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Sub-county water supply and sanitation boards: an experiment

Published on: 06/09/2014

Many sector organisations in Uganda believes water boards will bridge gaps in community management. The IRC-led Triple-S initiative has been supporting an experiment to assess whether and how these boards can be made viable.

Under Uganda’s community-based management system for point sources, water-user committees are responsible for operations and maintenance. These committees operate with limited technical and financial support and an uncertain legal status. Committees cannot sue or be sued and thus are not legally obligated to perform or able to compel users to pay fees. The result is an inability to fund major repairs.

The Boards provide management support to the WSCs and enable pooling of funds at sub-county level to ensure O&M costs can be covered.

One alternative is an entity at the sub-county level that mobilises and manages resources for all water-user committees in the jurisdiction. Professional administrators would handle finances and planning, represent the area’s water-user committees and engage local handpump mechanics associations for repairs. Government allocations for operations and maintenance would be pooled to fund major repairs and rehabilitation. In effect, the water-user committee model and the water supply and sanitation board model would be merged, and the new boards would become the principal service authority for an entire sub-county.

This experiment has tested the concept of 'Sub-County Water Supply and Sanitation Boards' for making services more reliable. It is one of the innovative approaches being tested as part of the collaborative efforts of Triple-S to make rural water services more sustainable. A policy brief highlights lessons and recommendations from the experiment.  The presentation below gives an overview of the experiment and emerging lessons.

 The MWE, through the Technical Support Units (TSUs) and Umbrella Organisations for Northern and Mid-
Western Uganda, 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

Several videos explore the challenges and possible improvements the boards could have on community management of rural water services. In this video Paul Nyeko Ogiramoi, Principal Engineer in the Planning and Development Division of the Rural Water and Sanitation Department in the Ministry of Water and the Environment, explains how the boards can make community management work.

For more information contact: Jane Nabunnya Mulumba, IRC Uganda Country Coordinator.

 

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