Water Journalists Africa

April 24, 2019

WSUP Advisory, the consulting arm of Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), has launched a project to improve access to water for 600,000 people in small towns and rural growth centres in western Uganda, thanks to a four-year grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

The funding will enable WSUP Advisory to provide support and guidance to the Mid-Western Umbrella of Water and Sanitation (MWUWS) in Uganda, enabling the utility to extend services to more poor and vulnerable customers, improve the efficiency of available water resources, and ultimately improve its financial position.


61% of Uganda’s population have access to Safe Water, while 75% do not have access to proper Sanitation. Photo by Fredrick Mugira

“We are excited to support WSUP’s work with the Mid-Western Umbrella of Water and Sanitation to improve access to safe and affordable water for their customers,” said Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. “WSUP works hand-inhand with service providers to achieve both full cost recovery and long-term change using an approach that addresses gaps in resources, information flows and accountability.”

An estimated 30% of the people living within the project area do not have access to an improved water supply, which may not only compromise their health but also their ability to work and to learn.

The evolution of villages into small towns is a key feature of the urbanisation trend in Africa, where a quarter of the population now lives in urban centres with less than 50,000, and often a few thousand, inhabitants.

In villages, services can be provided in a relatively informal manner; but in small towns, more formal systems are required to ensure that services can be provided effectively. The large distances between these small towns, however, creates management and logistical challenges for a utility.

The project being supported by WSUP Advisory will cover inhabitants living across 9,500km2 , an area six times the size of greater London. To address this, part of WSUP’s approach will be to introduce new technology that can enable the MWUWS to manage a large number of relatively small water systems across this huge area.

Water is becoming increasingly scarce partly due to climate change

The new grant builds on an initial one-year project, also funded by the Hilton Foundation, which provided some priority assistance to the MWUWS following its appointment as a regional water authority in July 2017. Its mandate has grown rapidly since then and it already has responsibility for 65 water schemes, and it is anticipated that shortly it will be responsible for over 100.

“We are excited to be part of the on-going water sector transformation that will improve access and levels of service to over 600,000 people living in rapidly growing small towns spanning 13 districts in Uganda,” said Julius Byamugisha, Manager of MWUWS. “We thank WSUP Advisory and the Conrad Hilton Foundation for taking this journey with us.”

 “Improving basic services in rapidly growing small towns is a crucial part of managing urbanisation successfully,” said Neil Jeffery, CEO of Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor. “We are delighted to be working with Hilton Foundation on this important project to improve the lives of thousands living in the Mid-Western Region.”

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