Cover Image
close this bookUganda's Water Sector Development: Towards Sustainable Systems (SKAT, 1996)
close this folder4. Establishing Sectoral Policies
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentEarly investigations
View the documentProcess of development
View the documentEmerging national policy framework
View the documentNew framework documents

New framework documents

Within the context of these clear, over-riding national requirements, the Ministry of Natural Resources has developed a series of water sector framework documents consisting of three main codes:
- The Water Statute, 1995;
- National Water Policy (still under review, not yet finalised/approved);
- Uganda Water Action Plan.
These documents form a solid basis for appropriate water resource management as well as sound water uses in Uganda.

The Water Statute, 1995

The existing laws governing the water sector in Uganda were scattered through a variety of legislation and administered by a number of ministries and departments. In the past this has resulted in overlaps and conflicts. In the period 1992 to 1994, a Consultant was engaged to draw up revised legislation to adequately cover present and envisaged future requirements.
The Water Statute, 1995, provides the legal framework for overall control and administration of water resources in Uganda. It also specifies essential water control functions such as water extraction and wastewater discharge permits. The Statute was enacted by Parliament in November 1995.
The objectives of the Statute are:

(a) to provide for the use, protection and management of water resources and supply;
(b) to provide for the constitution of water supply and sewerage undertakings; and
(c) to facilitate the devolution of water supply and sewerage undertakings."
The Water Statute, 1995

The Statute seeks to promote the rational management and use of the waters of Uganda. It endeavours to encourage the provision of a clean, safe and sufficient supply of water for domestic purposes to all persons. Further aims include the orderly development and use of water for non-domestic use and controls on water pollution.
Because the Statute, to a large extent, is an empowering act, subsidiary regulations, in the final stages of being drafted, are required to put the Statute into practical operation.

National Water Policy (draft under discussion)

Foreign financing characterises water supply development in Uganda. Bilateral and multilateral donors, the World Bank, NGOs and private sector organisations promote a widely varying range of views. They often differ on philosophies and approaches to implementation of schemes, as well as to operation and maintenance.

The DWD has identified a clear need to improve the efficiency of the sector and to derive maximum benefit from the available resources. Therefore, it is in the process of finalising a sector policy document that will help bring about such an improvement in efficiency and facilitate co-operation and collaboration among the many sector participants. The final document will consist of appropriate sub-sector guidelines and standards.

The Constitution states that all Ugandans are entitled to clean and safe water. The Government, therefore, has a duty to allocate sufficient priority to this basic human right. Within the context of prioritisation, the draft National Water Policy proposes that:

"The first priority in water resources allocation will be the provision of water in adequate quantity and quality to meet domestic demands.

Allocation of water to meet irrigation, livestock, industrial and other demands will be done considering the economic, social and environmental value of water."

Uganda Water Action Plan

An integrated team of Ugandan and Danish water resources experts (the WAP team) prepared the Water Action Plan over the period 1993 to 1994. Published in 1995, the Water Action Plan consists of fourteen documents—four 'project' documents and ten 'results' documents (see panel for details). It is an important milestone in the process of improving the framework for water resources development and management in Uganda.11 The Water Action Plan provides guidelines and strategies for the protection and development of Uganda's water resources and a structure for their management. The Water Action Plan re-formulated the overall policy objective for the water resources sector to read:

"to manage and develop the water resources of Uganda in an integrated and sustainable manner, so as to secure and provide water of adequate quantity and quality for all social and economic needs"

The Water Action Plan defines actions leading to the establishment of an enabling environment for flexible water resource management. It defines management roles and identifies appropriate institutional structures.

The outputs of the WAP formulation process consisted of:
- identification of the key water resources management functions and the appropriate levels at which they should be performed;
- an institutional framework for water resources management at the national, district and community levels;
- long and short term strategies for establishing water resources management in Uganda;
- training and capacity building needs to implement the short term strategy.

Related activities included:
- formulation of a national water resources policy;
- assessment of the existing situation of water resources in Uganda, both surface water and groundwater;
- creation of a groundwater database;
- drafting of detailed management procedures for a water extraction permit system, to be used as an input to the drafting of subsidiary Regulations to the Water Statute, and as a future management tool;
- drafting of detailed management procedures for a wastewater discharge permit system, for the same purpose as above;
- listing of the existing water resources plans and projects and proposing guidelines of how they can be prioritised;
- detailing of the actions needed in the short term to initiate the implementation and monitoring of the Water Action Plan.


Water action plan documents

Water Action Plan
WAP Phase I
- a rapid assessment of the water resources situation in the physical and management context;
- a preliminary proposal for the establishment of an enabling environment for flexible water resources management with linkages between land and water resources, and including suggestions for management roles and functions at various levels, and suitable institutional structures;
- a preliminary outline of a national water resources policy;
- preparation of detailed project proposals for specific projects in the water resources sector.
WAP Phase II
- a draft water resources policy accompanied by target descriptions and brief guidelines;
- an outline proposal for appropriate local water resources management levels based on district studies;
- an outline proposal for management procedures providing the administrative machinery at national and district levels with guidelines for sustainable water resources management;
- a design of a groundwater database and a plan/guidelines for interaction between the various existing and future computerised systems relevant to water resources management;
- support to the preparation of regulations supporting the Water Resource Statute regarding surface water and groundwater abstraction as well as wastewater discharge;
- an outline of training and capacity building activities supporting the appropriate sectors in water resources management;
- a project catalogue with proposed priorities for projects identified during the Water Action Plan Phases I & II;
- a draft Water Action Plan synthesising the activities carried out in a coherent presentation;
- implementation and monitoring guidelines for the subsequent Water Action Plan implementation;
- a national Seminar for discussion of the draft Water Action Plan by concerned parties.
Source: Uganda Water Action Plan

Agenda 21 - Addressing the Question of Sustainability

The Uganda Water Action Plan is one of the first official responses to the guiding principles on water laid down at the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992 — the so-called Agenda 21.

Principle 1: Fresh water is a finite and vulnerable resource, essential to sustain life, development and the environment.
What is needed is a holistic approach to water resources management—one which links economic and social development to the protection of natural ecosystems.

Principle 2: Land and water resources should be managed at the lowest appropriate level.
Decisions and actions concerning water resources management should be taken by those who are affected by them. Depending on the nature of the issues, the forum might be a household, a meeting of two community groups, or an international river basin committee.

Principle 3: The Government has an essential role as an enabler in a participatory, demand-driven approach to development.
Legislation, structures and procedures should make up a framework within which there can be participation, by all interested parties, in the analysis of problems and the taking of actions.

Principle 4: Water should be considered as a social and economic good, with a value reflecting its most valuable potential use.
To encourage conservation and protection, the true economic value of water resources should always be taken into account when prioritising potential uses - without infringing the basic right of all people to have access to clean water at affordable prices.

Principle 5: Water and land use management should be integrated.
The planning of both land and water development projects should take into account the interrelationships - and the fundamental way in which ecosystems regulate both water quantity and quality.

Principle 6: Women play a central part in the provision, management and safeguarding of water.
Though women are so obviously active in providing and using water, they are far less involved in its management. Special efforts should be made to facilitate women's effective participation in decision-making forums concerned with water resources.

Principle 7: The private sector has an important role in water management.
Also, special efforts should be made to sensitise private sector resource managers to the benefits of sound water - because, collectively, these managers have a significant impact on water resources.
Source: Uganda Water Action Plan