Rural water supply in Uganda: Major strides in sector coordination and performance

Research reports and studies
June 2011
Simon O’Meally

Water of adequate quantity and quality is essential to sustaining human life and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Although progress has been made globally in providing access to improved water sources, challenges remain in many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Uganda has been no stranger to these challenges. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with rapid population growth putting pressure on freshwater resource availability. Poverty incidence remains high, in spite of progress made, and is firmly entrenched in rural areas, which are home to more than 80% of Ugandans. In the early 1990s, the rural water sector was characterised by a relatively weak sector policy framework, limited sector coordination and insufficient institutional capacity. More than 60% of the rural population – some 9 million rural inhabitants – lacked access to safe drinking water.

Nevertheless, Uganda has made notable progress in rural water sector coordination and performance, and has increased rural access to improved water sources. Sector progress surged in the late 1990s and into the mid-2000s. Challenges going forward include declining sector resource allocation, some fragmentation of sector activities and changing political economy priorities.