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A quick guide to IRC in Uganda

Published on: 17/01/2021

Since 2005 IRC has been working in Uganda to build systems that deliver water sanitation and hygiene services that last.

We believe that strong systems at district and national levels can deliver and maintain universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and address the specific targets of SDG6 by 2030.

Our strategy to achieve the vision is hinged on partnerships and networks. IRC Uganda collaborates with national government agencies and district local governments, CSOs, research and academic institutions, private institutions, and other key WASH stakeholders to collectively ensure that the human right to WASH is granted for everyone, at all times.

Through our long-term partnership with Kabarole and the new Bunyangabu district local governments, we are supporting learning processes; conducting action research to address service delivery gaps; facilitating public-private partnerships for operations and maintenance; lobbying for increased sector coordination and financing; and piloting new service delivery models. Some of the results of this partnership include:

  • A WASH Masterplan 2018-2030 for Kabarole district which outlines the shared vision, and long-term goals and objectives for all water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities in the local government.
  • An assessment report on the state of WASH in healthcare facilities in Kabarole; and a joint workplan to invest in and improve WASH in healthcare in selected model health centres
  • Capacity building and technical support for handpump mechanics associations to operate WASH business models.
  • Neighbouring Bunyangabu district has been inspired to embrace the WASH master-planning strategy; it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IRC Uganda and the Masterplan roadmap processes are underway.
  • A structured COVID19 response action plan and funding towards behaviour change and risk communication to prevent/control the spread of COVID and other hygiene-related diseases, facilitating training on infection prevention and control for healthcare workers and increasing water supply and sanitation.  

Regionally, IRC Uganda works with the Regional Technical Support Unit 6 (TSU6), Albert Water Management Zone and Mid-western umbrella utility organisation to support long-term investment planning towards achievement of SDG 6 in the two districts.

Through advocacy platforms such as UWASNET, Environment and Natural Resources network and others, IRC Uganda seeks to influence government decisions on public finance, resource mobilisation and utilisation for equitable and sustainable development. IRC supports government initiatives namely the National Hand Washing Initiative (NHWI), the Parliamentary Forum for WASH, the National Sanitation Working Group to promote positive hygiene behaviour change, WASH governance and lobby for increased government financing for the sector.

As a national learning and change hub, we drive change by supporting collective action of sector players – resulting in strong and resilient national systems. Some of the coordination roles by IRC Uganda include:

  • The Conrad Hilton Foundation Hub which galvanises the impact of grantees in the country for improved safe water supply strategies
  • Watershed programme which aims to improve WASH governance and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) through civil society capacity strengthening for evidence-based lobbying and advocacy
  • National coordinator of the coalition of partners supported by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC now transformed to the Sanitation and Hygiene Fund) since 2015 – 2020. Under IRC’s country coordination role, WSSCC supported the Uganda Sanitation Fund of the Ministry of Health and partners to increase open-defecation free villages in rural Uganda, development partners to implement sustainable sanitation solutions in vulnerable communities; and the Ministry of Education to develop and assess models for menstrual hygiene management in schools and communities.

IRC has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Water and Environment under which various initiatives to improve service delivery, monitoring, knowledge management, learning and financing are undertaken. With the Water Resources Institute (WRI) we engage in learning and adaptability through collaborative capacity building initiatives, and co-convened events to promote integrated water resources management. Others are the Rural Water Supply Department, Urban Water and Sanitation Department, Water Sector Liaison Division, Directorate of Water Resources Management for various initiatives including supporting the roll-out of the new operations and maintenance framework, engaging in sector themed campaigns for behaviour change communications and partnering to galvanise international funding for water supply sanitation and hygiene service delivery projects in Uganda.

IRC Uganda is committed to responding to the challenges and adapting to the trends in the sector to promote and implement a whole systems approach and thinking, starting from the grassroots through consolidated partnerships with Kabarole and Bunyangabu districts, and scaling up through the regional and national structures, to achieve universal and lasting services by 2030.

Read more on our theory of change, partnerships, milestones achieved and strategic prospects towards 2030 in our 2017-2030 IRC Uganda country strategy. Follow us on www.twitter.com/ircwash_ug for regular updates and links to our work.