INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT INTO SANITATION AND WATER BUSINESS
HISTORY OF PROGRAM
Water For People began its work in Uganda in September 2008 by building relationships with the government, private sector, and local development organizations, and learning about the population’s water and sanitation needs. Working together with local partners, Water For People-Uganda is now supporting water and/or sanitation business initiatives in six districts of Kamwenge, Kampala, Kitgum, Lira, Masaka, and Soroti.
Everyone Forever is a unique programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts and municipalities Forever. It means these districts and communities never need an international water agency to address their water challenges again. It also provides a model for greater replication, leading to a push for national full water and sanitation coverage. Water For People-Uganda is starting its Everyone Forever efforts by focusing on the district of Kamwenge.
Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when local players – the private sector, civil society, local organizations, and local governments – are supported. As such, Water For People is deeply involved with key local stakeholders, including district local governments; the Ministry of Health; Ministry of Water and Environment; Ministry of Education; Makerere University, Post Bank; Sanitation Solutions Group, and other international organizations.
As a member of several national organizations advocating for water and sanitation policy improvements in the sector, Water For People is working to increase sustainable water and sanitation coverage in Uganda. One of Water For People’s key activities is to help establish an Everyone Forever Hub, an organizational body that will promote collaboration and innovation to increase water and sanitation coverage in the country in a holistic and sustainable manner. In 2015, Water For People-Uganda worked together with Everyone Forever Hub members to develop a communication and advocacy roadmap for effectively communicating the activities and goals of the hub.
Additionally, Water For People-Uganda held preliminary discussions with the Ministry of Water and Environment to develop investment planning in districts with less than 65% coverage. This investment planning involves determining the current level of water coverage and the correct technical interventions in each district to achieve full water coverage.
Water For People-Uganda has been exploring different approaches to supporting sustainable water systems. A critical aspect of the program is working to establish management models specific to the water infrastructure. In Kamwenge, Water For People-Uganda is working to increase the sustainability of water systems by exploring the role of the private sector and the water business’ potential to manage water systems; entrusting water entrepreneurs with the management of water systems, a model called Water as Business (WAAB). WAAB includes supporting water entrepreneurs and the metering of hand pumps and piped water supplies to track water usage and charge a tariff based on the amount of water collected.
By tracking water usage and monetizing consumption, Water For People-Uganda is using the profit generated to address the chronic issue of broken water pumps and keep water flowing in rural Uganda. To support this system, Water For People supports the training of entrepreneurs that manage a series of hand pumps, private operators that manage piped water supply systems, and hand pump mechanics that repair these systems. Additionally, Water For People sensitizes communities to this new approach of water system management.
Water For People-Uganda is promoting a market-based approach to sanitation by working with sanitation businesses and testing different approaches to increase demand and supply of sanitation services. A key component of Water For People-Uganda’s sanitation work is its research, which is done through the SaniHub, a team of engineers that researches and tests different sanitation technologies to best meet community sanitation needs. Through the SaniHub, technologies like the Rammer, a simple mechanical pit emptying technology, the Decentralised Faecal Sludge Treatment System (DEFAST) to treat fecal sludge, the tin toilet which serves areas with high water table and collapsing soils, and the Durasan and tiger toilets, among others, have been developed. The SaniHub team is currently researching and testing the Pump and Go pit emptying device, which makes pit emptying faster, the Grappler to facilitate efficient transportation of sludge, and black soldier flies to decompose fecal sludge.
Water For People-Uganda also supports various sanitation businesses, connecting them to the tried and tested SaniHub technologies and providing them business support. Water For People works to identify sanitation entrepreneurs, whether they be pit toilet emptiers, sanitation technology fabricators, or masons to construct toilets, and connects them to the financial capital necessary to run their business, while also providing direct business development services.
Water For People-Uganda continues to work toward increasing water coverage in Kamwenge, through the construction of new piped water supply systems, the rehabilitation of a gravity fed scheme, the motorization of deep boreholes, and the establishment of rainwater catchment systems in schools. Water For People is also working to refine its water management structures. In 2015, Water For People piloted three different water management schemes, based on the type of water infrastructure. Water For People has a full time Business Development Support employee who provides support to different water entrepreneurs while modifying the existing management structures to best fit the region’s needs. To promote local water resources management, Water For People has established gardens at hand pumps, carried out elaborate water safety plans to improve water quality, and planted trees to increase recharge. At a national level, Water For People has trained sector players particularly Technical Support Units (TSU’s) in developing district investment plans and will strengthen the Everyone Forever Hub.