A city taking action

The Ugandan city will take action against flooding and water insecurity

Kampala is Uganda’s largest city and is located at the periphery of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest fresh water lake. Kampala is rapidly growing, with economic opportunities driving the rural-urban migration, and consequently increasing the rate of informal settlements. With the current and projected increase in precipitation intensity under all climate change scenarios, flooding is ultimately one of the major risks to infrastructure, human settlements, and the industrial, health, and business sectors in Kampala City. Following decades of inefficient city planning and management, the Government of Uganda decided to take action to transform Kampala into a vibrant, attractive and sustainable city.

The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is focusing their efforts on becoming a water sensitive city in regards to flood vulnerabilities and water security, using the Kampala Physical Development Plan. KCCA has also established partnerships with National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC), government ministries, development agencies, NGOs, the private sector and local communities to implement various projects that address sustainable urban water systems. Improvements will include the expansion of stormwater drains in flood-prone areas, as well as updating the Kampala Drainage Master Plan of 2003 to help plan a city-wide strategy to reduce flood impacts.


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Main Challenges

  • High urbanization rates translating into informal settlements. Urban development encroaching on wetlands and inadequate sanitation services leading to flood risks and pollution.

Main Solutions

  • Integrated and inclusive planning with an overarching vision of developing a green and resilient urban environment with planned public infrastructure and efficiency of service delivery. Flood protection, water security, improved waste management and sanitation, restoration of sensitive wetland ecosystems and green spaces

A Growing City with Limited Resources

The urbanization rate in Kamapala is far outpacing service delivery in the city, with a lag in the development of infrastructure, sanitation services and freshwater supply, in addition to preparing for flood risks and other impacts from a changing climate. Industries and commercial enterprises are also growing, continuing to threaten water supply, sewerage, waste management and sanitation systems.

Currently, Kampala’s city sewerage network covers less than 10% of the city, with the remaining areas relying on onsite sanitation, such as pit latrines or septic tanks. Fecal sludge management (FSM) remains a major problem, especially in the informal settlements, threatening environmental and water quality. Moreover, the impacts of climate change are city-wide, as Kampala is characterized by hills and valleys making it vulnerable to frequent flooding during heavy rains. Increased expansion of paved areas and the degradation of wetlands and green spaces have also escalated the problem.

Towards a Vibrant, Attractive and Sustainable City

Following decades of inefficient city planning and management, the Government of Uganda decided to take action focusing on transforming Kampala into a vibrant, attractive and sustainable city. Consequently, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) was established in 2011 to set the pace for this vision. The KCCA, working with other urban water stakeholders, are gearing up to achieve the SDG 6 on safe access to water and sanitation for all.

A project funded by the World Bank aims to enhance infrastructure and the institutional capacity of the KCCA to improve urban mobility and drainage management in Kampala. Improvements will include expansion of stormwater drains in flood-prone areas, as well as updating the Kampala Drainage Master Plan of 2003 to help plan a city-wide strategy to reduce flood impacts.

Moreover, city greening projects are taking place to enhance beautification and to provide recreation opportunities as well as reducing surface runoff. This is mainly implemented by KCCA in partnership with the private sector.

Many other projects are also in place to improve FSM through circular economy approaches and involve local stakeholders in the process. WaterAid Uganda aims to achieve just this, with construction of new sanitation facilities in schools and offer workshops to communities on waste management activities.

Case Study: The Kampala Water-Lake Victoria Water and Sanitation Project

This project aims to rehabilitate the distribution network and extend water treatment capacity, while increasing coverage, reliability and access to water supply and sewerage services for the population, with the main focus on the urban poor living in informal settlements. NWSC is the implementing agency working in close collaboration with KCCA. Core priorities addressing water and sanitation challenges in informal settlements include; i) a new fecal sludge treatment plant; ii) fecal sludge dumping points; iii) public and institutional toilets in informal settlements; and iv) pre-paid meters for urban poor to access clean and safe water supply at utility tariffs.

4 Levels of Action - Kampala’s Progress Towards the Principles

Regenerative Water Services
Water Sensitive Urban Design
Basin Connected Cities
Water-Wise Communities

Regenerative Water Services

• Restoration of degraded wetland ecosystems by KCCA in partnership with Ministry of Water and Environment and development partners.
• City greening projects through landscaping and recreation of green spaces to enhance City beautification provide recreation opportunities as well as reducing surface runoff. This is mainly implemented by KCCA in partnership with the private sector.
• Kampala Green Industry Project
• Kampala City Solar street lighting – hydro-electricity household level awareness
• Upgrades to Bugolobi WWTP- biogas production component
• Recycle Reuse & Recovery Project- energy and nutrient recovery from waste (e.g. Briquettes from organic waste, bio toilets in schools) Potential waste to energy municipal treatment plant with support from IFC and private partnerships.
• Biogas sanitation systems integrated with water harvesting to close the water and nutrient cycle in public primary schools.
• Investment in drainage infrastructure linked to wetland ecosystems as natural buffers.
• Investment in wastewater treatment plants integrated with wetlands for tertiary treatment.

Water Sensitive Urban Design

• Physical Development Plan – green spaces promoting water harvesting and planned flood retention basins
• Promoting water harvesting and planned flood retention basins
• Kampala Drainage Master Plan and Physical Development Plan
• Restoration of wetlands in collaboration with NEMA and Ministry of Water and Environment.
• Reclaim and develop green parks in degraded wetland areas (Planned project)- seeking funding.
• Kampala Pollution Task Force since 2012
• Green Industry Campaign launched in 2016

Basin Connected Cities

• Promoting water harvesting in schools and increasing storage capacity by NWSC
• WASH initiatives- KWSF and Pollution Task Force

Water-Wise Communities

• Community clean-ups, school water, environment and sanitation clubs
• Sanitation improvement programs in schools & Pro-Poor interventions
• KCCA council led by the Lord Mayor and NWSC
• Policy Committee on Water and Environment (comprising of Cabinet Ministers and chaired by the Prime Minister)
• Ministry of Water and Environment Board
• National Water and Sewerage Corporation Board
• National Environment Management Authority Board and Management Executive Committee
• KCCA Public Health and Environment Committee
• Division leaders and council representatives
• Local leaders from ward to zone level

5 Building Blocks - Kampala’s Progress Towards the Principles


Vibrant, attractive and sustainable City. This is an overarching vision shared across stakeholders including the water and sanitation sector.


Water Act 1997 – The Ministry of Water and Environment is mandated to provide for the use, protection and management of water resources and supply.
The National Water Policy 1999.
Water (Waste Discharge) Regulations in 1998.
Water sector guidelines developed in 2009.

Knowledge & Capacity

WASH initiatives and other sanitation projects in schools (WaterAid, GIZ-RUWASS, Cheshire Project, Rotary Club Kiwatule, MTN Uganda).
Innovative Water Solutions - Nordic Climate Change Aqua Unique Norge.

Planning Tools

The Kampala Physical development plan.
A Drainage master plan.
The Kampala water and sanitation master plan.
Solid waste management system.

Implementation Tools

The Kampala Capital City Act.
The Kampala Physical Development Plan.
The Kampala Water and Sanitation Master Plan.
The Kampala Drainage Master Plan.
The Water Act.
The National Environment Management Act.

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