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close this bookUganda's Water Sector Development: Towards Sustainable Systems (SKAT, 1996)
close this folder5. Implementation Strategies
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCreating an enabling environment
View the documentCreating the institutional framework
View the documentEstablishing the required management procedures and tools
View the documentGeneral strategies for domestic water supply


The WAP team designed a strategy for water resources management that addresses three main considerations:
- Creation of an enabling environment that consists of policies, national legislation, regulations and local by-laws for encouraging sound management of the nation's water resources and constraining potentially harmful practices.
- Creation of an institutional framework that strikes a balance between national, regional and local levels of accountability for the management of water resources.
- Establishment of priorities and planning procedures that enable decision makers to make choices between alternative actions based on agreed policies, available resources, environmental impacts and social and economic consequences.
These fit into the Government's general strategies for the development of the water sector.

Water action programme

Creating an enabling environment

The domestic water supply sector has prominent status within the broader context of water resources. Therefore, the Ugandan Government is focusing its strategies on the sustainable development and management of this sector.

Its policy objective for the domestic water supply sector is:

"provision of water of acceptable quality, in adequate quantities and within easy reach of every household based on management responsibility and ownership by the users;
the coverage target on a national basis is 75% of the population in rural areas and close to 100% in urban areas by year 2000 with a 90% effective use and functionality of facilities."
Uganda National Plan of Action for Children (UNPAC, 1992)

The water supply sector in this context incorporates (a) domestic water supply in rural and urban areas, (b) sanitation and sewerage services, and (c) health and hygiene promotion. Further, domestic water demand includes human consumption as well as subsistence garden and livestock watering. Drainage and solid waste removal are understood to be an integral part of any sanitation and sewerage strategy.

Creating an enabling environment


The draft National Water Policy, identified above, is the primary policy guidance document for the sector. The National Water Policy takes its direction from the Constitution and the National Environmental Management Policy (1994). It includes the policy and strategies for provision of water supply and sanitation services. Through it the Government is attempting to exert influence over the participants in the water supply sector — to assist their planning and direct their energies.

The Government anticipates that the emerging policy environment will facilitate management of water resources at the most appropriate levels. It hopes to focus the combined energies of all participants towards the achievement of common objectives. The policies will provide the guidance necessary to cut wastage and improve co-operation. They will generate a constructive environment within which each participant will realise their maximum potential.


As mentioned above, the new Water Statute has been enacted recently. The Statute is the legal cornerstone for administration of the water supply and sanitation sector. The Water Statute is a comprehensive document. However, the Government must support the Statute through appropriate regulations approved by the responsible minister.

Creating an enabling environment

- Government agencies will set the water resources framework, monitor, mediate and enforce, rather than implement water resource activities.
- The Water Statute, and its associated regulations, will ensure adherence to the National Water Policy.
- Regulatory controls will be introduced only in response to clear needs.
- Costs of administering regulations will be balanced against potential benefits.
- Regulations will be kept at a level consistent with the capacity to enforce them.
- Regulatory controls will be combined with economic incentives, to influence individuals and organisations towards sound management of water resources.
- Guidelines and tools for efficient water resource management will be developed and made available to appropriate institutions and community groups.
- The Water Action Plan will be a continuous process of co-ordinating the preparation of policies, laws, regulations, guidelines and standards; advising on institutional development and training programmes; providing a framework for prioritising and co-ordinating water resource development activities.

Source: Uganda Water Action Plan


The Government has singled out two important areas for the introduction of improved regulations:
- extraction of surface and groundwater;
- wastewater discharge.
However, it is realistic about the impact it should have on the rural population. Therefore, it will exclude small-scale extraction from regulations if they do not significantly affect the possible use by others of the same resource. Likewise, the scope of wastewater legislation is unlikely to impact upon rural users. The Government is taking a pragmatic view; weighing the perceived and expressed demand from those affected against its administrative and enforcement capabilities.

Creating the institutional framework

The Water Action Plan attempts to strike a balance between national and local ownership of the responsibility for carrying out the activities detailed in the plan. The organisational framework builds on existing reconstruction of the ministries. It anticipates the roll-out of reforms within district administrations. It recognises the strong participation of village-based RC committees and user groups in securing water supplies.

Water Policy Committee

The Government is in the process of establishing a Water Policy Committee (WPC) in accordance with the provisions of the Water Statute. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources will be Chairman of the WPC and the Directorate of Water Development will provide its Secretariat. The WPC will interact with the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) with regard to environmental policies and effluent standards. The WPC will not be in a position to take decisions binding on all member organisations, except where specified in legislation. However, agreements reached at the Committee will be at such a high level that formal decisions and implementation should be assured.
The main functions of the WPC will be to:
- co-ordinate the formulation of national priorities for the use of water and related land resources;
- co-ordinate policy formulation regarding international water resources;
- co-ordinate the continued Water Action Plan process;
- review plans for major development projects that affect the protection and utilisation of water resources;
- resolve conflicts between government bodies regarding water resources that cannot be resolved at the district level.
Members of the WPC will represent government ministries and departments. They will be heads of relevant institutions and membership cannot be delegated. Other members will include representatives from district administrations, research organisations and NGOs.

Directorate of Water Development

In the future the DWD will function primarily at the national level — regulating and supervising rather than implementing. District RCs, through the District Executive Secretaries, will employ district staff concerned with water supply services. The DWD will station some staff in district centres but these people will be employed on water resource monitoring rather than construction or maintenance activities.

Creating the Institutional Framework

- A Water Policy Committee (WPC) will provide the mechanism for cross-sectoral policy decisions at the national level - as well as for policy development in relation to the shared water resources of the Nile Basin.
- WPC will work in close collaboration with other policy making bodies, such as the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
- A WPC Secretariat will be established within the Directorate of Water Development.
- An integrated approach will be promoted by concerned government agencies and NGOs for the implementation of water development projects.
- An integrated approach to extension services will be developed.
- Water resources management functions will be delegated to the lowest appropriate levels - based on existing Resistance Council structures.
- River basin authorities will be established only in response to clear needs.
- Private sector involvement will be promoted.
- The participation of women will be enhanced.
- Capacities will be developed at the national, district and community levels - to plan and initiate soil and water conservation activities, to monitor the use of water resources, and to enforce regulations.
- Public awareness will be raised about the impacts of water quality on health.
Source: Uganda Water Action Plan

District committee and departmental structure

The District Development Committee and its sub-committee, the Technical Planning Committee will assume overall planning and co-ordination of rural water supply at the district level. The District Environment and Natural Resources Committee (DENRC) will supervise technical staff in the implementation of their tasks and recommend policies, priorities, by-laws and standards to be adopted by the DRCs.
The DRC will determine membership of the DENRC. Members will include political and administrative personnel with relevant social, technical and economic skills.

Integrated extension approach

The Government has thrown its support behind an integrated approach to extension work. It requires districts to co-ordinate their extension staff in various departments so that they disseminate the same environment and water resources management information and guidelines. This is to ensure that the districts make maximum use of scarce resources and co-ordinate water and land management practices in an environmentally sound manner.

Community structures

The village and sub-county water and sanitation committees are linked to, and may be part of the Resistance Councils (RC1 to RC3). This close coupling of overall decision-making to the needs of the water sector allows the development of demand-driven community management of rural water supply.
The Government anticipates that women — who already play an important role in the maintenance of water facilities — will take higher profile roles in committees. It will encourage them to take greater overall management responsibility for water supply and sanitation.

Mediation structures

Like the community structures mentioned above, the mediation and judicial structures proposed by the Water Action Plan fit into the existing RC framework. At the lowest level, the RC1, courts, chiefs and elders will settle local water disputes. At a district level, the District Environment and Natural Resources Committee (DENRC) will act as an administrative appeal board.
The District Development Committee (DDC) can resolve inter-departmental disputes. Alternatively, persons or organisations disagreeing with a decision of the DENRC can take a civil dispute to the Magistrates Court.

Capacity building

With all the change anticipated within the sector, the Government sees a clear need for training, education and information activities at national, district and community levels. It plans work on the following:
- orientation programmes to inform politicians, officials and public representatives about the Water Action Plan, new water resources legislation and structural changes;
- reorientation programmes for staff in DWD, other key sector ministries and district administrations to deepen awareness of water resources management issues and clarify new roles and responsibilities;
- curriculum development to integrate water resource management topics within the curricula of relevant training institutions;
- extension training to support workers with a responsibility for providing information and facilitating discussion about water resource issues;
- information dissemination on water resource management issues — particularly to members of RCs and natural resource committees within local communities.

Institutional structure for water resource management

Establishing the required management procedures and tools

The Government recognises that it cannot single-handedly cope with alleviating poverty among the poorest population. Therefore, it sees its role in the future as that of a facilitator of action, rather than an implementer of project activities. In order to play an effective role in the rural water sector, it needs to play a stronger hand during the conceptual development and planning of rural water supply and sanitation projects.

The Water Action Plan identified serious shortcomings in existing management procedures and tools. The DWD needs to develop these tools and techniques, including:

- an information system for collecting, analysing and disseminating data required for management decisions;

- water resource assessments that provide the basic knowledge to evaluate impacts of alternative management decisions;

- management procedures — a set of guidelines and codes of practice — needed for consistent responses in problem solving and decision making.

Data management system

The DWD plans to develop an integrated data management system that will collect, analyse, store and disseminate information. The DWD will assist the wide variety of users in their access to, and use of, the information relevant to their specific functions. It will attempt to abstract and analyse information at a district level wherever possible, thereby improving speed and efficiency in making and implementing decisions. The data flows to other sectors related to water resources, including agriculture, land, fisheries and forestry, present a significant challenge.

Water resources assessments

Within the Water Action Plan the DWD undertook a series of rapid water resource assessments. It needs to undertake further work to gain a better picture in the following areas:
- Upper Nile system to ensure that this major water source is managed in an appropriate and sustainable manner. As an upstream riparian, Uganda must assure its use of the Upper Nile does not have an impact of significance on downstream countries.

- Ugandan catchments to assess the suitability of surface water sources to supply concentrations of demand — particularly the needs of small towns and rural growth centres.

- Groundwater resources to determine the ability of groundwater to meet the needs of rural water supply. Within the rural water supply sector in Uganda corrosiveness is a widespread problem. High fluoride concentrations also cause concern in some locations. There has been some speculation about the possible drying up of groundwater sources.

Establishing the Required Management Procedures and Tools

- First priority will be given to providing water of adequate quantity and quality to meet domestic needs.
- The allocation of water to meet the needs of irrigation, livestock, industry and other demands, will be made considering the economic, social and environmental values of water.
- The planning of water use will be based on sustainable yields of sources.
- Water quality management will focus on minimising pollution by specifying appropriate water quality and effluent discharge criteria.
- Linkages to land use management will be taken into account.
- Water resources management will be co-ordinated between districts within the same watersheds.
- Soil and water conservation measures, agricultural and forestry practices will be seen as integral to water resource planning.
- The important linkages between wetlands, surface water regimes and water quality will necessitate an integrated conservation and development strategy.
- In major water resources conservation or development projects, consideration will be given to the trade-offs between economic or social benefits and environmental costs; and the Environmental Impact Assessment process will be used.
- Opportunity and environmental, as well as direct, costs will be taken into account when establishing project priorities.
- Tariff systems, fees and charges will be designed to provide incentives for water conservation and minimum wastage.
- Adopting a "polluter pays" principle, fees and penalties will be assessed and levied on the volume, chemical and biological composition of the discharge - so pollution reduction at source will be encouraged.
- The allocation of water for use within Uganda will take into account international obligations.
- Regional co-operation in the development, management and equitable use of shared water resources will be promoted.
Source: Uganda Water Action Plan

Regulation and management

The DWD has recognised that it needs to put in place appropriate regulatory machinery for conservation, equitable use and protection of Uganda's water resources. It has to ensure that it has the capacity to operate and maintain that machinery. It is taking a pragmatic approach to its task, addressing the need for control over major users of water without hindering access to water for the general population, in particular the rural poor.
Under the criteria laid down in the Water Statute, and subsidiary Regulations, no regulation will be imposed on extraction of water by manual means from any source — groundwater or surface water. This means that, although the Government plans to tighten up its control over larger water users, it will continue to exempt the vast majority of rural water supply schemes from water extraction charges.

General strategies for domestic water supply

The Government has set general strategies for provision and management of domestic water supply, sanitation and sewerage services as follows:

- The Government, on a national basis, will assess investment and development efforts in the water supply and sanitation sector using an equitable share principle. Decisions will take a rationalised view on urban versus rural interventions. The Government will select areas most in need of sector improvements based on need-related criteria.

- In line with Uganda's democratic decentralisation process, water supply and sanitation policies will be based on the principle that the central authority moves away from being a 'provider' of services to an 'enabler'. This means the creation of an appropriate framework of institutions, laws, regulations, as well as capacity building and awareness raising to foster a participatory approach to sector development.

- A negotiation-driven approach will be a key principle during planning and design of water supply and sanitation facilities. The Government will channel limited funds to the communities that will maintain their new or improved facilities sustainably. This approach will also expedite implementation by encouraging beneficiaries to choose systems that they can operate and maintain and to meet their scheduled commitments accordingly.

- Sector interventions will provide support to strengthen the capacity of water sector organisations within development projects. Support will include institutional and human resource development as well as support for the principle of community management. The Government will empower and equip rural communities, inclusive of small towns and growth centres, to own and control their water supply and sanitation systems.

- The Government will select appropriate low-cost water supply and sanitation technologies. This will offer good possibilities for community participation in decision making. It will allow them to take responsibility for physical implementation, including operation and maintenance of completed facilities, without compromising the role of water as a vital infrastructure for socio-economic development.

- The Government will select sources (surface water or groundwater) with due consideration to the implication of operating costs. It will always consider groundwater when risk of contaminated surface water exists which would necessitate water purification with associated higher capital and operational costs.

- The importance of gender is recognised. The Government will address gender issues in such a way that both sexes are involved as decision makers. It will empower women and enable them to determine their own development collectively with men (A specific gender policy paper has been finalised recently).

- The Government will ensure sustainability of projects through cost recovery at a level where it recovers at least the cost of operation and maintenance from the users in rural areas. It will recover as much of the capital costs in the larger piped schemes, in addition to operation and maintenance costs.

- The Government will ensure the financial viability of public utilities. Tariff structures, with cross-subsidies where appropriate, will ensure that services can be reliably maintained, including public standposts or other facilities for the poor.

- Co-operation within the sector is important. The Government will establish mechanisms at relevant levels within the administrative system to foster country-level collaboration among stakeholders active in the sector. Tools to be used to achieve this will include Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee (IMSC) meetings for the rural water sector, Water Policy Committee (WPC) meetings for the entire water resources sector and Letter of Understanding (LOU) to guide and monitor the operation of NGOs within the water sector.

- The Government's commitment to the privatisation process in many spheres of the national development efforts also includes various aspects of the water and sanitation sector. Hence, it will establish mechanisms to facilitate participation of the private sector in the construction and actual provision of services either as individuals or groups and associations.

- The Government will support community-based operation and maintenance. It will organise access to spare parts, if not readily available on the market, and provide access to reliable technical support for major breakdowns. It will place emphasis on supporting private sector initiatives to meet these needs.

- The Government will place emphasis on the importance of linking low-cost sanitation with the provision of new water supplies, and accompanying both with appropriate health and hygiene education. Schools will be important vehicles for disseminating the key health messages. Projects will, wherever appropriate, include construction of latrines in schools, and the provision of educational materials.

- The Government will protect public utilities against vandalism, personalisation and unlawful take-overs.

The strategies outlined above are still under further development. Over time the Government will supplement these general strategies with more detailed strategies covering specific issues like technology, health and hygiene, economic and financial, management and institutional, private sector involvement, operation and maintenance, and aspects related to sustainability of services.12