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Sub county water boards still require support to function effectively

Published on: 01/06/2015

While IRC/Triple-S was still operating in Lira District, it provided a lot of support to the newly established Sub-county Water Supply and Sanitation Boards. Since the closure of the Triple-S Initiative in the district in November 2014, the boards have strived to continue operating in spite of numerous challenges. An assessment was undertaken in April 2015 to review progress and make recommendations on how boards can be able to continue operating effectively. 

In a bid to improve user contribution towards operation and maintenance of rural water facilities, IRC/Triple-S in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and district local governments of Lira and Kabarole piloted an area based management model for operation and maintenance of rural water facilities.

Piloted in Lira and Kabarole Districts July 2013 – August 2014, the model promotes establishment of Sub-county Water Supply and Sanitation Boards (SWSSBs) to provide management support to the Water User Committees (WUCs) through pooling of funds and clustering of water facilities at sub-county level to ensure that Operation and Maintenance (O&M) costs can be covered. The boards also provide a structure that can manage O&M funds for Capital maintenance transferred from District Water and Sanitation Conditional grant. The Ministry of Water and Environment has been long considering transferring O&M funds to the sub-county level, but there is neither a structure nor the capacity to manage the funds at that level.

A total of 14 boards were established, eight with support from Triple-S and six others by the Local governments of Lira and Kabarole.

The newly created boards received training on their roles and responsibilities and were supported to work with sub-county authorities to reach out to WUCs in their areas. Water users were brought on board through parish dialogues conducted in each of the sub-counties. SWSSBs have supported WUCs to manage the funds and ensure accountability to communities.

The Ministry of Water and Environment has embraced the concept of SWSSBs and is now trying to provide direct technical support to the Boards for this expanded mandate. The SWSSBs have been incorporated in the Sector guidelines for financial year 2014/15 (MWE, 2014a). A hand book has also been published by MWE with support from IRC/Triple-S to guide the operationalization and scale up of the SWSSBs in other geographic areas.

Several NGOs including SNV, Link to Progress/We Consult, and Divine Waters have bought into the concept of working with SWSSBs to strengthen institutional support for operation and maintenance;

  • SNV intends to do some capacity development of the boards under the ADA project,
  • Link to Progress in partnership with We Consult have received a grant from Charity Water and would also like to engage the boards.
  • Divine Waters working with Lira Sub-county board to improve functionality of water facilities in the sub-county

In April IRC Uganda conducted follow-up monitoring visits for SWSSBs in Lira. The purpose of the assessment is to get an update on the progress of the District Local Governments (DLGs) in operationalising the boards and identify the emerging issues to inform further capacity development efforts.

It was found that since the exit of Triple-S in November 2014, some of the boards have persisted and continued performing their duties – specifically Lira Sub-county board. Other boards have encountered several challenges and have not quite progressed as was anticipated.

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