This news item has been reproduced with permission from Project Maji
Addressing stubborn rural water challenges requires sustainable, holistic, innovative and collaborative efforts. To this end, the Dutch NGO Woord en Daad initiated the WaterTime Consortium, uniting the rural water expertise of Uganda Water Project, Project Maji and Practica Foundation to improve equitable access to water through management of paid, sustainable drinking water services for rural communities in Central Uganda.
Each partner contributes to the progressive objectives of the consortium to expedite the sustainable access of drinking water and improving the Ugandan drinking water sector. The 3-year project is propelled by the introduction of novel rural water supply techniques such as solar-powered access points, electronic payment systems and integrated post-structure maintenance support. The project will directly impact over 26,000 people via a combination of 15 solar-powered waterpiped systems, 36 communal water access points and household connections.
Access to water has been a consistent problem in the region that has affected thousands of households throughout the region. For example, Luwero District in the central region of Uganda is an agricultural area where 32% of the rural population has no access to safe water points. This forces them to gather water through unsafe means, posing serious health and development concerns. The WaterTime consortium exists to change this.
Realizing Sustainable Safe Water Access
Water point sustainability is complex and challenging and refers to the performance requirements including the technical, institutional, and financial capacity to satisfy public health and safety requirements on a long-term basis. The WaterTime consortium applies a system change approach to facilitate and ensure the water service in the long term on community level and aims to address system challenges in the sector, exceeding the project boundaries, e.g. by improving the dissemination of the governmental Operation and Maintenance Strategy to all sector stakeholders The project design stresses the importance of financial sustainability requiring consumers to pay for the service through a pay-as-you-go model. Next, the implementing partner Uganda Water Project will manage the kiosks through AquaTrust, their service provision arm. The maintenance services of the AquaTrust technicians ensure uptime and long-term reliability of the rural water access points.
Collaboration and co-creation
To truly accelerate rural water access, the consortium leverages each partners’ expertise. The lead partner, Woord en Daad, coordinates the overall project planning, provides guidance on strategy, operational and budget issues. Safe water enterprise Project Maji is responsible for developing, supplying, and guiding implementation of solar-powered water systems. It leverages novel technologies such as remote monitoring and e-payment for optimal and sustainable service delivery. Uganda Water Project is responsible for sensitization of the community, the implementation and maintenance of the solar-powered water-piped systems, performing O&M duties via their servicing arm AquaTrust and establishing government partnerships to further the consortium’s rural water agenda. Finally, Practica Foundation – a non-profit rural water consultancy agency– acts as an external advisor to the consortium to provide technical guidance on systems design and rural water engineering.
The first five systems, comprising of two small-piped systems with multiple access points and three standalone water kiosks are expected to be installed by the last quarter of 2022.
Ultimately, safe water access is a basic necessity and a fundamental human right without substitutes. Keeping this in mind, this consortium leverages the expertise of each partner in the interest of accelerated and sustainable access to safe water in Central Uganda.