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Evolution of management models required as rural communities in Uganda climb the water ladder

Published on: 03/04/2012

Many African countries, including Uganda, are increasingly replacing the point source with the handpump. In order to support this change in infrastructure, water and sanitation actors in Uganda are applying the Water Supply and Sanitation Board (WSSB) model as an answer to the traditional community management and governance model—an approach which proved inadequate. In keeping financial viability of piped water supplies in mind, Lucrezia Koestler from Fontes Foundation and IRC’s Rene van Lieshout analyse whether the WSSB model is a suitable management mechanism for piped water schemes. 

Like in many other African countries, piped water supply schemes in Uganda are increasingly replacing the traditional point source with the handpump. As the traditional community management and governance model for point sources is not adequate for the piped schemes serving larger populations, a new Service Delivery Model in Uganda has been developed.

It is the Water Supply and Sanitation Board (WSSB) model, orginally designed for smaller town but later adapted to smaller piped water schemes with a separation of management, operational and authority functions and with aspirations for higher private sector involvement in the drinking water sector.

The model has been rolled out over the past 15 years and although it is showing promising results in the field of cost recovery and general O&M compared to the traditional community managed model, a number of questions remain to be answered.

Can the WSSB model provide lessons and options for modernisation of the community management model? It is also clear that in practice, many variations of the model are being developed. Can the model accommodate these variations instead of pushing them into the ideal model? Accountability in the model appears to be still weak, in particular towards the consumers. How important is this and can this be improved?

You can download the report Piped Schemes in Uganda from this site.