This paper presents a strategy for achievement of Sustainable Development Goals 6.1 and 6.2 (universal access to clean water and to adequate sanitation and hygiene) in the context of rural Uganda. With participation of the Ministry of Water and Environment, a group of local government representatives have consulted in a series of workshops and meetings over the past five years. This ‘Learning Alliance’ has been hosted by a Ugandan social enterprise, Whave Solutions. The alliance undertook a systems analysis that identified key barriers to effective WASH delivery, such as financial disincentive for preventive maintenance. A regulatory structure and service delivery public–private partnership (PPP) approach was developed and implemented through practical maintenance contracts in more than 200 communities. The PPP key elements were performance payment for preventive maintenance, reliability assurance contracts between a service utility and rural communities, proposed new by-laws, standard constitutions, banking and legal status for the management committees of communities, and institutionalized monitoring. The paper describes how staged implementation of these elements has potential to transform the prospects for financial viability of reliable and universal water access in line with SDG 6.1, and how this process improves investment in piped supply as a key method of improving sanitation access and hygiene, in line with SDG 6.2.
This paper discusses a financial and institutional solution to the ongoing crisis of poor functionality of rural water sources in less-developed countries in Africa and elsewhere. It describes the outcomes of a learning journey undertaken since 2011 by Whave Solutions, a Ugandan rural water maintenance provider and advocacy body operating in several hundred rural communities working in close partnership with communities, local governments, and the Ministry of Water and Environment. The paper describes the root causes of failed rural water delivery, and describes how these have been addressed through collective action on the ground. The aim is to fulfil Uganda’s national development goals and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.1, building a comprehensive system for rural water functionality. This paper presents evidence of the cost of full functionality assurance, and discusses which tariff modalities and institutional structures are best suited for stable and sustained reliable water supply in future years nationwide. Weak regulation and weak governance are found to be among the barriers preventing these modalities and structures from being established. However, the dominant constraint to progress is found to be the failure of the aid sector to recognize its contribution to weak governance and its failure to take coordinated action to correct this. The paper concludes with specific recommendations for investors in water infrastructure, donors, and aid practitioners.