Contributed by Irene Alinga, Fred Nuwagaba (GIZ Sanitation for Millions), Trinah Kyomugisha Elizabeth Babita, Martin Mukasa, and Felix Twinomucunguzi (Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda)Download story
High urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has led to the proliferation of small towns, with significant challenges in achieving safely managed sanitation. The predominant toilet system is the pit latrines, which are abandoned when full and the burden of the recurring cost of re-building toilets must be catered for by the owners of the facility. There are no standards for toilet design, the supply chain for sanitation products is fragmented, and thus making the cost of toilet construction high. Additionally, there are limited options for safe emptying and disposal. This lack of access to safely managed sanitation exposes a significant population to sanitation-related diseases, which further limits the socio-economic development of the small towns. An integrated and inclusive approach in planning interventions to address sanitation related challenges in small towns is generally lacking.
This case study highlights the successes, challenges and lessons learned in piloting Town Sanitation Planning (TSP) approach, towards enhancing sustainable sanitation solutions along the service chain in small towns in Northern Uganda. The approach was implemented by Uganda’s Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE) in partnership with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) under the Sanitation for Millions project, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The TSP approach includes mechanisms that facilitate mindset change to improve sanitation and hygiene behaviors and practices, inclusive sanitation and hygiene facilities that take care of the needs of girls and people with physical disabilities, putting in place legal and institutional frameworks, sanitation financing mechanisms for households and institutional private sector capacity strengthening on operation and maintenance of sanitary facilities. The case study is relevant to policymakers and development partners trying to look for ways of solving sanitation issues in small towns in developing countries.
Date of publication: March 2023
Achieving inclusive safely managed sanitation in urban centres remains a daunting challenge in low-income countries of the world. High urbanization levels in SSA have resulted in many small towns, which depict urban characteristics, but are not gazetted cities. Such urban centres are usually faced with inadequate financing and planning capacities to implement sustainable inclusive sanitation approaches. Access to safely managed sanitation services in SSA is still low at 46%, compared to a global average of 88%. In Uganda, over half of the urban population (with the total urban population of approximately 20 million) reside in small towns, with low access to safely managed sanitation, estimated at less than 40%. The small towns mainly rely on on-site sanitation (OSS) facilities, especially pit latrines. However, when the pit latrines are full, there is a significant gap in safe emptying and ultimate safe disposal of the faecal matter, leading to environmental contamination. This unsafe disposal results into proliferation of sanitation-related diseases leading to loss of life, loss of productive time, all which lead to reduced socio-economic development.
Despite the over-reliance on on-site sanitation in the small towns in Uganda, there was lack of standards in existence to guide the construction of sanitary facilities, limited compliance to the existing laws (Public Health Act, Physical Planning Act, Building regulation etc.), limited awareness on safely managed sanitation and poor hygiene and sanitation practices. These, and many other sanitation-related issues, affect social and environmental safety and sustainability throughout the country. Safely managed sanitation does not necessarily consider only provision of sanitary facilities but also includes the operations of sanitation as a system, i.e., from containment, emptying, transportation, treatment, to disposal and/or reuse of end-products. However, there are significant socio-institutional challenges, including inadequate financing of sanitation services in the small to medium sized towns, limited institutional capacity, especially of the urban councils, to identify their sanitation gaps and develop action points to bridge the identified gaps in an integrated and participatory manner. As such, there are no coherent plans or sufficient strategies on how to overcome the challenge of attaining sustainable development goal 6.2 in the small towns in Uganda.
The MWE in partnership with GIZ has been supporting the use of TSP approach in the past 10 years. The TSP approach seeks to coordinate, integrate, and improve various sanitation-related measures at the local level, including aspects of solid waste management. It takes into consideration coordination of town planning, sanitation marketing and behaviour change communication, involvement of the local private sector, fully-fledged stakeholder participation and law enforcement. The TSP process is undertaken in each of the towns and starts with the formation of a Sanitation Taskforce (STF), a multi-disciplinary team of technical staff within the urban councils. Technical capacity development of the STF members follows, and it is ensured that the baseline sanitation situation is assessed properly. The baseline report is validated through a stakeholder forum. Based on the findings, the STF then develops the TSP in a cooperative manner and ensures its approval by the town council and its integration into the 5-year Town Development Plan. During preparation for implementation of the TSP, a monitoring framework is elaborated, including timelines and targets to be monitored. The TSP usually is evaluated on an annual basis and adaptations can be agreed on and integrated in the amended 5-year Town Development Plan.
The approach was piloted in six small towns of Apac, Aduku and Ibuje in Apac Cluster, and Loro, Oyam and Kamdini in Oyam Cluster in Northern Uganda. To date, scaling has been achieved in 29 other urban centres across the country. So far, the towns are implementing and reviewing the plans annually and several achievements have been registered, including but not limited to the following:
Unresolved challenges in the TSP process include:
About the Author(s)
Felix Twinomucunguzi holds a PhD (Civil and Environmental Engineering), MSc Resources Engineering, MMS Project Planning and Management and BSc Civil Engineering. He serves as an Assistant Commissioner in charge of urban sanitation in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Uganda.
Irene F. Alinga has over 8 years of experience in institutional WASH and faecal sludge management, with an interest in stakeholder management to enhance meaningful participation. She is the Sanitation and Hygiene Technical Advisor at the GIZ Sanitation for Millions Programme, overseeing the support to increase access to adequate and improved sanitation in small towns, in Northern Uganda.
Fred Nuwagaba is a civil engineering professional with over 20 years of practice. He possesses extensive experience in planning, development, and strategic coordination of implementation of social services, physical infrastructure projects, including urban water and sanitation provision. Currently he is the Country Manager for the global GIZ Sanitation for Millions programme in Uganda, managing the promotion of access to improved, safe sanitation and hygiene in small towns and cities in Uganda.
Trinah Kyomugisha is a Senior Environmental Health Officer under the Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Services Division, Ministry of Water and Environment. She is responsible for the implementation of urban sanitation and sewerage services under the Ministry. She holds an MSc in Water and Sanitation Engineering (KYU), Master of Public Health (MUK), Postgraduate Diploma in Project Planning and Management (UMI) and a bachelor’s degree in environmental health science (MUK).
Elizabeth Babita is the Senior Environment and Sanitation Officer under Water and Sanitation Development Facility North (WSDF-N), Ministry of Water and Environment. She has 15 years of experience in WASH, with special interest and focus on faecal sludge management and institutional sanitation in small towns. Elizabeth Holds a Master of Integrated Water Resources Management (University of Dare Salaam) and Bachelor of Environmental Health Science (MUK).
Martin Mukasa is the Senior Environmental Health Officer at the Ministry of Water and Environment, under the Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Division. He supports system strengthening and sanitation governance and has keen interest in health promotion, specifically on improving sanitation service delivery for the urban poor. Martin holds a Master and Bachelor of Public Health (Clerk International University).
About the institution / organisation
Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit – GIZ Sanitation for Millions
Sanitation for Millions Sanitation for Millions is a GIZ programme commissioned in 2016 by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as a multi-donor programme to contribute to safe and adequate access to sanitation. It considers the entire sanitation chain and applies sustainability criteria to ensure long-lasting results in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDGs 6, 4 and 3. The programme operates worldwide, focusing notably on the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as children, women and girls, indigenous communities, refugees and internally displaced people, as well as persons with disabilities. sanitationformillions.org; www.giz.de
Ministry of Water and Environment
The Ministry of Water and Environment is the lead government agency with the overall responsibility of the development, managing, and regulating water and environment resources in Uganda. https://www.mwe.go.ug/