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Secure safe water in sub-Saharan Africa

Project Reference: AAAF-0013

Approximately half of all people globally who lack access to safe drinking water live in sub-Saharan Africa. The prevalence of debilitating water born diseases accentuates the vulnerability of affected communities to climate change. A large portion of the protected water sources installed in past years has fallen into disuse and current installations remain prone to dysfunction. At the same time, traditional hygiene practices, (now inappropriate in areas of increasing population density) persist. The combination of low functionality and poor hygiene implies that in many areas effective access to safe water is minimal.

A possible reason for this situation is that there are insufficient financial incentives in place to maintain safe water sources and to continuously coach appropriate hygiene practices.

The project explores this proposal by introducing a payment-by-results (PBR) pilot system in rural Uganda. The project creates a framework under which local private sector professionals earn an income from preventive maintenance and hygiene promotion services.

In the PBR system, surveys are conducted to measure the number of litres of clean water hygienically consumed. This allows confirmation that a specific investment led to consumption of a number of litres of safe water over and above what would have been consumed otherwise. The measurement therefore prices and quantifies ‘water credits’, which are sold to provide a return on the investment. The sales bring in a revenue stream covering the cost of a consistent supply of safe water in vulnerable communities.

This revenue stream is designed to endure for as long as it takes to “normalise” safe water, that is, to instill appropriate hygiene and operational reliability of clean sources.

The project is designed to simultaneously strengthen existing public structures, usually Water User Committees, which manage shared water sources in Uganda. As water users become more confident in the strengthened Committees and in the services of local maintenance technicians, it is believed that they will become more willing to pay the full cost of safe water provision. The project therefore constitutes a transitional period toward effective community payment for safe water services.

The objectives of the project are to:

  • Provide local and central government in Uganda a demonstration model for enabling rural water service companies to provide preventive maintenance,
  • Pioneer a water credits market, to provide transitional finance towards effective community management and user-payment
  • Investigate output-based development assistance by providing a case-study example for a Payment-by-Results methodology
  • Build capacity with government, communities and NGOs to deal with climate change challenges and support climate compatible development

The project is conceived and led by Whave Solutions Ltd, working in partnership with Busoga Trust, other NGO partners, District Water Officers in Uganda, and the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment.

Project Manager: Margaret Kamau

Funding: £355 000

Timeframe: Feb 2013 – Mar 2015

Additional Resources

  • Blog by Adam Harvey describing the project
  • Blog by Adam Harvey on preliminary results in the projects first year
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Project Highlights