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How to “walk the talk”: The perspectives of sector staff on implementation of the rural water supply programme in Uganda

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Many countries in sub‐Saharan Africa have adopted similar approaches to tackle the challenges of rural water supply, including community‐based management, community participation and the demand‐responsive approach. These are often combined with nationwide programmes of capacity‐building and decentralization. This paper first shows how Uganda has adopted these approaches in its rural water supply programme. Based on Government documents, we construct an organizational framework that illustrates the overall programme and outlines the roles and responsibilities which actors are expected to fulfil. Second, based on interviews with sector staff and a review of Government documents, the paper examines challenges to successfully “walk the talk”; that is, it provides insight into challenges affecting programme implementation. Among numerous difficulties, two key issues are highlighted: local political interference and the weak capacity of local governments. Concerning local political interference, local planning processes need to be reformed so that local politicians commit more strongly to improving water supply. Regarding local government capacity, the Government department responsible for the programme has established eight regional units that provide support to local governments. This promising strategy, combined with more appropriate engagement and the commitment of local politicians, should help to improve the implementation of the rural water supply programme in Uganda.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Royal Institution of Technology, Department of Land and Water Resources Engineering, Stockholm, Sweden 2: Stockholm University, Department of Human Geography and the Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2011


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