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Results Briefs October 16, 2020

In Uganda, Improvements in Water Management and Sanitation Services Promote Sustainability and Combat Environmental Shocks


Wastewater network construction in Gulu. 

World Bank

The Water Management and Development project improved the integration of water resources planning, management and development, as well as access to water and sanitation services in priority urban areas. More than 1.01 million people received access to improved water sources, and 25,000 piped household water connections were rehabilitated from 2012-2018.


Uganda mostly exports agricultural products (80 percent of total exports). The most important exports is coffee (22 percent of total exports) followed by tea, cotton, copper, oil and fish. Uganda’s main export partners are Sudan (15 percent), Kenya (10 percent), DR Congo, Netherlands, Germany, South Africa and UAE (Trading Economics 2020). But between 1995 and 2010, declining soil fertility, a reliance on rainfall, shrinking wetlands and deforestation have contributed to roadblocks in the growth of the agricultural sector. At the same time, demand for water supply by municipalities has increased, while poor water resources management has worsened the impact of droughts. Protection of water resources were limited and usually not considered for water projects before WMDP.


The project focused on a participatory planning process in the Kyoga and Upper Nile Water Management Zones (WMZs), and the improvement of the national water resources monitoring and information system. Specific activities included the preparation of Kyoga and Upper Nile Water Management Zones (WMZs) strategies, the development of a water information system (WIS), and network enhancement for water quality, pollution, surface and ground monitoring – among other services.

To ensure the long-term availability and improved quality of water supply through enhanced source protection, the project helped construct, improve and expand priority water supply infrastructure and sewerage services in municipalities. Specific activities included creating or updating feasibility studies, engineering designs, and document preparation for water and sanitation infrastructure systems. The project also implemented environmental and social mitigation measures. Integrated water resource management is a norm for any water project in Uganda now.


  • The project benefited 1,034,000 individuals with access to improved water sources, protected sanitary zones and increased potential for water debit from natural sources.
  • 5,590 hectares of area under integrated water resources management and development in selected catchments were supported, including through the development of four Water Management Zones (WMZ), four Catchment Management Plans and a Water Resources Strategy
  • The new water intake systems and water treatment facilities were built in 10 towns, water network was expanded, and new water and wastewater connections were constructed. In Arua, two wastewater treatment plants and one fecal sludge management plant were constructed and became fully operational.
  • From 2012-2018, the number of piped household water connections benefiting from rehabilitation works increased from 14,332 connections to 25,000 connections.

The Table below presets the key performance indicators for the largest towns under the WMDP (*In parenthesis – percent of household connections)



Service Coverage (%)*



Hours of Operation per Day


Name of the town








96 (79)

100 (81)




26 (23)

100 (72)





100 (45)

Several hours per week



45 (30)

70 (50)[1]



1.01 million people

received access to improved water sources, and 25,000 piped household water connections were rehabilitated from 2012-2018

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the International Development Association (IDA), provided US$135 million to the Uganda Water Management and Development Project.  The project activities in the Gulu municipality were co-financed by German Development Bank (KfW) in amount of EUR 5 million.


The World Bank worked with the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC). MWE, the main implementing agency for the project, though the Directorate of Water Resources Management (DWD), the National Forestry Agency and the Department of Forest Services also assisted in project implementation.

Moving Forward

WMDP suggested to maintain a focus on delivering services to the end customer. While backbone infrastructure is a prerequisite, it is not useful if end-users do not connect. Utilities in planning investments should be sure that demand exists, dedicate resources to connect customers efficiently, and then maintain services.

Timely coordination with other financing donors is useful. Effective donor coordination and use of parallel financing from KfW proved to be very useful during implementation. It will be useful to ensure that these are better timed to ensure all parallel contracts and financing close simultaneously.

Stakeholder engagement throughout the project cycle is critical for both design and sustainability of investments. The Project supported community participation in the development of the CMPs and the selection of investments to be financed under the project. While this slowed implementation to allow for preparation of detailed designs and resulted in revised cost estimates, it also created an important sense of ownership by communities that will ensure their sustainability.


Water and sewerage services are bringing new residents, businesses, and employment.

New water services seemed affordable to all, but some may use alternative water sources if water becomes costly. Private vendors’ water, however, is 4 to 20 times more expensive than that offered by the NWSC, new water provider.

New water services already reduced morbidity (for example, no cholera cases and reported significant reduction of cases of intestinal worms and diarrheal infection in Arua for the last two years, since water project was completed there).

Water services provision practically eliminated domestic violence. This was caused by the fact that many women during the dry season had to leave homes every evening to get water and in some cases were staying there overnight.

There is increase in the value of existing homes and land by 10–50 percent if connected to water and wastewater networks.