ADA at the Uganda Water Week: Highlights of a busy week

World Water Day on March 22 was especially busy for our Local Office in Uganda. The signing of a contract to protect Uganda’s wetlands and a panel discussion on the recentely concluded Water and Sanitation project we implemented in Northern Uganda were some of the highlights of the fourth Ugandan Water Week.

With our four-year EU-TF WASH (European Union Trust Fund Water and Sanitation) project coming to an end, our Local Office for Development Cooperation in Kampala hosted a panel discussion on World Water Day (whose theme this year was “valuing water”) to demystify the value of water in Uganda’s refugee context. The discussion attracted the participation of key stake holders, including government officials from the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) and key development partners (EU, UNHCR, GIZ, World Bank and the French Development Agency). The event sought to showcase the innovations, challenges and lessons learnt in implementing WASH response programmes for refugees and host communities in Northern Uganda, as well as recommendations moving forward.

A virtual field trip showed participants the accomplishments of the project. Its main success was ending water trucking in the refugee settlements concerned. Other key highlights were the integration of host communities in the water supply schemes, a sustainable costed operation and maintenance model and finally the handing over of completed water infrastructures to a governmental agency, the Northern Umbrella for Water and Sanitation. The evaluation confirms a decrease in water-born diseases. The project has certainly set new standards for similar programmes in the years to come.

On the same day, our Local Office signed a Grant Agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to support the “Restoration of Wetlands and Associated Catchments Project in Eastern Uganda”. Wetland restoration is a presidential initiative in Uganda in the light of better natural resource management and climate resilience. This project seeks to support the Ugandan Government in restoring wetlands and associated catchments by promoting integrated, equitable and sustainable management of water and related resources. We will contribute 1,919,000 euros. The project will complement an ongoing wetland restoration project in Uganda funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF). With districts such as Budaka, Butaleja, Butebo, Kibuku and Namutumba witnessing alarming rates of wetland degradation, the project will directly benefit 264,000 people from 66,000 households and indirectly benefit an estimated 1.1 million people in the target districts.

Our work in Uganda

Our EU-TF WASH project was presented on the occasion of the fourth Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK), held by the MWE as a hybrid (physical and virtual) event from March 21 to 26, 2021. The UWEWK was hosted in collaboration with key partners coupled with high-level political participation and other sector stakeholders, both nationally and internationally. The event commenced with the annual commemoration of three important International Days: World Forest Day (March 21), World Water Day (March 22) and World Meteorological Day (March 23). With very limited physical participation, we were privileged to attend both the opening and the closing ceremonies of the event as a key development partner. In addition, we successfully encouraged the participation of Fridays For Future environmental activists on a UWEWK panel discussion on young professionals in the Ugandan Water Sector to stress the importance of the climate change agenda in the sector.

We have been partnering with the Ugandan Government for over 20 years. Water and environment are among our priority focuses of our engagement in the East African country. In this sector, we have achieved several accomplishments during the past two decades. Most notably, we have established a decentralized water management model – the so called “Water Umbrellas” – which was first piloted in South Western Uganda and then introduced across the entire country.

Due to our expertise, we were chosen by the EU to lead the WASH project of the Support Programme to the Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU). The programme was funded under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and was formulated in response to the spike of the refugee community in Uganda from 200,000 in 2014 to more than 1,000,000 refugees in 2017. We implemented the WASH project from December 2016 to November 2020 in close collaboration with the MWE, UNHCR and OPM. The goal of the project was to provide sustainable water and improved environmental conditions for refugees and host communities through durable solutions to water and sanitation needs. At a cost of 4.9 million euros, an estimated 145,000 people in both refugee and host communities benefited.

Follow the link below to watch our documentary on the EU-TF WASH project to find out more. We are aware of technical difficulties when watching the video on Android. For optimal quality, please open the link in your browser while we are fixing the problem.