Challenges of providing clean and safe water to the urban poor in Uganda: a case study of Kisenyi Central Division Kampala District.
Akankwasa, Herbert B.
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This study assesses the main challenges of providing clean and safe water to the urban poor in Uganda. It examines the affordability of the current water tariffs/prices, the extent to which the current water policies and regulatory framework protects the interest of the urban poor and then gives an assessment of the best practices for equity and for increasing access to clean and safe water services in informal settlements. The study was prompted by the fact that despite the interventions by NWSC aimed at increasing accessibility of water services to the urban poor by providing public kiosks and yard taps, accessibility of clean water among the urban poor still remains a big problem. A review of the literature revealed that water policies in Uganda are so discriminative in nature that they do not recognize the socio-economic conditions of the urban poor. The study used a case study research design and is dominantly qualitative in nature although to some extent quantitative methods are employed to show statistical information. Stratified sampling was used in the selection of respondents and these were supplemented with a few key informants who were selected using purposive sampling due to their central role in the formulation and implementation of water policies. The major finding of the study indicate that measures taken by NWSC to increase and improve accessibility of clean and safe water services among the urban poor have made little impact on ground. This is because issues related to affordability and improper individual practices and attitudes which pose the greatest challenge to accessibility and usage of clean and safe water have not been properly addressed. Problems related to affordability of water tariffs, individual attitudes and practices, discriminative nature of water policies and service access rules and poor monitoring and evaluation of implemented projects have been identified as some of the major obstacles hindering accessibility and usage of clean and safe water among the urban poor. Because of these problems, service sustainability is so low that consumers in informal settlements have become illusive i.e. they welcome the project (public kiosk or yard tap) when it is starting but they use the service for just a short time and abandon it and resort to their old, cheap but unsafe water sources. Policy and ethical issues relating to this research have also been identified. These includelack of participation and involvement of the residents both and formulation and implementation stages of water policies, imbalance in service delivery, discrimination and also exploitation of the urban poor. Finally, the study concludes by recommending measures that should be undertaken by government and NWSC in particular to improve clean and safe water service access and the sustainability of the service. The most important of these recommendations is that NWSC should reduce the water tariff on public kiosks and yard taps and also implement a policy that aims at commercializing the management and distribution of water services by fixing and monitoring water prices for vendors and clearly stating the water vendor commission (operation profit) to avoid price hikes and to make water supply a business for private investment. Other recommendations of the study include carrying out continuous city-wide sensitization programs in support of water services and hygiene awareness.