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 made of 36 million people share this country that borders Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile. Poverty is a huge challenge in this agricultural-based economy, but recent economic reforms have led to robust growth.

According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO), 95 percent of people in urban areas and 71 percent in rural areas have access to safe water. But only 34 percent of the population in both urban and rural areas are using improved sanitation facilities. Despite significant water infrastructure, a lack of strong operation and maintenance mechanisms means many systems are broken and no longer meet government standards for access, quantity, and quality.


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 began work in Uganda in September 2008, collaborating with local partners to support water and/or sanitation business initiatives in eight districts. The Everyone Forever program targets specific districts and municipalities that can act as a model for replication across the country.

Our primary focus for EF programming is in Kamwenge, located in western Uganda, home to 317,000 people. Agriculture is the main economic driver of this rural district that has some of the highest poverty levels in the country. We also work in Kampala, Mukono, Masaka, Mbarara, Kitgum, and Bukedea districts, promoting Sanitation as a Business (SAAB) by supporting entrepreneurs to construct and empty toilets, and by building financing mechanisms for households to access toilets. In Kyegerwa district, we are promoting Water as a Business (WAAB) through hand pump metering.


Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when key players in the private sector, civil society, and local government get involved. In Uganda, we work with the local district governments; business development service providers; water and sanitation entrepreneurs; and local non-governmental organizations.

Moving Forward

In 2014, Water For People–Uganda completed a baseline assessment of Kamwenge district and is now supporting the construction of one piped water supply system that will be managed by a private operator. We are also facilitating the rehabilitation of 40 hand pumps with meters and training hand pump mechanics and entrepreneurs to operate and manage these systems. Through SAAB programming, Water For People-Uganda will continue to work with businesses to test new technologies to improve the sanitation supply chain and provide improved sanitation services to the people in need.

Innovate Initiatives for Permanent Solutions

Water For People–Uganda has been exploring different approaches to supporting sustainable water systems. A critical aspect of the program is establishing different management models that are well maintained to provide communities with reliable, uninterrupted access to safe drinking water. In Kyegerwa and Kamwenge, we are working to increase water system sustainability by exploring the role of the private sector and water businesses, including training entrepreneurs and hand pump mechanics, sensitizing communities to this new approach, and metering piped water supply systems and hand pumps.

Water For People-Uganda hopes to address the chronic issue of broken water pumps in rural Uganda by using profit to incentivize operators to repair hand pumps and keep water flowing. Most water operators do not have a way to track water usage from hand pumps, resulting in an inability to monetize usage and charge appropriate tariffs, limiting entrepreneurial activity around borehole management. Water For People-Uganda has identified and fitted a meter for hand pumps, now being piloted in Kyegerwa and Kamwenge districts, to allow operators to control their costs with enough precision to set competitive and flexible pricing.

Water For People-Uganda is promoting a market-based approach to improving sanitation services by working with sanitation businesses to develop new technologies and sanitation service delivery approaches. New technologies being developed include the Durasan, a modular toilet that is more affordable and can be quickly constructed; and the Rammer, a faster pumping device that makes sludge removal easier. Water For People-Uganda is also hiring marketers to promote sanitation products and services being provided by local entrepreneurs such as toilet construction and emptying services. We're also helping to facilitate loans for toilet construction through local Savings and Credit Co-operation (SACCO).