The RUWASS (Reform of the Urban Water and Sanitation Sector) programme was established in 2002 to support the Government of Uganda’s urban water and sanitation sector reforms. It is a project jointly implemented by the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, formerly GTZ – German Technical Cooperation).
Although the Government of Uganda has achieved many improvements in the framework of its sector reform such as greater water and sanitation coverage, increased service reliability, stronger performances in billing and revenue collection, much remains to be accomplished.
The country’s efforts with regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for water and sanitation are enshrined in the National Development Plan (2010/22011 – 2014/2015) and are directed towards attaining urban water coverage of 100% and national sanitation coverage of 77% by 2015. Due to its great progress in the urban setting thus far, the Government of Uganda was able to revise its original urban sanitation coverage target up to 100%. This means the whole of Uganda’s urban population is to have access to safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities by 2015.
However, current water supply and sanitation rates have still not reached the desired level. Despite progress made over the previous decade, average urban water coverage currently stands at 67%, with 74% in large towns and a below national average of merely 51% in all small towns combined. The reform not only seeks to lower such discrepancies, but aims at providing the growing urban population with a more equitable and sustainable access to safe drinking water supply and sanitation.
Low access rates, an overall poor infrastructure and increasing pollution of fresh water sources, a steadily rising population growth rate, continuous rural-urban migration, and the repatriation of formerly Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Northern Uganda are key challenges the sector is facing. GIZ RUWASS seeks to address the existing discrepancies between the North and the South of the country by focusing on Northern Uganda.
It is in particular the urban poor residing in low-income areas and informal settlements, who oftentimes have only rudimentary access to water supply and sanitation facilities and, thus, tend to be affected by water-induced diseases and overall ill healthmore frequently.
The primary challenges the MWE, which has the lead in Uganda’s water sector and in matters pertaining to public sanitation facilities, needs to address the prevalent lack of institutional, regulatory, and management capacities. Furthermore, the sector is facing challenges in management, governance problems, and limited financing.
In addition to that, expected climate change impacts such as more extreme weather events and a rise in temperature lower the chances of maintaining the status quo in Uganda’s water and sanitation sector. RUWASS considers it an imperative to also address adaptation to climate change in the framework of the water and sanitation sector reform.
Thus, GIZ supports the MWE in its endeavour of developing the urban sub-sector into an efficient, sustainable system providing affordable services the poor population can also benefit from, and which is characterised by sound governance, a well-functioning investment management, and cost efficiency in service delivery.