kabarole District WASH Masterplan.

"We are following our laid out strategies in the WASH Masterplan and we are steadily progressing towards the goal of leaving no one behind by 2030. With safe water and sanitation accessible to everyone even in the small towns and sub-counties, we reduce the disease burden substantially and can be assured of a healthy productive lifestyle for our people.  I congratulate these town councils for getting on board," Hon. Richard Rwabuhinga, Chairman Kabarole District.

 Mugusu participatory process of developing TSP

The launch will bring together key stakeholders from the Ministry of Health, regional units of the Ministry of Water and Environment, Kabarole District Local Government, technocrats and politicians from the four Town Councils, the Mid-Western Umbrella of Water and Sanitation and the National Water and Sewerage Corporation. Civil society representatives from Water For People, UWASNET, JESE, TURIKUMWE and Finish Mondial/HEWASA, the media and cultural and religious leadership are also expected to attend.

Town Sanitation Plans

The Town Sanitation Plans aim at coordinating and integrating various sanitation-related measures at the town council level including physical planning, sanitation marketing and behaviour change communication, local private sector involvement, law enforcement, and full stakeholder participation, among others. The plans contain Town Council priority issues; objectives and targets for improving sanitation; planned activities; and a financial estimation management plan for the activities. They include estimates on the required investments to be made either by the Town Council, Kabarole District Local Government, and/or donor agencies for improvements along the sanitation value chain.

The actions and interventions presented in the plans are focused on improving sanitation in households, public schools, public places (e.g., markets, bus/taxi stops), and healthcare facilities. In addition, the plans propose interventions to improve the collection and treatment of faecal sludge in the towns. The planning horizon is the year 2040 in line with the national Uganda Vision2040.

New and Complementing Projects

As part of the launch event of the Town Sanitation Plans, IRC Uganda will introduce two new projects namely the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s Safe Water Strategy Phase Two and the Sanitation and Hygiene Improvement project funded by the James Percy Foundation, through which a number of implementation activities laid out in the TSPs will be supported.

IRC Uganda and Kabarole District

IRC has collaborated with Kabarole District Local Government as a core district partner since 2006, and has supported efforts to research, develop and publish a district WASH master plan for Kabarole District. This master plan outlines a vision for 100% coverage of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services by 2030.

Funding Support

The development and publication of the Town Sanitation Plans for Kijura, Mugusu, Kasenda and Kiko was commissioned by IRC Uganda with funding support of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and the Waterloo Foundation.

Where is the money? Financing Uganda’s WASH, environment and climate change

1 March 2022 at 18:57

Tackling Uganda's WASH, environment and climate change financing gap in Uganda.


Financing dialogue long shot

Uganda’s socio-economic progress sits squarely on its natural environment resources as the core support for its industries, and water, sanitation and hygiene services for the livelihoods and quality of life of its people. Development experts recommend that deliberate and collaborative approaches to financing water, sanitation and hygiene services, environmental resources management, and climate change adaptability be adopted urgently if Uganda is to attain the desired socio-economic targets of its Vision 2040.  

But only 32% of the population in Uganda has access to a basic water supply and 19% to basic sanitation, with about 7 million people still defecating in the open. Moreover, despite that 80% of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihood, the effects of climate change are now evident with shorter or longer unpredictable seasons of rainfall, spells of droughts, and heavy floods.

"There is no policy framework for financing Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Environment and Climate Change Programmes in Uganda yet they contribute substantially to the national socio-economic development, they are often taken for granted, " Alfred Okidi, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water and Environment.

Thinking together

As such, a cross-sectoral national dialogue was on 17 December 2021 convened by the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) through the Water Resources Institute (WRI) in collaboration with the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), IRC, WaterAid and Water For People (WFP), to align and shape the conversation on financing the water and environment sector in Uganda.

“At IRC, we believe that services should be available, reliable, affordable to all people all the time – that’s a prerequisite to achieving Vision 2040 as a country. Finance is a key building block to get us there. Thank you, Ministry of Water and Environment for the opportunity to dialogue and collectively act to change the situation,” Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, IRC Uganda Country Director.

Themed Re-thinking Uganda’s WASH, Environment and Climate Change Financing Priorities beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic, the hybrid dialogue held in Kampala brought together over 180 professionals from government agencies, parliament, development partners, civil society, private sector, academia, and representatives of cultural institutions. 

Partners emphasised that optimum benefit of water and environment resources can only be realised if every Ugandan is reached with quality service delivery.

“Our target is no less than everyone forever – every household, school, health facility, and community must have sustainable water and sanitation services to be able to contribute to the progress of our country,” Brenda Achiro Muthemba, Country Director Water For People.

Discussions were centred on analysing the challenges faced by the sector in delivering sustainable water, environment and climate change services for the Ugandan population and the opportunities for holistic financing. Presenters emphasised the interlinked roles and systems across distinct state and non-state agencies in WASH and environment resources service delivery, catalysing the apparent need for collaborative efforts to identify practical policy and interventions to address financing gaps and address climate change challenges.

Making the case for investment in WASH, environment and climate change

According to senior economist Dr. Fred Muhumuza, the existing challenges are as vast as the opportunities that the sector can explore to triple investment in order to make the required contribution towards Uganda’s Vision 2040 and the global SDGs by 2030. In his key-note address, Muhumuza stressed the apparent need for the sector to demonstrate to financing institutions the efficacy of investing in quality services, good governance, development, and sustainable management of these resources to the social economic and political agenda of Uganda and its citizens.

“The challenge is partly in allocation. 99% of public financing for the sector through the national utilities and the Ministry of Water is centralised with only a minimal amount trickling down to the local governments where people directly expect services,” Fred Muhumuza, senior economist and keynote speaker at the national dialogue.

Uganda’s national budget landscape is complex and grossly constrained. Total expenditure for the financial year 2021/22 was planned at Shs.44,778.8 billion (US$ 12.5 billion) excluding domestic debt refinancing. But allocation for water, sanitation, hygiene, and environment is not only low but is also diminishing. The sector’s on-budget share of the national budget decreased from 4.03% (UGX 1,263bn (US$ 353M)) budget funding in the FY 2019/20 against the national budget of UGX 25,093bn (US$ 7bn) in the FY 2018/19 to 2.73% ( UGX 1,105.72bn (US$ 309M)) on budget funding in the FY 2019/20 against the national budget of UGX 40,489bn (US$ 11.3bn), according to the 2020 Sector Performance Report.

As nations the world over focus on economic recovery due to the COVID-19 impact, the sector in Uganda is grappling with increased interest rates on external resources and a political landscape that has prioritised hefty budgets for regional security at the expense of WASH and natural resources.

Global resource flows are diminishing, with adaptation financing to Africa projected to a mere US$ 66bn for 2020-2030. This is short of the US$ 331bn (or approximately US$ 33bn annually) in estimated needs per stated cost estimates in nationally determined contributions (NCDs). In East Africa, water received only 17% of the US$ 1.76bn in 2017-2018

Paradoxically, COVID-19 stimuli fell short on water, environment, and climate change, leading to a decline in private sector investment and overall impact on the economy.

Civil society advocates retaliated that while national resource envelopes may be constrained, Ugandans have the right to access services and the government the responsibility to deliver WASH and sustainable environment services. But the sector must put in more effort in positioning itself not only as viable but also as a critical sector.

“Who knew that a pandemic of the magnitude of COVID would come? But when it did, the money for response and action was found. Why not water and environment? You must be intentional in tapping into the available resources whether public or private  to invest in the sector,” Julius Mukunda, Executive Director CSBAG.

Mukunda challenged government to ensure that the water points are functional and that information on funds available for the water department at local government level is displayed for accountability purposes.

Panel discussion

Conveners L-R_CSBAG, MWE, IRC and WFP

There was consensus that COVID-19 has illuminated the importance of access to safe water and a clean environment for everyone. Investing in clean and safe water and improved sanitation facilities and hygiene practices can bring a return of 21 times their cost, according to a WaterAid report.

Uganda’s core industries namely agriculture, manufacturing, hydropower generation, marine transport, fisheries, waste discharge, tourism, and environmental conservation all depend on water.

But supply of safe water for domestic use remains low with rural areas at 71% and large towns at 79%. Similarly, water storage capacity for productive uses such as irrigation, livestock and other uses remains low. Increased investment in safe water and sanitation service delivery will reduce the disease burden, save productive time spent by women and youth on collecting water for home use and promote sector-based employment and wealth creation.

Increasingly, water, environmental and natural resources are suffering degradation due to increased demand for agricultural land, settlement, and infrastructure development. Well-managed wetlands, river-banks and forests will boost communities’ resilience to extreme weather events such as prolonged droughts and floods.

The dialogue was also an opportunity to articulate the intricacies of sustainability of services vis-à-vis the issues of affordability, operations and maintenance. While political representatives claim that communities are too poor to afford water bills, technocrats point to behavioural attitudes that push water users to undermine their duty to contribute to sustainable services through user fees. The point of agreement, however, was on the need to extend this conversation to those that are directly affected

“What is a green economy to a local person in my constituency? I challenge you experts to take this dialogue down to the people, explain climate change and sustainability in the language they understand and explain how they can benefit!" Dickson Kateshumbwa, Member of Parliament and serving on the Natural Resources Committee of Parliament.

Where is the money?

The identified opportunities for financing water, sanitation, hygiene, environment and climate change include:

  • Commitments from the IMF to finance climate risk mitigation. Adaptation finance from the Multilateral Development Banks (MDB) to Sub-Saharan Africa increased to US$ 4.7bn in 2020, compared to US$ 3.6bn in 2019.
  • Tap into new innovative financing models now available for Africa. For example, the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and the AfDB have jointly developed the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP).
  • Policy and practice: There are opportunities for promoting green economy through strengthening the interface between public and private sectors.
  • Local financing products: Small and medium enterprises can access financing from private institutions as equity, lease, corporate-social responsibility, credit, guarantees, and asset-based lending.
  • Pro-citizens governance through Water User Committees: Communities can mobilise user fees and member contributions for operations and maintenance.
  • Direct donor funding through non-profit project implementation and grants to government agencies.
  • Pension funds, social security, healthcare, and private fund managers: Long-term credit, and equity investment. Models that link financing of Water, Sanitation, Hygiene, Environment and Climate Change to reducing costs or increasing revenues will play a core role in attracting private finance.
  • Pooled financing models in partnership with the private sector and users can bring all actors together in financing, and partner with revolving finance actors.
  • Capital market financing: build capacity to develop bankable projects and capacity of entities to participate in capital markets. 

Jane N Mulumba in media interview at dialogue

Conclusion and recommendations

Water supply, sanitation and hygiene, and environment and natural resources are interlinked and require sustainable exploitation and management to ensure that there is adequate water of the right quality and quantity for both production and domestic use even during the dry seasons. Optimum yet sustainable utilisation of these resources is central to national development and therefore financing and investment should be intentional and adequate. It is paramount that existing national, regional and global legislation for the protection and sustainable use of these resources is implemented.

In the quest for financing, stakeholders are cautioned to be mindful of the safety of the ecosystem for posterity.  “It is more expensive to restore wetlands than to protect what we have. Consider, is it cheaper to import sugar than to cut down a forest to plant sugar cane?” Fred Muhumuza, keynote speaker.

The dialogue made a number of recommendations for consideration by the relevant stakeholders as follows:

a)              Ministry of Water and Environment

  • Improve the planning, enforcement, and supervision of water, sanitation, hygiene, environment and climate change to ensure that services reach the people
  • Demonstrate value for money and give priority to monitoring the effective and efficient use of resources
  • Consider development and promotion of alternative water source options that are affordable for the poor
  • Strengthen partnerships: improve governance and avail information about the sector and partner with those that can speak out to be able to get support from various actors
  • Build capacity of the ministry departments and agencies (MDAs) to take advantage of available options for financing
  • Generate and provide credible sector data and information to inform planning by relevant line Ministries of Education and Health.
  • Popularise the revised environment and climate change policies to all stakeholders. 

b)             Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development

  • Institute legal and regulatory reforms to create an enabling environment for private sector engagement including amending the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) and Local Government Act
  • Re-orient the capital market in Uganda to be viable investment vehicles for areas that provide multiple benefits like water and environment resources  
  • Government should strengthen technical capacity and increase financial resources for the department to fully coordinate all MDAs to plan, budget, and implement all WASH and climate change interventions across programmes.
  • Support the Ministry of Water and Environment to conduct a Cost Benefit Analysis of water, environment, and climate change and its impact on the overall economy of the country.

c)              Budget and Natural resources Committees of Parliament

  • Demand climate change certification before approval of ministry budgets as provided for in the Climate Change Act
  • There is a need to strengthen the capacity of government agencies and more specifically Local Governments in WASH, environment, and climate finance funding proposal development. 

Driving the change together: transforming local WASH systems

2 December 2021 at 08:44

Kabarole District and IRC Uganda wrap up a successful Sustainable WASH Systems (SWS) learning partnership, a collaborative project that has harnessed decentralised systems and structures to strengthen rural water supply and small-town sanitation services.

Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) SWS Learning Partnership, IRC facilitated the Kabarole District WASH Task Team (DWTT) to adopt the learning alliance approach and transform into a platform for reflection, experiential learning and sharing, action research, planning, and monitoring, as well as advocacy and influencing for policies that promote Kabarole’s goal of universal access by 2030.

“The learning alliance approach broadened our space and capacity to coordinate every stakeholder – whether individual or institution – to contribute to the vision: it is like building the kingdom of God with each one of us bringing a different but critical brick to the construction site,” Richard Rwabuhinga, LC5 Chairman Kabarole DLG and member of the DWTT.

The DWTT membership comprises of political leaders and technical officers of the local government as well as private sector, civil society, religious institutions, and the media. Over the past five years, the DWTT has thrived as the bridge that connects service users to the providers, grassroot associations to sub-national agencies, and private entrepreneurs to policy makers, towards achieving Kabarole’s shared WASH agenda. 

 Milestones along the journey

The first major undertaking of the DWTT was to steer the development of the Kabarole District WASH master plan 2017 - 2030:  a blueprint of what needs to be done by when, how much it will cost to deliver safe and full water, sanitation, and hygiene services to all the people of Kabarole.

“We are keeping track of the targets and influencing for budget allocation to least served populations. As the Chairman of the WASH task team as well as Secretary for Works and Technical Services, I provide background information during the committee of council seating to ensure that we incorporate the proposals and targets of the WASH master plan,” Aaron Byakutaaga, Chairman DWTT.

There is now more deliberate connection between the demand and supply loops of WASH services in the district. On the demand side, communities through their water user committees have acquired skills to collect and save money for operations and maintenance. On the supply side, hand pump mechanics have benefited from the learning opportunities and capacity strengthening organised by the DWTT.

“They [DWTT] do not just tell us what to do, but they show us what is working elsewhere, and support us to replicate. They took us on a peer learning visit to Kamuli district. Today, KAHASA is the go-to service provider in the community for operations and maintenance for pay-as-you-fetch water points,” Stephen Balyebuga, Publicity Secretary, Kabarole Handpump Mechanics Association (KAHASA).

Looking ahead

The project time may be over but learning and transformation continues. The DWTT envisages itself as a forum that will continue to coordinate stakeholders, influence policy and mobilise resources to drive safe water supply and sustainable sanitation in Kabarole.

“At IRC, we know from experience and evidence that no single person or entity can create lasting solutions for the immense WASH challenges. We applaud the Kabarole DWTT for driving a shared vision and providing a befitting platform for advocacy and influencing not only for universal access, but for safe, sustainable water and sanitation services that last. It is a living example that learning alliances work and should be replicated in all the districts of Uganda, ” Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC Uganda.

Scaling-up Sanitation and Hygiene in Kabarole

17 August 2021 at 09:30

In February and March 2021, home improvement campaigns were conducted in 49 villages of Mugusu and Kasenda sub-counties, and a monitoring exercise carried out in June-July to assess the levels of impact registered by the intervention.

Kabarole District Local Government and IRC have a collaborative commitment to improve WASH in two sub-counties per year, an initiative that started in 2020. Specifically focusing on SDG 6.2 target on sanitation and hygiene, intensive campaigns are carried out in two select sub-counties reaching every village and household with information on and skills to maintain good standards of sanitation and hygiene in their homes. Thus, in February and March 2021 the home improvement campaigns were conducted in 49 villages of Mugusu and Kasenda sub-counties, and a monitoring exercise carried out in June-July to assess the levels of impact registered by the intervention.

IRC launches new partnership with Kabarole District

11 November 2020 at 12:02

New project on supporting WASH in healthcare facilities in the fight against COVID-19.

Fort Portal, Kabarole, UGANDA. 11 November 2020 - IRC Uganda today launches a new project with Kabarole District Local Government to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 through strengthening water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services in healthcare facilities.

IRC has through funding of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation supported Kabarole District to achieve universal access to WASH through the Safe Water Strategy since 2018. In March 2020 when Uganda confirmed the first COVID-19 case, both the WASH and healthcare sectors experienced immense pressure as services that were essential in prevention and control of the spread of the infection were limited. IRC responded through support to Kabarole District Health Office with various interventions including emergency provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to healthcare workers; improvement of sanitation and hand hygiene facilities in health centres; provision of drinking water kits to healthcare facilities and Infection Prevention and Control mentorships, among others.

"The pandemic has made obvious what we knew all along: that water, sanitation and hygiene are the first line of defence against many infections. As we embrace the new normal, full coverage of WASH services in all institutions is a must, starting with healthcare facilities" – Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, Country Director IRC Uganda.

The one-year project implemented with USD 154,000 funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation will deliver long-term interventions in infection prevention and control including COVID-19, through strengthening the district healthcare system and modelling comprehensive WASH in healthcare services.

"This partnership between IRC and Kabarole District is in line with IRC's goal to strengthen district capacities to provide lasting WASH services for all," says Ms. Mulumba. "We are making a deliberate statement that while COVID-19 has hit us hard, future resilience and sustainability of healthcare service delivery can only be guaranteed by good governance and management of water, sanitation and hygiene services in healthcare facilities."

Kabarole District will with this funding increase awareness about COVID-19 prevention and response efforts through risk communications and hygiene promotion; strengthen protection and safety of healthcare workers through provision of PPE and mentorship in infection and prevention control; and articulate standard WASH governance and management of healthcare facilities through model healthcare centres. The funding will also support capacity strengthening of the district health teams and healthcare workers for sustained WASH engagement and behaviour change.

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