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Published on: 10/03/2015

Uganda's rural water sector has two service delivery models that use a community-based management paradigm: Water User Committees for point sources, and Water Supply and Sanitation Boards for piped schemes. Neither has achieved sustainable service at scale: performance of water service delivery has stagnated over the past five years, with access remaining at 60–65% and functionality at 80–83%, because of gaps between policy and practice, weak support mechanisms and weak community ownership. Two innovations have emerged in some districts: hand pump mechanics associations, and new financing mechanisms that integrate community-led savings and credit initiatives for operations and maintenance ("YY strategy").

The experiment has led to an improved understanding of the two rural service delivery models, their performance and the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders. A set of indicators was used to develop a framework for monitoring rural water service delivery. Application of the service delivery indicators reveals that rural water systems often provide a service below the sector norms and standards. A Policy Brief summarises recommendations for strengthening the Water Source Committee model and another provides recommendations for Supporting Hand Pump Mechanics to improve operation and maintenance.

The study triggered two new experiments:

  • Strengthening the service delivery model with stronger, innovative, support mechanisms: Hand Pump Mechanics Associations (HPMAs) and Sub-County Water Supply and Sanitation Boards to strengthen operation and maintenance of rural water supply facilities.
  • Improving monitoring by using a broader set of service delivery indicators beyond the 11 Golden indicators outlined in the sector policy.

Who was involved?

IRC Uganda worked with

  • Sector stakeholders in Aleptong, Kitgum, Lira and Nwoya, Kabarole, Kamwenge, Kasese and Kyenjonjo districts, including water users, district and subcounty staff, local NGOs, area mechanics.
  • Ministry of Water and Environment MIS group: guidance and validation of the development and results of the sector performance measurement.
  • Makerere University (M4Water): developing data collection tools and data storage in the public domain.
  • SNV Uganda and NETWAS Uganda: supporting capacity building of sector stakeholders.
  • International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and Fontes Foundation: development of indicators and data collection tools.
  • Triple-S: statistical analysis

Find out more

A selection of publications is available on this website (scroll down for more)

Briefing Notes- Performance of Rural Water Service Providers and Service Authorities in eight districts in Uganda (2014) and Level of service received by water users in eight districts in Uganda (2014)

Research Study Report- Assessment of performance of the service delivery of point sources , V. Bey, J. Abisa, P. Magara (2014)

For more information contact IRC Uganda country Director, Jane Nabunnya Mulumba

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