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Straddling the equator in East Africa, Uganda shares borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, and Tanzania. More than 50 ethnic groups share this country, which also borders Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. The economy is based upon agriculture, and poverty still challenges this country; for decades the economy suffered from devastating economic policies and instability, leaving it one of the world’s poorest nations.

According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), 75% of people have access to safe water and 35% to improved sanitation. While significant water infrastructure exists in Uganda, due to a lack of strong operation and maintenance mechanisms, many systems are broken and much of the infrastructure no longer meets government standards for access, quantity, and quality.

Water For People began work in Uganda in September 2008, building relationships with the government and local development organizations, and learning about the population’s water and sanitation needs. Working in partnership with local government, initial water and sanitation programs began in Kyenjojo and Mukono. Water For People’s focus areas have since expanded to include Kampala, Kamwenge, and Kapchowra.


Rural access to improved water:
Rural access to improved sanitation:
English, Ganda or Luganda
Per capita income:
Life expectancy (M/F):
Under-five mortality rate:
131/1,000 live births

Source: World Health Organization


Water For People–Uganda is starting its programming efforts by focusing on the district of Kamwenge located in western Uganda and home to 317,000 people. Agriculture is the mainstay of this rural district’s economy, which has some of the highest poverty levels in the country.

While efforts are concentrated on in Kamwenge, Water For People–Uganda is programming in Kampala, Kapchowra, Kyenjojo, and Mukono, testing innovative business development approaches. In Kampala, Kapchowra, and Mukono, Water For People–Uganda is working with Captiva to promote Sanitation as a Business (SAAB) by supporting the establishment of sanitation entrepreneurs and financing for households to access toilets. In Kyenjojo, Water For People–Uganda is promoting water as a business through the metering of hand pumps. By tracking water usage and monetizing consumption, Water For People–Uganda hopes to address the chronic issue of broken water pumps in rural areas by using profit to incentivize operators to repair hand pumps and keep water flowing.


Lasting water and sanitation solutions can be achieved only when key players—in the private sector, civil society, and local government—are supported. Therefore, Water For People is deeply involved with key local stakeholders, including the local governments of Kyenjojo, Mukono, and Kamwenge; a business development service provider, Captiva; and local nongovernmental organizations.

Current Work

Water For People–Uganda plans to continue exploration and testing of innovative models for piloting both water and sanitation businesses. Assessments of both water and sanitation markets will take place throughout the year to better understand the opportunities for businesses. In addition, those businesses established over the past year will continue to be monitored and supported. In Kamwenge, Water For People–Uganda will complete a baseline assessment of the district to better understand the water and sanitation situation, and the results will help establish a plan for new water systems.


In Kyenjojo and Kamwenge, Water For People–Uganda is working to increase the sustainability of water systems by exploring the role of the private sector and the potential of water businesses to manage water systems. This includes metering of hand pumps.

At present, water operators do not have a way to track water usage of hand pumps, which has resulted in an inability to monetize water usage and charge appropriate tariffs, limiting entrepreneurial activity around borehole management. In 2012, Water For People–Uganda identified and fitted a meter for hand pumps that will now be piloted in Kyenjojo and allow operators to control their costs with enough precision to set competitive and flexible pricing. This will create profit incentives to keep water flowing, which in turn will lead to fewer nonfunctioning water points.

Water For People–Uganda is increasing the sustainability of water systems by utilizing the private sector to manage water systems.

Water For People–Uganda is promoting a market-based approach to sanitation and is investigating opportunities for local sanitation entrepreneurs, primarily in Kampala but also in Mukono and Kapchowra. Water For People–Uganda has contracted with the Business Development Service (BDS) provider Captiva, which is leading the sanitation business support process in Uganda. Captiva is working with 15 sanitation businesses and testing different approaches to increase demand and supply of sanitation services.