Uganda Triple-S initiative
Triple-S, short for Sustainable Services at Scale, is an initiative to address the growing problem of sustainability of rural water supplies. In Uganda, a consortium of partners is spearheading Triple-S. They include:
- Ministry of Water and Environment
- Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS)
- Uganda Water and Sanitation NGO Network (UWASNET)
- SNV Netherlands Development Organisation Uganda
- IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre
Uganda’s water sector faces growing challenges in terms of sustainability of water supplies. According to the 2010 sector performance report, functionality dropped from 83% in 2008/09 to 81% in 2009/10, despite the founding of a national level thematic working group on functionality. This means that around 1 out of 5 water supply systems in the country is not functioning at any given time.
Coverage rates have also stagnated, largely held back by the ability to supply rural citizens with water services – a challenge for all countries. In Uganda, something like 4 out of 10 rural people still lack access a safe source of nearby water (for city dwellers it is only 1 out 10).
The rural water sector has gone as far as it can with standard strategies and solutions; to achieve sustainable water services for all its citizens, Uganda needs new thinking and innovative approaches.
What is Triple-S doing?
The Triple-S initiative is about taking the best international thinking available, combining it with extensive Ugandan knowledge and expertise, and adapting it to the situation on the ground.
There is a lot that Ugandan water sector is doing well, and Triple-S is taking these positive examples to other countries. The challenge for Uganda is to identify and address the gaps and the obstacles that are holding the country back from achieving and sustaining 100% coverage. Triple-S is facilitating this process with staff from the Ministry of Water and Environment (MWE), district water personnel, private operators, NGOs, users, local politicians and opinion leaders.
This means looking at everything from financing mechanisms to improved back-up support and spare parts availability. It also means looking at where and how to invest sector resources to achieve sustainable benefits, a particularly important objective in light of declining sector investment.
- Action learning: establishing learning platforms to assess problems, drive field level research and disseminate findings
- Testing models in pilot districts: developing and managing improved models for implementation, monitoring and follow-up of rural water services based on existing sector policies and guidelines
- Targeted research: in-depth research into factors that can hinder or advance the provision of sustainable services, including ownership, attitudes, and behaviors, costs and cost-benefit analysis, and financing mechanisms
- Training: providing staff from government and other agencies particularly at the district level with the skills and capacities to improve service delivery including monitoring systems and procedures
- Knowledge management: learning outputs from research made accessible and available in the right formats and languages for different target audiences in Uganda and beyond.